Alicia Keys (born Alicia Augello-Cook on January 25, 1981 in Manhattan, New York City, USA) is a popular R&B vocalist and pianist.
She was born to a White mother, Terri Augello, and a Black father, Craig Cook and was raised in the Hell's Kitchen section of New York City.
She began playing piano when she was seven. She learned classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin, who was her favorite composer. She wrote her first song 'Butterflyz' at the age of fourteen; the song can be found on her debut album. Keys's mother was the one who most supported her during the time when Keys was developing her talents. She loved her cousin Ashley Dean for looking up to her and believing in how she could do it.
Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, was commercially successful. With it she won five Grammy Awards in 2002 (see 2002 in music). Because she wrote her own songs and played several instruments very well, consumers saw Keys as an original voice at a time when the musical marketplace was flooded with pop bands that were little more than an attractive front for the creative energies of others. As such, she established a large fanbase of devoted fans, making her one of the most popular artists of the early years of the twenty-first century. Critical reviews were mostly positive. Keys' work had a sound similar to 1970s soul singers like Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, with hip hop influences like those apparent in neo soul artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and D'Angelo. Some critics went on to accuse her of outright plagiarism, especially in the case of her single 'Fallin'', which sounds very similar to James Brown's 'It's A Man's World', right down to the string arrangement.
Keys graduated as valedictorian from the Professional Performing Arts School, a public high school in Manhattan. She briefly attended Columbia University on a scholarship before devoting herself to a full-time musical career. Following her mentor Clive Davis to his newly-formed J Records label, she released her debut album Songs in A Minor, the title being a reference to both her classical aspirations and to the fact that she wrote most of the songs while still being very young.
In late 2003, Keys released her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, which shot straight up to the top of the Billboard R&B charts. At the 47th Annual Grammy Awards ceremonies held on February 13, 2005, she gave a powerful solo performance of the single 'If I Ain't Got You', and then joined Jamie Foxx and Quincy Jones in a stirring rendition of the Hoagy Carmichael song made famous by the late Ray Charles, 'Georgia On My Mind'. She eventually went home with 4 Grammys (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 Duo or Group (My Boo with Usher Raymonds).
- 2001 'Fallin'' #1 US, #3 UK
- 2002 'Brotha Part II' (Angie Stone feat. Alicia Keys and Eve) #37 UK
- 2002 'A Woman's Worth' #7 US, #18 UK
- 2002 'How Come You Don't Call Me' #26 UK
- 2002 'Gangsta Lovin'' (Eve feat. Alicia Keys) #2 US, #6 UK
- 2002 'Girlfriend' #24 UK
- 2003 'You Don't Know My Name' #3 US, #19 UK
- 2004 'If I Ain't Got You' #1 US, #18 UK
- 2004 'Diary' (feat. Tony! Toni! Tone!) #2 US
- 2004 'My Boo' (with Usher) #1 US, #5 UK
- 2004 'Karma' #44 US
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