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Famous Like Me > Singer > K > Alicia Keys

Profile of Alicia Keys on Famous Like Me

Name: Alicia Keys  
Also Know As: Alicia Augello Cook
Date of Birth: 25th January 1981
Place of Birth: New York City, New York, USA
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Alicia Keys (born Alicia Augello Cook on January 25, 1981 in Manhattan, New York) is an American R&B and Soul singer, composer, record producer, and pianist.


Family and musical background

Alicia was born to an Irish-Italian mother, Terri Augello, and a Jamaican father, Craig Cook, and was raised in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Keys began playing piano when she was seven. She learned classical music by playing 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' mother was the one who most supported her during the time she was developing her talents. Keys' mother and father separated during her early childhood, thus she was raised by her mother during her formative years. However, Keys has now reconciled her relationship with her father.


Keys graduated as valedictorian from the Professional Performing Arts School, a public high school in Manhattan at the age of sixteen. 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 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.

Professional music career

Songs in A Minor (2001): The Debut

Songs In A Minor (2001)

Alicia burst onto the music scene in June 2001 with her debut release Songs In A Minor on Clive Davis’ J Records. Songs in A Minor was a commercially successful album when it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 selling over 235,000 copies in its first week (50 000 in its first day) of release and going on to sell more than 10 million units worldwide symbolizing the international impact she has as an artist. . Its first single "Fallin'" was a huge hit as well, gaining airplay on many different radio formats and spending six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Keys also gained visibility with her resolute performance of Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free" at the America: A Tribute to Heroes televised benefit concert following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A subsequent single, "A Woman's Worth", made the Top 10 as well. With the album she won five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "Fallin'".

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 21st century. Critical reviews were mostly positive. Keys' work had a sound similar to 1970s soul singers such as Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye along with hip hop influences like those apparent in neo soul artists such as Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and D'Angelo. However some critics went further by accusing her of outright plagiarism, especially in the case of her single "Fallin'", which interpolates James Brown's "It's A Man's World" right down to the string arrangement.

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003)

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003).

After extensive touring, Alicia followed up her debut with The Diary of Alicia Keys, released in December 2003. The album was hailed by critics and debuted at #1 selling over 618,000 copies its first week of release in the United States. The Diary of Alicia Keys has currently sold 7 million copies worldwide. The songs "You Don't Know My Name" and "If I Ain't Got You" both became Top 5 hits, and another single "Diary" became a top ten hit with the later classical/hip-hop influenced "Karma" also receiving attention peaking at #20 on the Billoard Hot 100 chart.

At the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards Keys led Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder in their version of Wonder's "Higher Ground". At the 2005 Grammy Awards, she gave a performance of 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", the Hoagy Carmichael song made famous by the late Ray Charles. That night she went home with 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).

MTV Unplugged (2005)

Alicia Keys Unplugged (2005)

Keys performed and taped her installment of the "MTV Unplugged" series in July at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which was released on CD and DVD on 11 October 2005. The album - known simply as Unplugged - opened at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 LP Chart with sales of 196,000 units sold in first week of release . During this live session, Keys added brand-new arrangements to her original songs such as "A Woman's Worth" and "Heartburn", and performed a few choice covers. Part of Keys' audience also included her guest performers, she collaborated with several top acts such as rappers Common and Mos Def for "Love It or Leave It Alone", reggae artist Damian Marley for "Welcome to Jam Rock" and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine for a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses".

In addition to a cover of "Every Little Bit Hurts", previously performed by female greats like Aretha Franklin and Brenda Holloway, Keys also unveiled two new original songs: "Stolen Moments", which she co-wrote with soul legend Al Green, and "Unbreakable" .

Alicia Keys' Unplugged set debuted on top of the Billboard Hot 200 in the week ending October 29, 2005.


