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Alicia keys

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Alicia KeysBirth name Alicia J. Augello-Cook
Also known as Lellow
Born January 25, 1980 (age 27)
Origin Flag of United States Manhattan, New York, United States
Genre(s) R&B, soul, neo soul
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, musician, composer, pianist, record producer, philanthropist, actress, author
Instrument(s) Singing, piano/keyboards
Years active 2001–present
Label(s) Columbia (1997–1999)
J (2000–present)
Website AliciaKeys.net

Alicia Keys (born Alicia Augello-Cook on January 25, 1981) is an American R&B and soul singer, songwriter, musician, composer, pianist, record producer, philanthropist, and occasional actress and author. Keys is a renowned artist who has sold twenty-eight million albums and singles worldwide and won numerous awards, including nine Grammy Awards, eleven Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards.

Early life

Keys was born to an Irish-Italian mother, Terri Augello, and a Jamaican father, Craig Cook,[1] in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, New York. Terri was a paralegal and actress,[2] but Keys was raised in a poor home in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City; the two shared a one-room apartment with Alicia sleeping on the couch.[2] In 1985, Keys and a group of other girls won the parts of Rudy Huxtable's sleepover guests in an episode of The Cosby Show (the episode became the only time Keys was credited under her real name). She began playing piano when she was seven, learning classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and her favorite, Chopin. She wrote her first song "Butterflyz" at the age of fourteen; the song was later recorded for her debut album. Keys' mother and father separated during her early childhood, thus she was raised by her mother during her formative years; her mother was the one who most supported her during the time she was developing her musical talents. The press reported in 2005 that Keys was attempting to reconcile with her father.[3] However, Keys denied this and said her words were misinterpreted.[4]

Keys graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School, a high school in Manhattan, at the age of sixteen. Although accepted to Columbia University at age sixteen with a scholarship, she decided instead to pursue her musical career. Keys signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def label, then distributed by Columbia Records. She wrote and recorded a song entitled "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)", which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1997 blockbuster, Men in Black. The song was Keys' first professional recording; it was never released as a single and her record contract with Columbia Records was ended quickly. Keys later met Clive Davis, who signed her to Arista Records, which has since disbanded. Following her mentor Clive Davis to his newly formed J Records label, she recorded the songs "Rock wit U" and "Rear View Mirror", featured on the soundtracks to the films Shaft (2000) and Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) respectively. Keys then released her debut album Songs in A Minor in 2001, the title being a reference to both her classical aspirations and to the fact that she wrote most of the songs at a very young age.

Music career

Songs in A Minor (2001)

Selling over 235,000 copies in its first week (more than 50,000 of those in its first day), Songs in A Minor, released on June 5, 2001, went on to sell more than twelve million units worldwide,[5] and established Keys' popularity both outside and inside the U.S., where she became the best-selling new artist of 2001 (as well as the best-selling R&B artist). The album's first single, "Fallin'", gained radio airplay on many different radio formats and spent six weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Keys performed Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free" at the America: A Tribute to Heroes televised benefit concert following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Another single from Songs in A Minor, "A Woman's Worth", made the top ten in the U.S. as well. Keys and the album won five Grammy Awards in 2002, including "Best New Artist" and "Song of the Year" for "Fallin'". Later, on October 22, 2002, Keys would release Remixed & Unplugged in A Minor, a re-issue of Songs in A Minor, which includes eight remixes and seven unplugged versions of some of the songs off her debut album.

Critical reviews of the album were mostly positive. Keys' work had a sound similar to 1970s soul singers such as Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder along with hip-hop influences like those apparent in neo soul artists such as Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and D'Angelo.

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003)

Keys followed up her debut with The Diary of Alicia Keys, released on December 2, 2003. The album was hailed by critics and debuted at number one in the U.S., selling over 618,000 copies its first week of release, the sixth highest album sales by a female and second by R&B female. To date, it has sold nine million copies worldwide.[5] The singles "You Don't Know My Name" and "If I Ain't Got You" both reached the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and another single, "Diary", entered the top ten. The classical/hip-hop-flavored "Karma" was less successful, peaking at number twenty on the Billboard Hot 100 but more successful on Top 40 Mainstream peaking at number three. "If I Ain't Got You" became the first single by a female artist to remain on the sixty-three-year-old Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for more than one year, surpassing Mary J. Blige's "Your Child" (forty-nine weeks). Keys went on to become the best-selling female R&B artist of 2004.

At the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, Keys won "Best R&B Video" for "If I Ain't Got You" and also led Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder in their version of Wonder's "Higher Ground". Also the following year in 2005, she won "Best R&B Video" in her second year in a row for "Karma". At the 2005 Grammy Awards, she performed the album's second single, "If I Ain't Got You", and then joined Jamie Foxx and Quincy Jones in a rendition of "Georgia on My Mind", Hoagy Carmichael's song made famous by Ray Charles. That evening, she won four Grammy Awards: "Best R&B Album" for The Diary of Alicia Keys, "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" for "If I Ain't Got You", "Best R&B Song" for "You Don't Know My Name", and "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" for "My Boo" with Usher. She was also nominated for "Album of the Year" for The Diary of Alicia Keys, "Song of the Year" for "If I Ain't Got You", "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" for "Diary" (featuring Tony! Toni! Toné!), and "Best R&B Song" for "My Boo".

