There is probably no other artist who can boast of being an acclaimed song writer, pianist, actress, music video director, author, philanthropist and a proven singer! Alicia Keys, the American R&B and neo-soul performer is all this and more. Alicia Keys' music is something special and unique as she has successfully managed to combine various music genres with outstanding results. Alicia Keys still remains one of the greatest voices of the moment even though her music is sometimes heavily criticized.
Alicia Keys: Bio
Alicia J. Augello-Cook or Alicia Keys was born on January 25, 1980. She is credited within the music industry all over the world with record sales of over forty million singles and albums. She is the recipient of nine prestigious Grammy Awards, eleven Billboard Music Awards, three American Music Awards, among a myriad of others. This Manhattan born superstar is the daughter of Teresa Augello, an Irish-Scottish part-time actress and a flight attendant, Craig Cook. Keys' was raised by her mother. Keys began playing the piano when she was only seven. She was a keen listener and learned from the compositions by Mozart and Beethoven and Chopin.
Keys is a graduate from Manhattan's Professional Performing Arts School. She initially signed on with Columbia Records, in collaboration with Jermaine Dupri. The Men In Black soundtrack 'Dah Dee Dah Sexy Thing' was co-written and recorded by Alicia and incidentally her first professional recording! With Clive Davis, Alicia went on to record songs like 'Rock wit U' and 'Rear View Mirror'. The former featured on the soundtrack of Shaft, while the latter was part of the success story called Dr. Dolittle. Songs in a Minor was Keys' debut album. The album is on record as a grosser of more than 50,000 sales on the very first day! The album established Keys as a popular artist beyond the U.S.
Alicia Keys became the 'Best Selling New Artist' in 2001 and also the 'Best Selling R&B Artist'. Her performances in 'Fallin', 'Someday We'll All Be Free' and 'A Woman's Worth' won her international acclaim. A Woman's Worth won five Grammy Awards for 'Fallin'. Keys' work is much-loved by people of all age groups because of her uncanny similarity in appeal and sound to the 1970 soul singers like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield and the neo soul and hip hop artists like D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill. The Diary of Alicia Keys debuted at number one in the U.S. The release went on to become the second biggest-selling album by a female R&B artist and the sixth by a female artist world-wide.
Alicia Keys is internationally acclaimed for her singles You Don't Know My Name, If I Ain't Got You and Diary. Her experiment with classical and hip hop resulted in Karma, which got to a number 3 on the Billboard Top 100. 'If I Ain't Got You' surpassed the record of 'Your Child' by Mary Blige, on the Billboard charts. Alicia has become immortal with her experiments with hits like Georgia on my Mind, If I Ain't Got You, You Don't Know My Name and My Boo. Keys' performance on the MTV Unplugged series added new arrangements to her original hits.
Heartburn was her experiment with funk music, while Love It or Leave It Alone was a rap music initiative. Alicia has even enthralled her audiences with reggae in Welcome to Jamrock. Stolen Moments was co-written by Alicia Keys and producer Lamont Green.
Unbreakable, from the album ascended to number four on the Billboard Hot R&B and Hip-Hop Hot 100! Alicia has created a niche for her music with the recognition earned as Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performer, Outstanding Female Artist and Outstanding Music Video Performer. Keys has tasted success via a number of popular tie ups with artists like Britney Spears. 'As I Am' is on record as number one on the Billboard 200 and the largest sales for a female solo artist. In December 2009, Alicia released her fourth studio album "The Element of Freedom". The album, which has a mid-tempo, low-key sound and features mostly ballads, debuted at number two on the Billboard US Charts and became her first number one album in the U.K. It has sold four million copies worldwide and 1,391,300 copies in the United States. Keys supported this album with a world tour, The Freedom Tour.
No One, Like You'll Never See Me Again and Gravity set a record as Keys' entry into the Numero Uno slot. Keys has opened a recording studio in New York, co owned by her production and songwriting partner Kerry Brothers. Keys has appeared in cameos in the television series American Dreams, Charmed, Mission To Mars, The Backyardigans and Cane. Keys stormed the celluloid with Smokin Aces, as the assassin Georgia Sykes. In 2009 Alicia Keys appear in the motion picture "The Secret Life of Bees." that starred other notable stars like Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, and Dakota Fanning. Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and 25 million singles, which makes her one of the best-selling artists of all time. In 2010, VH1 included Keys on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
In July 2010, Keys married Swizz Beatz (real name: Kasseem Dean) and in October 2010, the couple welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Egypt Daoud Dean. Keys' voice spans three octaves and has a range of a contralto. She is often referred to as the Princess of Soul. Keys has been commended as having a strong, raw and impassioned voice while others feel that she pushes her voice out of its natural range and her voice is, at times, emotional manufactured. Keys' songwriting is often criticized for lack of depth, which has led to her writing abilities being called limited and that her songs revolve around generalities.
Besides being a musician, Keys is the co-founder and Global Ambassador of a non-profit organization"Keep a Child Alive" that provides medicine to families with AIDS and HIV in Africa. Alicia Keys is an evolving artist who says that her music allows her to speak freely and that her music doesn't have a beginning or ending because it's an integral part of my ongoing journey. Whatever be her chosen field, Alicia Keys will be a creative force and will forever be the consummate musician, actress, entrepreneur, humanitarian and philanthropist.