Alicia Keys (born Alicia J. Augello-Cook, 25.1.1985)
Alicia Keys is an American-born R&B musician. She has sold over 25 million albums worldwide and won a number of high-profile awards, including 11 Grammy Awards, 11 Billboard Awards and three American Music Awards.
Alicia Keys: Childhood
Alicia was born in Harlem, New York, to Teresa Augello (of Irish and Scottish heritage) and Craig Cook (a Jamaican). Her parents separated when she was young and she was raised by her mother in Manhattan.
In 1985, she played one of a group of girls at Rudy Huxtable's sleepover in hit comedy show, The Cosby Show. She began to play the piano aged seven and attended the Professional Performing Arts School aged only 16.
Alicia Keys: Music Career
Keys dropped out of university to pursue her musical career and signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label. She co-wrote a track for the Men In Black film soundtrack, entitled `Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing), though it was never released as a single.
Arista records - now disbanded - signed Alicia Keys, but when the company ceased to exist, Keys followed Clive Davis, who instigated the signing, to his new label, J Records.
She wrote two more soundtrack songs, `Rock Wit U' for Shaft and `Rear View Mirror', for Dr. Dolittle 2. She then released her debut solo album, Songs In A Minor in 2001.
Songs In A Minor sold over 235,000 copies in its first week and went on sell in excess of 10 million copies worldwide. The first single from the album, `Fallin'' received a great deal of radio airplay on many different stations and spent six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100's number one spot.
As a result of the praise for the album, Alicia Keys is one of the five female artists who have won five Grammy Awards in a single night. The others are Lauryn Hill (1999), Norah Jones (2003), Beyonce (2004) and Amy Winehouse (2008).
Alicia Keys also wrote, played piano, produced and sang backing vocals for Christina Aguilera's song `Impossible' from Aguilera's 2002 album, stripped.
Key's second album was entitled The Diary of Alicia Keys and was released in 2003. It became the sixth biggest-selling album by a female artist and the second biggest-selling album by and R&B artist. It has sold over nine million copies worldwide.
In 2005, Alicia Keys joined Jamie Foxx and Quincy Jones on a performance of `Georgia On My Mind,' a song made famous by Ray Charles in 1980. She won four Grammy Awards that night and was nominated for a fifth.
In 2005, Keys released a recording of her MTV Unplugged performance, recorded at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. Rappers Common and Mos Def collaborated with Keys as part of the performance, as well as Damien Marley (son of Bob Marley) and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, with whom she performed a cover of The Rolling Stones song, `Wild Horses.'
Key's third studio album, As I Am, was released in 2007. The album achieved first-week sales of 742,000 copies: the largest sales week of Key's career. The lead single `No One' earned the singer a further two Grammy Awards. She opened the ceremony with an unusual duet, featuring footage of the deceased Frank Sinatra, singing his 1950's song `Learnin' The Blues.'
Alicia Keys: Film and TV career
In the 2000's, Keys made a number of bit-part appearances in TV shows such as Charmed and American Dreams.
Her big-screen debut came in early 2007 when she co-starred in Smokin' Aces, alongside Ben Affleck and Ray Liotta. She went on to star in an adaptation of The Nanny Diaries alongside Scarlett Johansson.