Unplugged (2005)

Keys performed and taped her installment of the MTV Unplugged series on July 14, 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[6] During this live session, Keys added brand-new arrangements to her original songs such as "A Woman's Worth" and the funk-driven "Heartburn", and performed a few choice covers. Part of Keys' audience also included her guest performers; she collaborated with rappers Common and Mos Def on "Love It or Leave It Alone", reggae artist Damian Marley on "Welcome to Jamrock", and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine on a cover of The Rolling Stones' 1971 "Wild Horses".

In addition to a cover of "Every Little Bit Hurts", previously performed by singers such as Aretha Franklin and Brenda Holloway, Keys also premiered two new original songs: "Stolen Moments", which she co-wrote with producer Lamont Green, and "Unbreakable", which peaked at number four and number thirty-four on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop and the Hot 100 respectively. It was more successful on the Billboard Adult R&B Airplay, where it peaked at number one for eleven weeks.[7][8] The session was released on CD and DVD on October 11, 2005. Known simply as Unplugged, the album peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with 196,000 units sold in its first week of release. So far the album has sold one million units in the United States.[9] The debut of Keys' Unplugged was the highest debut for an MTV Unplugged album since Nirvana's 1994 MTV Unplugged in New York and the first Unplugged by a female artist to debut at number one. It was nominated for four Grammy Awards: "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" for "Unbreakable", "Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance" for "If I Was Your Woman", "Best R&B Song" for "Unbreakable", and "Best R&B Album". The album won three NAACP Image Awards: "Outstanding Female Artist", "Outstanding Song" for "Unbreakable", and "Outstanding Music Video" for "Unbreakable".[10]

New album and recording studio

Keys has already begun working on her third studio album, which is to be released in June 2007.[11] Recently Alicia Keys has talked to MTV about her upcoming album: "It's coming together incredibly. I am in love with this album. It's very fresh and new". And about the album title Alicia said: "I always name my album at the end. For some reason I find that works better for me. After I have all of the work together and I feel the direction, then I know what's the best title". Rolling Stone magazine reported in December 2005 that Keys and her long-term songwriting partner Kerry "Krucial"Keys (Brothers) would start working seriously on Keys' third studio album in the later half of 2006. There are also rumors that she worked with Linda Perry.[12] Keys has explained that her new upcoming album has a more edgy feel than her first two albums[13] and she is keen to do strange and unexpected collaborations outside the R&B and hip-hop worlds.[9] Keys also plans to collobarate with John Mayer, John Legend, Timbaland, Drew Lane, Eddie Galan, and Stargate on her third studio album.[14]

Keys recently opened a new recording studio in Long Island, New York called The Oven Studios, which she co-owns with her co-production and co-songwriting partner Kerry "Krucial" Brothers.[15] The studio was designed by renowned studio architect John Storyk of WSDG, designer of Jimi Hendrix' Electric Lady Studios. Keys and Kerry Brothers are co-founders of KrucialKeys Enterprises, a production and songwriting team who assisted Keys in creating her award-winning albums as well as create music for other artists.

Film and television career

Keys has finished shooting a film alongside Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta, Common, Andy Garcia, Jeremy Piven, and Ryan Reynolds entitled Smokin' Aces,[16] released on January 26, 2007,[17][18] in which she plays an assassin named Georgia Sykes. Keys has received much praise from her co-stars in the film; Ryan Reynolds said Keys has "natural" acting ability as he was surprised she had not starred in films before.[19]

Furthermore, she has finished shooting her second film The Nanny Diaries alongside Scarlett Johansson, which is due for release on April 20, 2007. She is playing Johannson's best friend in the film. The Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York was used to film the college graduation scene for the film.[20]

Keys and her long-term manager Jeff Robinson have signed a first-look film production deal to develop live-action and animated projects with Disney, Variety reports. Their first film, a remake of the 1958 comedy Bell, Book and Candle, will star Keys as a witch who casts a love spell to lure a rival's fiance.[21] Keys and Robinson have also formed a television production company called Big Pita.[22] Their first project will be a CW Network TV series inspired by Keys' experiences as a biracial child growing up in New York, similar to the network's Everybody Hates Chris.[1] Keys has been tapped to executively produce an upcoming TV drama. The title and airing date are presently unconfirmed.[23] Keys and Robinson said they will develop live-action and animated projects at their company, Big Pita, Little Pita, with Keys participating as producer, thesp, banner spearheading soundtrack, and music supervision. She also played a voice in the "Mission to Mars" episode of The Backyardigans.

