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This Story of Alicia Keys' Childhood Will Truly Inspire You

Childhood of Alicia Keys
Alicia Augello Cook is a professional singer, musician, and record producer. She has come out to be one of the most well-known female R&B singers. In this Melodyful post, we will know how she started on the path of music in her childhood.
Kashmira Lad
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017
Did You Know?
Alicia is tied with Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill for the most Grammys (5) won by a woman in a single year.
Alicia Keys is a very talented American R&B singer, and has twelve Grammy Awards to her credit. This is not her only claim to fame. This talented pop singer and actress is the recipient of several Billboard Awards as well as many American Music Awards. This sultry singer has wooed audiences worldwide with her singing talent.

Her first tryst with music began in her early childhood days. Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, sold more than 12 million copies. Here's a quick look at the childhood of Alicia Keys and the kind of atmosphere she was brought up in.
Popularly known as Alicia Keys, Alicia Augello Cook was born in the Hell's Kitchen area, New York, on January 25, 1981. She was born to Teresa Augello and Craig Cook. Teresa was a paralegal and a part-time actress, and Craig Cook was a flight attendant. Alicia had humble upbringings when her parents separated, and she spent her childhood with her mother. She was 2 when her parents divorced. Her mother was an Italian-American and her father was African-American.
Alicia keys
Alicia attributes these characteristics of her parents to her acceptance of other cultures.

Even though as a single parent Teresa struggled, she did not let it get in the way of Alicia's education. With her contacts, she even landed Alicia a cameo in The Bill Cosby Show when she was just 4 years old. Teresa also enrolled Alicia in piano lessons when she was just 7. Teresa also enrolled her in gymnastics, art, theater, and dance. This may be the reason Alicia is proficient in dancing as well as acting. Out of the many extracurricular activities she undertook, Alicia finally stuck to music.
Rough Neighborhood
As we mentioned, the neighborhood Alicia was brought up in was rough. Gang violence was rampant. Alicia credits her music lessons for her focus and drive. She attributes music for keeping her out of trouble in the neighborhood. But it did not keep her immune to the violence in the streets. Alicia carried a homemade knife in her pocket, which surprised her mother. She was strictly against it, but Alicia wanted to be safe and knew that the act of carrying the knife made her feel safe.
Musical Upbringing and Influences
In music, Alicia took piano lessons, where she practiced and studied Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. She took a liking to Chopin, and he became her favorite music composer. Her creativity flourished as she kept on with the piano lessons. She began writing her own songs and composing music for them when she was just 12 years old. Her mother saw this and enrolled Alicia in the Professional Performing Arts School, where she learned choir music, and was introduced to the music of Stevie Wonder, Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis.
Breakthrough Recognition
By the time she was 14, her piano instructor had nothing to teach her. She had mastered the piano. She turned to Jazz and turned her creativity towards it. She started a three-girl group called EmBishion in Harlem and started performing live. A voice coach by the name of Conrad Robinson noticed her and was very impressed. He brought her to his brother Jeff Robinson, an R&B manager. The Robinson brothers saw talent, personality, confidence and looks in Alicia. They requested her to play some songs on a piano, and she played her own songs with original compositions. They did not believe that she had composed the lyrics and music herself. Jeff Robinson became her long-time manager.

This recognition brought her to the attention of Colombia records, where she signed her first professional contract at 15. At 16, she graduated from high school and won a full scholarship to Columbia University. But her recording commitments kept her very busy, so she dropped out of college after just 4 weeks. While at Colombia, she wrote and co-performed the song "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)".
Disillusionment and then Independence
Alicia keys in music concert
At Colombia, however, she did not get the creative freedom she wanted. Her compositions were rejected by the producers and were termed as a "very long demo". Alicia suffered from the pressure to perform at that young age and almost succumbed to it. She says they wanted radio-friendly songs and promised her the top of billboard charts, but that never came.
She then moved into an apartment, living by herself, and bought recording equipment. She started recording her own songs. She was then introduced to Clive Davis, who signed her while at Arista Records. He was forced to retire and opened his own recording label named J Records. Alicia then adopted her stage name "Keys" and recorded her first singles and album at J Records.
An Inspiration
Alicia keys on stage
Alicia Keys' childhood exhibits her hardworking nature and also her will to be successful. She knew she was talented and so are the others. But she persevered and never gave up even with the odds against her. A rough neighborhood, a failed signing at a top recording company, coping with stress at a young ageā€•all this did not deter her at all. She worked tirelessly to produce music that was original.
And we know that she took the right steps because, today at an age of just 34, she has sold over 12 million records and has won 6 Grammy Awards. An impressive feat indeed.