When Bridgerton first hit Netflix back in 2020, it captivated audiences not only with its stunning Regency-era visuals and romantic storylines, but also with its gorgeous orchestral covers of pop songs that seamlessly connected the characters to its modern viewers.
To celebrate Queen Charlotte and the power of women worldwide, Keys brought together more than 70 female musicians from all over the world — from South Africa, Barbados and Germany to Sweden and Egypt — to create a first-of-its-kind global orchestra made up entirely of women of color. Together, the Queen Charlotte’s Global Orchestra delivered a captivating rendition of “If I Ain’t Got You” to celebrate the song’s 20th anniversary.
“The entire idea was quite ambitious,” Keys tells Billboard with a laugh, adding that Netflix was excited to take on the challenge and shift the perspective of what an orchestra looks like. “I feel like it’s going to open the minds of many people to realize that women of color belong everywhere and we’ve always been everywhere. It’s magical.”
The final result, shared exclusively with Billboard on Monday (May 8) is equally magical. The instrumentalists are donned in eloquent 1700s-inspired gowns as they deliver sweeping strings, ethereal percussion and grounding horns — all working together to uplift Keys’ honeyed vocals and piano melody. “I know they’re gonna be very emotional when they see it because the women we who were there were extremely emotional,” Keys recalled. “Our conductor [Ofentse Pitse] said, ‘It feels like when we have an orchestra of all women of color from all over the world, that we’re finally doing something right.’ This is what our ancestors never experienced.”
Pitse, a Tshwane, South Africa, native who is the youngest and first Black African woman to conduct and own an orchestra, shares with Billboard that the experience felt “historic” from the very first moment. “I think I knew the importance of it when I was on the airplane, but when I actually got there, it just really changed my perspective of the reason why we are all there. We should not just be the first and only ones to do something like this.”