Alicia Keys (born Alicia J. Augello-Cook
on January 25, 1980) is an American R&B and soul singer, songwriter,
musician, composer, pianist, record producer, and occasional actress and author.
Keys is a renowned artist who has sold twenty-eight million albums and singles
worldwide and won numerous awards, including nine Grammy's, eleven Billboard
Music Awards and three American Music Awards.
Keys was born to an Irish-Italian mother, Terri Augello, and a Jamaican
father, Craig Cook, in the Harlem neighborhood of
City. She was raised in poor home in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of
City. In 1985, Keys and a group of other girls won the parts of Rudy Huxtable's
sleepover guests in an episode of The Cosby Show (the episode became the only
time Keys was credited under her real name). She began playing piano when she
was seven, learning classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and
her favorite Chopin. She wrote her first song "Butterflyz" at the age
of fourteen; the song was later recorded for her debut album. Keys' mother and
father separated during her early childhood, thus she was raised by her mother
during her formative years; her mother was the one who most supported her during
the time she was developing her musical talents. The press reported in 2005 that
Keys was attempting to reconcile with her father. However, Keys denied this
and said her words were misinterpreted.
Keys graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School, a high school
, at the age of sixteen. Keys signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri and his So
So Def label, then distributed to Columbia Records. She wrote and recorded a
song entitled "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)" which appeared on the
soundtrack for the 1997 blockbuster, Men in Black. The song was Keys' first
professional recording, it was never released as a single and her record
contract with Columbia Records was ended quickly and Keys later met Clive Davis
who signed her to Arista Records, which has since disbanded. Following her
mentor Clive Davis to his newly-formed J Records label, she recorded songs
"Rock Wit U" and "Rear View Mirror" which featured on the
soundtracks to the movies Shaft (2000) and Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) respectively.
Keys then 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.
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