When you think about music, beauty, intelligence, and creativity, who comes to your mind?
Well, most of Alicia Keys fans will say she is all of the above. She has captivated audiences from black to white, young and old, old school to new school, and she's just getting started. Born and raised in New York, Alicia was destined to make it big. At the tender age of 7, Alicia was introduced to the piano. She studied classical music from Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin (which was her favorite) and delved into such jazz greats as Marian McPartland, Oscar Peterson and Fats Waller. By the age of 14 she wrote her first song "Butterflyz" which is featured on her latest album "Songs in A Minor." Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, were all her inspirations as were Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z and Wu Tang. She took all of those different genres of music and rolled them all into one, to create a style all her own. The road to success wasn't an easy one. Born to a white mom, Terri Augello, and a black dad, Craig Cook, she grew up in Hell's Kitchen, New York. "It was kind of a cool spot, but 42nd Street then was no heaven. Prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers," recalls Keys. To cope with the street life, Alicia turned to piano-playing at the age of 7. She attended the Professional Performing Arts High School and rehearsed with vocal coach Conrad Robinson at the Harlem Police Athletic League Community center until at age 16. During this time, Alicia graduated as her high school valedictorian and was accepted to attend Columbia University. Conrad introduced Keys to his brother Jeff, Alicia's 'batman", who began searching for the right label. Right before starting college, Alicia signed her first deal with Columbia Records, and had to make the difficult decision to leave college in order to pursue her musical dreams. However, Alicia later left Columbia Records due to creative differences. Keys felt they were intruding upon her artistic freedom, and she wanted out. "I wanted to experiment a little more and find my own voice." At age 19, Alicia's wish came true when Clive Davis, who headed up Arista Record at the time, came up with the money to buy Keys out of Columbia and had the same vision as Alicia. She had found a new home with Clive Davis and when he established his new label J Records, Alicia moved with him. Finally, she had a home; a place she could be herself. Next came the fierce marketing campaign.
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Alicia Keys biography
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