Alicia Keys

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 EARLY LIFE

Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook on   January 25, 1981 in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan New York. She is the daughter of Teresa (Augello), a paralegal and part-time actress, and Craig Cook, a flight attendant.

Her parents separated when she was two and she was subsequently raised by her mother.

EDUCATION BACKGROUND

When she was four, Keys landed a one-off role as part of a slumber party on The Cosby Show this experience would later manifest into an acting career later in her life. She studied classical piano from age seven, playing composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin,and enrolled in the Professional Performing Arts School Manhattan New York 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.

She was accepted to Columbia University on a full scholarship, she only attended for four weeks before leaving to dedicate her fully to music.

CAREER LIFE

1997 – 2002

Initially she struck a deal with So So Def Records and in 1997 in which she wrote and recorded a song [Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)]  that appeared on the soundtrack of Men in Black. The deal never resulted in an album, but, by then, Keys attracted the attention of powerful music-industry mogul Clive Davis who had engineered the careers of such soul luminaries as Aretha Franklin , who signed her to his Arista Records in 1999  (which later merged with the newer J Records). She recorded two more songs for soundtracks, and then, in June 2001, released Songs in A Minor which was her first album. The album was well received and quickly rose to Number One and received a lot of praise from critics hailing her as a neo-soul successor to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.

2003 – 2008

In 2003 she released her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, which debuted at Number One and produced another batch of hits including “You Don’t Know My Name”, “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Diary”.

That year, she performed along with Beyoncé and Missy Elliott on the Verizon Ladies First Tour, and also headlined tours in Asia and Australia.

The album and her duet with Usher “My Boo”  earned her eight Grammy nominations, four of which she won: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “If I Ain’t Got You,” Best R&B Song for “You Don’t Know My Name,” Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for “My Boo.” She also won Best R&B Video at both the 2004 and 2005 MTV Video Music Awards for the album’s “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Karma,” respectively.

In 2005 she released Unplugged which was her first live album. It was recorded as part of the TV show MTV Unplugged MTV Unplugged on July 4, 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, New York City, and released in the United States on October 11, 2005 by J Records, including songs from her multi-platinum albums Songs in A Minor and TheDiary of Alicia Keys.

The album didn’t produce any Top 10 hits, although one of the two new songs, “Unbreakable,” reached Number 34. Although it was her worst-selling album to date, selling one million copies in the U.S. and two million worldwide, it was the highest-charting unplugged debut since Nirvana’s in 1994 and was nominated for four Grammys.

Her next album ‘As I Am’ came out in 2007 and once again proved to be a phenomenal success. The album debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and became an international commercial success. It spawned the super hit singles, ‘No One’ and ‘Another Wayto Die’.alicia-keys-52fe6b25-hero

2009-2012

In 2009, she released the album, ‘The Element of Freedom’, in which she departed from the classicist soul music that dominated her previous albums. Characterized by a mid-tempo, low-key sound it features mostly ballads. It was a commercial success and received positive reviews from critics.

In the same year she approached Clive Davis for permission to submit a song for Whitney Houston’s sixth studio album  I Look to You. She subsequently co-wrote and produced the single “Million Dollar Bill” with record producer Swizz Beatz.  And a few  months later, she was featured on rapper Jay-Z’s song “Empire State of Mind” which was the lead single from his eleventh studio album The Blueprint 3.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers also honored Keys withthe Golden Note Award, an award given to artists “who have achieved extraordinary career milestones”.

Keys released her fourth studio album, The Element of Freedom, in December 2009. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 417,000 copies in its first week. As part of the promotional drive for the album, she performed at the Cayman Islands Jazz Festival on December 5, the final night of the three-day festival which will be broadcast on BET.

In February 2010, Keys released the single; “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” peaked at fifty-five on the Hot 100 and seventy-six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In May, “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” featuring rapper Drake was released as the album’s fifth single. While only peaking at twenty-one on the Billboard Hot 100, it topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for twelve consecutive weeks. The song became the album’s most successful single; Keys eighth number one on the chart; and Key’s first number one song in five years. The album’s sixth and final single, “Wait Til You See My Smile”, was released in December 2010 in the United Kingdom.

Keys released her fifth studio album Girl on Fire through RCA Records on November 27, 2012. Keys has stated that she wants the album to “liberate” and “empower” fans.

 

 

2012- DATEAlicia Keys Live! World Aids Day Charity Concert for American Express

 

On March 25, 2016, Keys was announced to be joining Miley Cyrus as a new judge on Season 11 of The Voice.

On May 4, 2016, Keys released her first single in four years, entitled “In Common”.

On May 28, 2016, Keys performed in the opening ceremony of 2016 UEFA Champions League Final in San Siro, Milan.

 

On July 26, 2016, Keys performed at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

by Alex Muriuki