Keys will also play 1940s biracial piano child prodigy Philippa Schuyler in an upcoming film entitled Composition in Black and White.[24] It is based on the 1995 biographical book of the same name by Kathryn Talalay and follows the story of Philippa Schuyler. "The challenge, in order to actually be able to play classical piano as a woman of mixed race, was by far more than I could ever imagine", Keys said. "That's what intrigued me about that role". The biopic will tell the difficult tale of Schuyler's controversial career, love-hate relationship with her mother and the black community, her second career as a writer, and her eventual death in a helicopter accident. "Her story is very deep, even up to the point where the relationship between her and her mother gets very strained and she chooses to go to Europe and pass as a Spanish woman in order to be able to play, in order to be able to live a more normal life", Keys said, adding that she and Halle Berry hope to start shooting in early 2008. "As of right now, we're still in the first, second draft of the script", she said. "So a little bit of time – at least a year".


Besides being a musician, Keys is also an active philanthropist. She is a spokeswoman for Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organization that provides life-saving AIDS medicines directly to children and families with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Keys and U2 lead singer Bono recorded a cover version of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's "Don't Give Up", in recognition of World AIDS Day 2006. Keys and Bono's version of the song has been retitled as "Don't Give Up (Africa)",[25] to show the two musicians' support for helping to raise awareness of people living with HIV and AIDS and acknowledging the twenty-five million Africans (forty million people worldwide) living with the disease. Cingular Wireless announced the debut of an exclusive Music Tone ringtone available only through the Cingular Sounds music program. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the ringtone sales will go to Keep a Child Alive.

Keys has visited African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa[26][27] to promote care for children affected by AIDS. Keys, the global ambassador and co-founder of Keep a Child Alive, will jet in on a four-day working visit on April 9, to bolster the HIV/AIDS crusade and give a ray of hope to families and children devastated by the scourge. Keys will visit sites funded by the organization "and bring footage home to the American public to encourage them to do more to help", according to a KACA statement. Throughout her visit, a film crew will follow and document the progress at both of these facilities for American news outlets.

Keys is also a spokewoman for Frum tha Ground Up, a charity devoted to inspiring, encouraging, and motivating American youths to achieve success on all levels. Keys also participated in other humanitarian efforts in 2005 by performing at several exclusive concerts and television shows. On July 2, Keys performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the worldwide Live 8 concerts. The mission of the concerts was to raise awareness of the on-going poverty in Africa and to pressure the G8 leaders to take action by doubling aid, canceling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa. In August 2005, Keys performed on ReAct Now: Music & Relief, a benefit program shown on music video channels to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The following month, Keys performed at Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, another Hurricane Katrina benefit concert.



Songs in A Minor

* Released: June 5, 2001
* Chart positions: #1 U.S., #1 U.S. R&B, #6 UK, #3 AUS, #2 CAN, #2 GER
* U.S. certification: 6x Platinum
* U.S. sales: 6 million
* Worldwide sales: 12 million[5]

The Diary of Alicia Keys

* Released: December 2, 2003
* Chart positions: #1 U.S., #1 U.S. R&B, #13 UK, #22 AUS, #10 GER
* U.S. certification: 4x Platinum
* U.S. sales: 4.5 million
* Worldwide sales: 9 million[5]


* Released: October 11, 2005
* Chart positions: #1 U.S., #1 U.S. R&B, #52 UK, #33 AUS, #25 GER
* U.S. certification: Platinum
* U.S. sales: 1 million
* Worldwide sales: 1.5 million[5]


* Keys, Alicia (2001). Songs in A Minor. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0634037765.
* Keys, Alicia (2004). The Diary of Alicia Keys. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0634077643.
* Keys, Alicia (2004). Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics. G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0425205606.
* Keys, Alicia (2006). Unplugged. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 1423408225.
* Keys, Alicia (2006). How Can I Keep from Singing?: Transforming the Lives of African Children and Families Affected by AIDS. Umbrage. ISBN 1884167608.


* 2001: Tour in USA
* 2001/2002: European Tour
* 2004: Asian/Australian Tour
* 2004: The Verizon Ladies First Tour (with Beyoncé and Missy Elliott)
* 2004: European Tour
* 2005: The Diary Tour in USA

Awards and nominations

Main article: Alicia Keys' awards and nominations


* Alicia Keys is one of the very few living people ever mentioned in Bob Dylan's lyrics. In his 2006 song "Thunder on the Mountain", Dylan sings: "I was thinking 'bout Alicia Keys, I couldn't keep from crying/While she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was livin' down the line/I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be, I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee". When asked to explain his lines further, Dylan replied that he saw her at the Grammy Awards and said to himself, "There's nothing about that girl I don't like."[28] Alicia herself responded, "I'm crazy excited about it and I'm honored to be on his mind".[29]
* Alicia Keys is an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.




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