  • Besides a being musician, Keys' is also an active philanthropist. She is a spokewoman of the organisations Keep A Child Alive and "Frum Tha Group Up. Keep A Child Alive aims to provide lifesaving medicine for children and families liiving with HIV and AIDS, whilst "Frum Tha Group Up" is dovoted to inspiring, encouranging and motivating American youths to achieve success on all levels.
  • Keys became an Honorary Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. on September 24, 2004.
  • Keys is a soon-to-be actress; she will play piano wunderkind Philippa Schuyler in an upcoming movie entitled Composition in Black and White. She is currently shooting a movie alongside Ben Affleck entitled Smokin Aces scheduled for release in 2006, in which she plays a ruthless assassin.
  • In 2005, TIME magazine named Alicia Keys one of "The Most Influential People In The World."
  • In July 2005, Alicia keys was voted the second most powerful artist in the pop industry, she was pipped from the #1 position by fellow R&B star Usher in the Los Angeles Times 2005 Pop Power List, reports The Sun. The list was compiled by 21 industry bigwigs including producers Jermaine Dupri, Rick Rubin and entrepreneur Russell Simmons.



Year Album title Chart position Sales status
2001: Songs in A Minor #1 US (3 weeks) 6x Platinum (6 million sales) U.S., 10 million worldwide
2003: The Diary of Alicia Keys #1 US (2 weeks) 4x Platinum (4.4 million sales) U.S., 7 million worldwide
2005: Unplugged #1 US (1 week) (196,000 sales) U.S., 245,000 worldwide


Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US R&B/Hip-Hop UK Singles Chart AUS Top 50
2001 "Fallin'" #1 (6 weeks) #1 #3 #2 Songs in A Minor
2002 "A Woman's Worth" #7 #2 #18 #16 Songs in A Minor
2002 "How Come You Don't Call Me" #59 - #26 #29 Songs in A Minor
2002 "Gangsta Lovin'" (Eve featuring Alicia Keys) #2 #1 #6 #4 Eve's Eve-Olution
2002 "Girlfriend" - #82 #24 #13 Songs in A Minor
2003 "You Don't Know My Name" #3 #1 (9 weeks) #19 - The Diary of Alicia Keys
2004 "If I Ain't Got You" #4 #1 (5 weeks) #18 - The Diary of Alicia Keys
2004 "Diary" (featuring Tony! Toni! Tone!) #8 #2 - - The Diary of Alicia Keys
2004 "Karma" #20 - - - The Diary of Alicia Keys
2004 "My Boo" (Usher and Alicia Keys) #1 (6 weeks) #1 #5 #1 Usher's Confessions (Special Edition)
2005 "Unbreakable" #36 #13 - - Unplugged

Career Achievements

  • Best selling new artist of 2001
  • Best selling female R&B artist of 2001 and 2004.
  • Keys' has won over 50 awards during her career so far including 9 Grammy Awards. She is one of only four female artists to have 5 Grammys in one year, the other female artists being Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and Beyonce.
  • In January 2005 the single "If I Ain't Got You" became the longest running track by a female artist in the history of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks Chart, surpassing Mary J. Blige's "Your Child" (49 weeks). "If I Ain't Got You" stayed on the chart for more than one year.
  • "If I Ain't Got You" becomes the first title by a female artist to remain on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Chart for more than one year. This has never happened in the 63 year history of the chart.
  • First female R&B artist to have three consecutive #1 debuts on the Billboard 200 album chart in as many releases.
  • First female artist to have an Unplugged debut at #1, beating past MTV Unplugged releases by Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Alanis Morissette, and Shakira.
  • Keys's Unplugged is the highest debut from the Unplugged series since Nirvana's 1994 release of MTV Unplugged.


  • Tears For Water


  • Tour in USA (2001)
  • European Tour (2001-2002)
  • Asian/Australian Tour (2004)
  • The Verizon Ladies First Tour (2004) [With Beyonce & Missy Elliot]
  • European Tour (2004)
  • The Diary Tour in USA (2005)

Awards and nominations

For more details on this topic, see Alicia Keys' Awards and Nominations.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Alicia Keys