Alicia Keys, 1981

  • Alicia-Keys-WWP

Woman Category: Music and Theater & CinemaWoman Tags: Actress, African-American Women, NYC Women, Producer, Singer, and Songwriter

  • HerStory

    Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, and actress.

    Born as Alicia Augello Cook in Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in NYC. Her father left when she was 2 years old, and she was raised mainly by her mother. As a child living in a rough neighborhood, Keys was exposed to drugs, prostitution, and street violence. She credits her mother for leading her to the right path, supporting her interest in music and performance, which began at a young age. In preschool, she sang in her school’s productions, and at the age of 6, began classical training, practicing the piano six hours a day. At 12, Keys wrote and composed her first song. Two years later, she began studying jazz.
    After graduating at age 16 as valedictorian from the Professional Performance Arts School, she signed a deal with the record producer Clive Davis, first at Arista Records and later at J Records. In 2001, 20-year-old Keys released her debut album “Songs in A Minor”, which included the #1 hit “Fallin”. The album sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, and Keys won 5 Grammy awards. Four years later, Keys released her second album, “The Diary of Alicia Keys”, for which she won 4 Grammys, including best album award and best song award, and for her 3rd album “As I Am”, Keys won 3 more Grammys. Throughout the years, Keys continued to release #1 hits, including “No One”, “Empire State of Mind”, and “Girl on Fire”. Overall between 2001 to 2016, Keys released 6 studio albums, 2 live albums, and 1 EP.
    In addition to being an acclaimed musician, Keys is also an actress. She acted in various films and TV shows, including “Empire”, “SNL”, “Smokin’ Aces”, and “The Secret Life of Bees”. She is also a film producer and directed one out of five segments of the movie “Five”. In 2004, Keys co-founded and became the global ambassador of ‘Keep a Child Alive’ – a non-profit organization providing medicines in Africa for HIV and AIDS.
    Alicia Keys is a women empowerment icon; her point of view can often be found in her lyrics as well as in the #nomakeup campaign she launched. In 2016 Keys wrote an essay in which she stated that she lost herself behind eyeliners and lipsticks, and since she is make-up free, she feels more beautiful than ever. She is encouraging other women to discover themselves without the masks.

    “You’ve got to love what’s yours”

    “You’ve got to love what’s yours”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • At age 5, she played one of Rudy’s friends in an episode of “The Cosby Show”.
    • In 2010 she married the record producer Swizz Beatz, they have 2 boys.
    • She learned to play the Cello within four weeks for her role in the movie “The Secret Life of Bees”.
    • She is the first female artist to have a single remaining on the billboard hot R&B/HIP-HOP song chart for more than a year (with the single “if I ain’t got you”).
    • In John Lennon’s birthday in 2016, she performed live in Times Square, NYC, “in the center of my city.” She kept the date and the location of the concert in secret till a day before the event. She called it #HereinTimesSquare and hosted some guests. Tickets were free, and it was broadcasted a few days later, all over the world.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Books she wrote
    * CDs of her music


    * 15 Grammy Awards
    * 17 NAACP Image Awards
    * 9 Billboard Music Awards
    * BET’s Humanitarian Award

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Alicia Keys Here in Times Square 2016, last 3 songs

  • Photo credit - WWP team.

  • Citations and Additional References:
    Official website.
    Wikipedia page.
    The Fact Site website.