ALICIA KEYS

By: Jaleah Wiggins

Artist History

Alicia Augello Cook, a.k.a. Alicia Keys was born in New York, New York, on January 25, 1981. Alicia Keys was raised by her mother, an actress, and paralegal in “Hell’s Kitchen” neighborhood. Her mother was fully supportive of her interests in music. Keys started playing piano at seven years old and attended Manhattan’s Professional Performance Arts School; she majored in choir. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school with a scholarship to Columbia University and a contract with Columbia Records. Keys started at Columbia University, where she wrote the song that catapulted her career and “that raise[d] the hair on her arms: Fallin. Ultimately, At the age of 18, Keys signed with Arista Records, and then a year later, she signed to J Records. Her style of music ranges from R&B to soul to pop and hip hop. Keys is a triple threat in the music industry: singer, writer, and producer, but there’s more to her than music…

Alicia Keys is a mother, wife, philanthropist, and activist. Keys married fellow artist and producer Swizz Beatz in July 2010. The couple’s first son, Egypt Dean, was born October of 2010, and Genesis Dean, their second son, was born in December of 2014.

Professional Career

Alicia Keys’s professional career has not been linear. Her work has extended beyond the realm of music. In 2001, her debut album, Songs in a Minor was released. This album garnered the first five or her 15 Grammy’s, including Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist. Keys has been making music in the popular culture scene from the late 90s until her most recent album entitled ALICIA. ALICIA is her seventh studio album, including songs “Show Me Love” and “Underdog”. Her music style ranges from soul, rhythm, and blues to funk and pop.

In between creating musical albums, Keys worked as a coach on “The Voice,” a singing competition show where artists all over the nation have the chance to sign with a record label. She was a part of the show for four seasons and won season 12 with her artist Chris Blue. Alicia Keys also has done film work. She released two short films: Let Me In and The Gospel. Let Me In sheds light on the refugee crisis and spreads awareness to Americans. She has acted in numerous tv shows over the years including, The Cosby Show, The Proud Family, Empire, and much more. She has also produced on tv; she executive produced The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete and Work It. Keys has also starred in many commercials for all types of brands ranging from skincare to activewear to cars.

Keys made history in 2019 by being the first woman to host the Grammys. She also performed the same night for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards and returned to host and perform the following year! Keys is also a philanthropist; she has given out scholarships to Black youth and others. Last year, Keys wrote a memoir entitled “More Myself: A Journey.” The memoir is a self-reflective book where she explains how she grew to be more comfortable with herself and her needs. Next for Keys is a beauty line! Keys launched Soulcare, a skincare and wellness brand that promotes self-esteem and self-love. A few months after launching Soulcare, she released a political-social song, “A Beautiful Noise”; the goal of this song was to inspire citizens to use their voices and vote.

Awards

2001-

Billboard Music Awards- Female Artist of the Year, New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year

MTV Video Music Awards- Best New Artist Video

2002-

AMA- Favorite New Artist Pop/Rock, Favorite New Artist Soul/R&B, Favorite Female  Soul/R&B Artist 

ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards- R&B/Hip-Hop Song

Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards- Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist Female, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist New, R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artist

BET Awards- Best New Artist

Grammy- Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album

2003- 

ASCAP Pop Awards- Most Performed Song

2004-

Billboard Music Awards- Female Artist of the Year, Hot 100 Songwriter of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Single of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Singles of the Year, Female R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year

BET Awards- Best Female R&B Artist

MTV Video Music Awards- Best R&B Video

2005-

ASCAP Pop Awards- Most Performed Song

ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards- Songwriter of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Song of the Year

Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards- Top Songwriter

Grammy- Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals

MTV Video Music Awards- Best R&B Video

 

2008-

AMA- Best Album Pop/Rock, Best Album Soul/R&B

BET Awards- Best Female R&B Artist

Grammy- Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album

2009-

ASCAP Pop Awards- Most Performed Song

ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards- Golden Note Award, R&B/Hip-Hop Song of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Award (x2)

BET Awards- Best Female R&B Artist, Humanitarian Award, Artist of the Decade

2010-

BET Awards- Best Collaboration

MTV Video Music Awards- Best Cinematography

2011-

Grammy- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Song

2014-

Grammy- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Song

Contemporaries

Janelle Monae, Ciara, Rihanna, and Jill Scott

Influences

Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, and Stevie Wonder 

Social Involvement

Keys is the cofounder of Keep A Child Alive along with Leigh Blake. Their organization is a nonprofit focused on providing support to families in India and various African countries who have HIV and AIDS. The organization provides “financial and programmatic support… [to] over 150,000 people each year.” KCA teaches leadership skills, talks about sexual and reproductive health rights, and so much more. KCA was founded in 2003, and one can donate to the foundation at any time. Alicia Keys has performed at many benefit concerts that spread awareness on various social issues of society. She has protested for women’s rights and Black peoples’ rights. In 2014, Keys launched We Are Here, a movement that empowers the global community around a host of issues and initiatives building a better world where all people are heard, respected, equal, and treated with dignity.

Conclusion

Since the age of 7, Alicia Keys has been making music. By some, Alicia is considered the Queen of R&B. Keys has received many awards in and outside of the music industry. She has worked hard her whole life to make a positive impact on her family, in her community, and in music. Keys is an influential Black woman making her mark in history all while taking time for herself and her children. She singer, songwriter, producer, actress, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. Alicia Keys is an example of determination, strength, humbleness, and grace. Her work in and outside of the music industry is something to look up to.

Discography

Songs in A Minor (2001)

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003)

As I Am (2007)

The Element of Freedom (2009)

Girl on Fire (2012)

Here (2016)

Alicia (2020)

ALICIA

Bibliography

“Alicia Keys’ Official Site.” Alicia Keys, aliciakeys.com/home/.

Americanvogue, director. 73 Questions With Alicia Keys | Vogue. YouTube, YouTube, 30 June 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwZjWigTTHM.

CBSSundayMorning, director. Alicia Keys Reflects on the Journey to Know Herself. YouTube, YouTube, 22 Mar. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M6xyYvGelo.

Lamarre, Carl. “Alicia Keys Is Finally Accepting Her Freedom, Womanhood & Happiness.” Billboard, 14 Aug. 2020, www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/9434366/alicia-keys-so-done-interview.

Oprah. “Oprah Talks to Alicia Keys.” Oprah.com, Sept. 2004, www.oprah.com/omagazine/oprahs-interview-with-alicia-keys.

“List of Awards and Nominations Received by Alicia Keys.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Apr. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Alicia_Keys.

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