Introduction and Early Life:
Alicia Keys is an American R&B singer, musician, and actress. Widely credited as one of the most popular R&B artists of her generation, she has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
Born “Alicia Augello Cook” on January 25, 1981 in the notorious locality of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, her Jamaican father and Irish-Italian mother divorced when she was very young. Keys was given into the custody of her mother, who introduced her to piano and music at seven years old. A quick learner, she began performing the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin at an early age.
Career and Musical Achievements:
Alicia Keys was only 16 when she graduated as valedictorian from the Professional Performing Arts School, a public art institution in Manhattan. She attended college for a brief period of time and decided to pursue music as a career when secured a record deal from Columbia Records. Keys was only 20 years old when she released her debut album, Songs in A Minor (2001), which peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and sold over 12 million copies since its release.
Keys won five categories at the Grammy awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year. She released four more albums since her debut: The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), As I Am (2007), The Element of Freedom (2009) and Girl on Fire (2012). Her film debut happened in 2006, when she starred in Smokin’ Aces. In 2008, Keys played “June Boatwright” in The Secret Life of Bees alongside Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah. She was widely acclaimed for her discipline and focus as an actress.
Besides her singing career, Keys has also become an accomplished record producer, social activist and entrepreneur.
Awards and Accolades:
Alicia Keys was honored with three NAACP Image Awards and the Starlight Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2010, she was included on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. Billboard magazine ranks her no. 10 on their 2010 compilation of “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years”.
Alicia Keys married hip hop star Swizz Beatz on July 31, 2010. The couple have a son, Egypt Daoud Ibarr Dean, born October 14, 2010.