BEIJING – Alicia Keys (search) says touring outside the United States is a constant source of musical inspiration.
"Away from America, things are so historic," said the Grammy Award-winning singer, who was in Beijing for her first China concert on Saturday night with Cyndi Lauper (search), Boyz II Men and Nellie McKay.
"Touring gives me the opportunity to see the people, the faces, the eyes," Keys said at a news conference Thursday. "The song of it, the sound of it, is all very inspiring to me."
The concert, which also features vocalist Sylvia Tosun, is being held at the Great Wall (search), north of the Chinese capital.
"The main message is to promote peace," said Eugene Lou, one of the producers. He said some of the proceeds will go to a Chinese children's charity.
"The universal event that this is at this monumental place just is another reminder that the Chinese culture has been an influence on our society since we began," said Tosun.
The singer wore a bright pink qipao — a traditional tight-fitting, high-collared dress — that she said was a celebration of China. Keys wore a silk head scarf and a pink sweater off one shoulder.
Promoters describe the concert as the first by foreign musicians at the wall, though British disk jockey Paul Oakenfold performed there last year and later released an album of the show.
"There are good walls and there are bad walls," Lauper said. "I played at the Berlin Wall and I saw that wall come down and I was very joyful to be able to play there."
The Great Wall of China "symbolizes for me how people can come together," she said. "It's amazing that 2 million hands built it. I wonder if they knew they were going to build one of the seven wonders of the world."
Lauper, who had spiky blonde hair and wore platform heels, said that as a child she had tried to dig to China many times.
"But I never got there, and I'm so glad now that I have because it's exciting," she said. "It's better to come off the plane."