Alicia Keys

Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, actress, and activist. Keys released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records. Keys’ debut album,Songs in A Minor was released in 2001, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single “Fallin'”, and selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002.Her sophomore album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003, spawning successful singles “You Don’t Know My Name”, “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Diary”, and selling 8 million copies worldwide. The duet song “My Boo” with Usher scored her a second number-one single in 2004. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005.Later that year, she released her first live album,Unplugged, becoming the first woman to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one.

As I Am was released in 2007, producing the Hot 100 number-one single “No One”, selling 5 million copies worldwide and earning an additional three Grammy Awards. The Element of Freedom was released in 2009, becoming her first chart-topping album in the UK, and selling 4 million copies worldwide. Keys additionally collaborated with Jay Z on “Empire State of Mind” as her fourth number-one single, and won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2010. Girl on Fire was released in 2012 as her fifth Billboard 200 topping album, spawning the successful title track. Her second live album, VH1 Storytellerswas released in 2013. Here was released in 2016, becoming her seventhR&B/Hip-Hop chart topping album

Keys has won numerous awards such as 15 Grammy Awards and 17 NAACP Image Awards and has sold over 35 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. Keys made her film debut in Smokin’ Aces and has also appeared in The Nanny Diaries and The Secret Life of Bees. Considered a pop icon,Billboard magazine named her the top R&B artist of the 2000s decade and placed her number 10 on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years. VH1 included her on their 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list, while Time named her in their 100 list of most influential people in 2005 and 2017.

Personal life

Keys maintained a low-profile relationship with producer Kerry Brothers Jr. from 2006.

Keys then began dating rapper Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean) in 2008, who was still in the process of divorcing from his then-wife, singer Mashonda Tifrere. Keys and Dean announced their engagement on May 2010, while expecting their first child. They held a Zulu ceremony to bless the unborn child in the Illovo suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They were married in July 2010 on the French island of Corsica. Keys gave birth to a son, Egypt Daoud Dean, in October 2010. She gave birth to their second son, Genesis Ali Dean, in December 2014. Keys and Dean reside primarily in Englewood, New Jersey; until 2010 Keys lived in Syosset, New York.

Life and career

1981–1999: Early life and career beginnings

Alicia Augello Cook was born on January 25, 1981, in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, New York City.She is the only child of Teresa (Augello), a paralegal and part-time actress, and Craig Cook, a flight attendant.Keys’ father is African American and her mother is of Sicilian (Sciacca) and either Scottish or Irish descent.Keys has expressed that she was comfortable with her multiracial heritage because she felt she was able to “relate to different cultures”.Her parents separated when she was two and she was subsequently raised by her mother during her formative years in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.Keys has 2 younger half brothers: Clay Cook (Branch) and Cole Cook. In 1985, Keys made an appearance on The Cosby Show at the age of four, where she and a group of girls played the parts of Rudy Huxtable’s sleepover guests in the episode “Slumber Party”.Throughout her childhood, Keys was sent to music and dance classes by her mother.She studied classical piano from age seven, playing composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin,and enrolled in the Professional Performing Arts School at the age of 12, where she majored in choir and began writing songs at the age of 14.She graduated in four years as valedictorian at the age of 16.

In 1994, Keys met long-term manager Jeff Robinson after she enrolled in his brother’s after-school program.The following year Robinson introduced Keys to her future A&R at Arista Records, Peter Edge, who later described his first impressions to HitQuarters: “I had never met a young R&B artist with that level of musicianship. So many people were just singing on top of loops and tracks, but she had the ability, not only to be part of hip-hop, but also to go way beyond that.”Edge helped Robinson create a showcase for Keys and also got involved in developing her demo material. He was keen to sign Keys himself but was unable to do so at that time due to being on the verge of leaving his present record company. Keys signed to Columbia Records soon after.At the same time as signing a recording contract with Columbia Records, Keys was accepted at Columbia University. At first, Keys attempted to manage both, but after a month, she dropped out of college to pursue her musical career full-time.

Keys signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri and So So Def Recordings, where she appeared on the label’s Christmas album performing “The Little Drummer Girl”. She also co-wrote and recorded a song titled “Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)”, which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black.The song was Keys’ first professional recording; however, it was never released as a single and her record contract with Columbia ended after a dispute with the label. Keys was unhappy with the label because her career had stalled during her two years under contract at Columbia due to executive indecision over her direction and major changes within the company.Keys called Clive Davis, who sensed a “special, unique” artist from her performance and signed her to Arista Records, which later disbanded. Keys almost chose Wilde as her stage name until her manager suggested the name Keys after a dream he had. Keys felt that name represented her both as a performer and person./Gjithqka Nga Pak

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