The Alicia Keys biography is the story of a multi talented artist whose work in both music and films has won her fans around the globe. Keys' talent was evident from an early age, and she looks set to have a long career in the entertainment industry.
Alicia Keys Biography - The Early Years
Alicia Keys (real name Alicia Augello Cook) was born on January 25, 1981 in New York, New York. She got her start in music at the ripe old age of 7, when she began learning the piano. Not only did she show promise and talent early on, she also demonstrated an interest in being an entertainer from a young age. Her parents supported her dreams from the outset and sent her to New York's famed Professional Performing Arts School.
Except for one brief appearance on The Cosby Show, Keys did not have a great deal of involvement professionally with the entertainment world during her schooling. She did, however, prove herself to be a very capable student and graduated early from high school - at the age of 16 - as valedictorian of her class.
After graduation, Keys was accepted to Columbia University and started classes there. The Alicia Keys biography takes an important turn here, however, as the music industry came calling. Just one month after beginning her college career, Keys dropped out and signed a deal with a major label.
Major Label Deals - Finding the Right Home
The deal Keys signed that drew her away from school was actually a demo deal with Jermaine Dupree's So So Def label, which at the time was a subsidiary of major label Columbia Records. Under that deal, she recorded the song that introduced her to the public - Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing). This song was on the soundtrack to Men In Black (released in 1997), but neither Columbia nor So So Def released this song or any other Alicia Keys song as a single. In fact, the labels did not actively promote Keys as an artist and the deal soon fizzled out.
Key's biggest break came when she met mega music mogul Clive Davis. Davis, long respected in the industry for breaking top 40 acts, was at Arista Records at the time, and he signed Keys to a deal there.
Shortly after being signed to Arista, that label went under. Davis started his own record label, J Records, and convinced Keys to come with him to that label. Two more soundtrack stints followed - Rock Wit U on the soundtrack to the remake of Shaft and Rear View Mirror for the soundtrack to Doctor Doolittle 2. Things really began to take off for Keys with the release of her debut album.
Songs in A Minor
Key's debut album, Songs in A Minor, was released on June 5, 2001. It made a strong showing the first week - 235,000 copies sold, a solid result, especially for a debut album - and skyrocketed in the weeks that followed. The debut single from the album, Fallin, went to number one on the Billboard charts and stayed there for 6 weeks. On the back of Songs in A Minor, Keys won 5 Grammys, tying Lauryn Hill's record for most Grammys won in one night by a female artist.
Key's second album, released in 2002, was an unplugged version of Songs in A Minor, which include a few remixes, but her next original album was The Diary of Alicia Keys, released in December of 2003. The album debuted at number one and since has become the sixth best selling album by a female artist of all time. This album was also a big award winner for Keys, racking up Video Music Awards and four Grammys. The album has sold millions of copies worldwide.
Another unplugged album - this one called Unplugged - was released in 2005, and Keys followed up in 2007 with As I Am. Each album has bested the previous one in terms of sales, making Keys one of the best selling artists of recent years.
Although best known as a musician, Keys also have a thriving film career. She won rave reviews for her turn in The Secret Life of Bees in particular and has more film work scheduled for 2009 and beyond.