About Alicia Keys
Alicia Augello Cook , known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American singer-songwriter. A classically-trained pianist, Keys began composing songs by age 12 and was signed at 15 years old by Columbia Records. After disputes with the label, she signed with Arista Records, and later released her debut album, Songs in A Minor, with J Records in 2001. The album was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Fallin'" and selling over 16 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002. Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys , was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles "You Don't Know My Name", "If I Ain't Got You", and "Diary", and selling eight million copies worldwide. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards. Her duet "My Boo" with Usher became her second number-one single in 2004. Keys released her first live album, Unplugged , and became the first woman to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one.
Her third album, As I Am , produced the Hot 100 number-one single "No One", selling 7 million copies worldwide and earning an additional three Grammy Awards. In 2007, Keys made her film debut in the action-thriller film Smokin' Aces. She, along with Jack White, recorded "Another Way to Die" . Her fourth album, The Element of Freedom , became her first chart-topping album in the UK, and sold 4 million copies worldwide. In 2009, Keys also collaborated with Jay Z on "Empire State of Mind", which became her fourth number-one single and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Girl on Fire was her fifth Billboard 200 topping album, spawning the successful title track, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. In 2013, VH1 Storytellers was released as her second live album. Her sixth studio album, Here , became her seventh US R&B/Hip-Hop chart-topping album. Her seventh studio album, Alicia, was released on September 18, 2020.
Keys has received numerous accolades in her career, including 15 competitive Grammy Awards, 17 NAACP Image Awards, 12 ASCAP Awards, and an award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and National Music Publishers Association. She has sold over 40 million albums and 35 million singles worldwide and was named by Billboard the top R&B artist of the 2000s decade. She placed tenth 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 and 100 Greatest Women in Music lists, while Time has named her in their 100 list of most influential people in 2005 and 2017. Keys is also acclaimed for her humanitarian work, philanthropy and activism; she co-founded and serves as the Global Ambassador of the nonprofit HIV/AIDS-fighting organization Keep a Child Alive.
Alicia Augello Cook was born on January 25, 1981, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. She is the only child of Teresa Augello, who was a paralegal and part-time actress, and one of three children of Craig Cook, who was a flight attendant. Keys' father is African American and her mother is of Italian descent; her maternal grandparents came from Sciacca in Sicily. Keys also states she has some Irish or Scottish ancestry. Named after her Puerto Rican godmother, Keys expressed that she was comfortable with her multiracial heritage because she felt she was able to "relate to different cultures". Keys' father left when she was two and she was subsequently raised by her mother during her formative years in Hell's Kitchen. Keys said her parents never had a relationship, and her father was not in her life. Although she did not like to speak about her father in order to not feed stereotypes, Keys remarked in 2001: "I'm not in contact with him. That's fine. When I was younger, I minded about that. made me angry. But it helped show me what a strong woman my mother was, and made me want to be strong like her. Probably, it was better for me this way." Keys and her mother lived in a one-room apartment. Her mother often worked three jobs to provide for Keys, who "learned how to survive" from her mother's example of tenacity and self-reliance.
From a young age, Alicia struggled with self-esteem issues, "hiding" little by little when her differences made her vulnerable to judgement, and later uninvited sexual attention. Living in the rough neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, she was, from an early age, regularly exposed to street violence, drugs, prostitution, and subjected to sexual propositions in the sex trade- and crime-riddled area. "I saw a variety of people growing up, and lifestyles, lows and highs. I think it makes you realise right away what you want and what you don't want", Keys said. Keys recalled feeling fearful early on of the "animal instinct" she witnessed, and eventually feeling "high" due to recurrent harassment. Her experiences in the streets had led her to carry a homemade knife for protection. She became very wary, emotionally guarded, and she began wearing gender-neutral clothing and what would become her trademark cornrows. Keys explained that she is grateful for growing up where she did as it prepared her for the parallels in the music industry, particularly as she was a teenager starting out; she could maintain a particular focus and not derail herself. She credits her "tough" mother for anchoring her on a right path as opposed to many people she knew who ended up on the wrong path and in jail. Keys attributed her unusual maturity as a young girl to her mother, who depended on her to be responsible while she worked to provide for them and give Keys as many opportunities as possible.
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