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November 2nd, 2009

Biography of Alicia Keys

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Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys
January 25, 1980
New York, N.Y.

With 2001’s Songs in A Minor, Alicia Keys convinced an entire generation hooked on Britney, boy bands and backup dancers that the simplicity of a woman and her piano can have pop appeal. The 21-year-old’s blend of R&B, hip hop and classical music earned her five Grammys.

Keys, who has since sold 20 million albums worldwide and rounded out her Grammy collection to nine, grew up in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen where her single mother pushed her into the arts. At 16, she left Columbia University to embark on her music professionally, eventually finding constant supporters in manager Jeff Robinson and music mogul Clive Davis, who signed her to his J Records label.

Keys, who has repeatedly appeared in PEOPLE’s Most Beautiful issue, parlayed her fame into philanthropic work as an ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, which provides HIV and AIDS medicine to families in 


Alicia Keys

A Prodigy’s Start

As a preschooler, Alicia Keys is singled out for her musical ability. “Her teacher, who was very much into the arts, had Alicia singing a song from Cats – at barely 4 years old,” her mother Terri Augello, a professional actress, tells&nb
sp;Ebony in 2007. Augello gets her daughter a gig on The Cosby Show (left) in March 1985 when she is 5, and enrolls her in gymnastics, piano, and ballet. “Being a single parent raising her in the city, I tried to give her every opportunity, just so she could find out what her muse was,” Augello adds.

mid 1990s

Alicia Keys

Alicia’s Believers

Keys, 14, meets Jeff Robinson at a Harlem PAL (Police Activities League), and he becomes her trusted friend and manager. At 16, Keys attends Columbia University, but leaves her studies for a record deal with Columbia Records. She encounters creative differences with the label, and Clive Davis, then head of Arista, buys out the 17-year-old’s contract, and she follows him to his new label, J Records (from left, Robinson, Keys’ mother Terri, Keys and Davis).


Alicia Keys

Fallin’ into Songs in A Minor

With producer Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Keys find her sound and releases the piano-driven ballad “Fallin’,” off her debut album Songs in A MinorRolling Stonesays the album “unleashes neosoul’s newest princess, a black woman impacted equally by hip-hop, soul, Prince and classical.”

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