Alicia Keys and JAY-Z Bring Tony Awards Audience to Their Feet with Rousing 'Empire State of Mind' Performance

The song closes out Keys' Broadway musical 'Hell's Kitchen,' which is up for 13 Tonys this year

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty </p> Jay-Z and Alicia Keys on June 16, 2024

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys on June 16, 2024

Let's hear it for New York!

Alicia Keys and JAY-Z reunited to perform their 2009 Grammy-winning hit "Empire State of Mind" at the 2024 Tony Awards on Sunday, June 16, paying homage to the track that also serves as the finale in the Tony-nominated jukebox musical Hell's Kitchen, which is based on Keys' life.

Keys, 43, took the stage at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater in New York City to perform the song in the last portion of a medley of songs from the Hell's Kitchen, which received 13 total nominations at the 77th Tony Awards ceremony. Keys appeared on stage at her piano to sing the song with Tony nominee Maleah Joi Moon before she introduced the song and brought audiences into the venue's lobby, where JAY-Z, 54, rapped his iconic verses from his 2009 hit single.

"Let me see ya! We in New York City tonight! We at the Tony Awards tonight! Had to do something crazy, it’s my hometown!" Keys said before the rapper appeared on a video screen on the awards show's stage.

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<p>Theo Wargo/Getty</p> Alicia Keys on June 16, 2024

Theo Wargo/Getty

Alicia Keys on June 16, 2024

Related: 2024 Tony Awards: Daniel Radcliffe's Emotional Win, JAY-Z's Surprise Performance and a Full Recap of Broadway's Big Night

Hell's Kitchen stars Tony nominees Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Kecia Lewis and Maleah Joi Moon, the latter — a Broadway newcomer — who plays Ali, the role modeled after Keys.

They share the stage with Chris Lee, Chad Carstarphen, Vanessa Ferguson, Jakeim Hart, Jackie Leon, Nyseli Vega, Lamont Walker II and Rema Webb. The ensemble includes Reid Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Timothy L. Edwards, David Guzman, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker and Niki Saludez.

Rounding out the company are standby Donna Vivino and understudies Desmond Sean Ellington, Badia Farha, Gianna Harris, Jade Milan, Susan Oliveras and Oscar Whitney Jr., plus swings Takia Hopson, Onyxx Noel, Aaron Nicholas Patterson and William Roberson. Directed by Michael Greif with choreography by Camille A. Brown, the show features a book by Kristoffer Diaz. All three are Tony nominated.

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<p>Marc J. Franklin</p> <em>Hell's Kitchen</em> on Broadway

Marc J. Franklin

Hell's Kitchen on Broadway

Related: Alicia Keys, Jim Parsons and More 2024 Tony Awards Hopefuls React to Their Nominations: 'This Is Wild'

Hell's Kitchen is inspired by Keys' childhood tales of growing up in New York City, featuring her catalogue of hits — including "No One," "Fallin'," "If I Ain't Got You" and "Empire State of Mind" — making up the show's score, alongside three new tunes she composed including the new single "Kaleidoscope." The show is nominated for a whopping 13 Tonys this year, including best musical.

But the success, though gratifying, has been far from the most rewarding thing about the process, Keys told PEOPLE at the Tony Awards Meet the Nominees press junket last month. Instead, the Grammy-winning superstar said it's been the diversity of people coming to see the show.

"One of the goals of Hell's Kitchen was is to really open the door to those who have never stepped foot in a Broadway theater ever before," she explained. "So I'm excited that when I look around — because I am in that theater often — I see so many different people in so many different walks of life. I love that so much and that's really important."

"This story is meant to welcome you," Keys added. "It's incredible to see a New York story in New York City, but no matter where you're from, you'll find yourself there. And there's something really special about that."

The 77th Tony Awards are airing live on CBS and Paramount+.

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