Saturday, August 4, 2007

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys (born Alicia J. Augello-Cook on January 25, 1980) is an American R&B and soul singer, songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress, philanthropist, and author who has won numerous awards, including nine Grammy Awards, eleven Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards.

Keys was the only child born to an Irish-Italian mother, Teresa "Terri" Augello, and a Jamaican father, Craig Cook, in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, New York. Terri was a paralegal and actress, but Keys was raised in a semi-poor home in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Keys' mother and father separated during her early childhood, thus she was raised by her mother during her formative years.[2] Her mother was the one who most supported her during the time she was developing her musical talents. In 1985, Keys and a group of other girls won the parts of Rudy Huxtable's sleepover guests in an episode of The Cosby Show called "Slumber Party", aired on March 28 (the episode became the only time Keys was credited under her real name). She began playing the piano when she was seven, learning classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and her favorite, Chopin. The press reported in 2005 that Keys was attempting to reconcile with her father.[3] However, Keys denied this and said her words were misinterpreted.[4]
Keys graduated from the
Professional Performing Arts School, a high school in Manhattan, at the age of sixteen as valedictorian. Although accepted to Columbia University at age sixteen with a scholarship, she decided instead to pursue her musical career. Keys signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def label, then distributed by Columbia Records. She wrote and recorded a song entitled "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)", which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1997 blockbuster, Men in Black. The song was Keys' first professional recording; it was never released as a single and her record contract with Columbia Records ended quickly. Keys later met Clive Davis, who signed her to Arista Records, which has since disbanded. Following her mentor Clive Davis to his newly-formed J Records label, she recorded the songs "Rock wit U" and "Rear View Mirror", featured on the soundtracks to the films Shaft (2000) and Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) respectively. Keys then released her debut album Songs in A Minor in 2001, the title being a reference to both her classical aspirations and to the fact that she wrote most of the songs at a very young age.

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