-----Alicia was raised by a single mother in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan in New York City. At age seven, Keys began to play classical music on the piano. She received formal training in classical piano and jazz stylings of Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller, and Marian McPartland with her instructor Margaret Pine.
Alicia then attended the Professional Performing Arts School under the tutelage of Miss Aziza, a bold pianist who wrote and composed original songs, that Keys was introduced to the art of songwriting and producing.
Discovered by manager Jeff Robinson in 1994 at a Harlem PAL when she was 14, Keys performed throughout the tri-state area, anywhere and everywhere she could from tiny clubs to street corners. Alicia graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School at 16 as valedictorian.
Robinson introduced Keys to her future A&R at Arista Records, Peter Edge, who later described his first impressions to HitQuarters: "I had never met a young R&B artist with that level of musicianship. So many people were just singing on top of loops and tracks, but she had the ability, not only to be part of hip-hop, but also to go way beyond that."
Edge helped Robinson create a showcase for Keys and also got involved in developing her demo material. He was keen to sign Keys himself but was unable to do so at that time due to being on the verge of leaving his present record company. Keys signed to Columbia Records soon after.
At the same time as signing a recording contract with Columbia, Keys was accepted into Columbia University in New York City. At first, Keys attempted to manage both but after four weeks dropped out of college to pursue her musical career full time
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Keys was strongly influenced by music from all different generations and disciplines including the essential music of Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder; classical compositions of Frederic Chopin, Erik Satie, and Leontyne Price; and urban lyricists such as Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and the Wu-Tang Clan.
Keys released her debut album with Clive Davis’ J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records. The road was far from being easy, but Keys’ eclectic education and early life lessons inspired her musical hybrid of soul, hip-hop, jazz and classical.
Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "Fallin'."
Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005.
Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. She became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.
Keys made guest appearances on several television series in the following years, beginning with Charmed. She made her film debut in Smokin' Aces and went on to appear in The Nanny Diaries in 2007.
Her third studio album, As I Am, was released in the same year and sold six million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. The following year, she appeared in The Secret Life of Bees, which earned her a nomination at the NAACP Image Awards.
She released her fourth album, The Element of Freedom, in December 2009, which became Keys' first chart-topping album in the United Kingdom.
Keys is the co-founder and Global Ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organization that provides medicine to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa. Keys and U2 lead singer Bono recorded a cover version of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's "Don't Give Up," in recognition of World AIDS Day 2005.
Keys and Bono's version of the song was retitled "Don't Give Up (Africa)" to reflect the nature of the charity. She visited African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to promote care for children affected by AIDS. Her work in Africa was documented in the documentary Alicia in Africa: Journey to the Motherland.
Keys has also donated to Frum tha Ground Up, a non-profit organization that aids children and teenagers with scholarships. She performed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the worldwide Live 8 concerts to raise awareness of the poverty in Africa and to pressure the G8 leaders to take action.
In 2005, Keys performed on ReAct Now: Music & Relief and Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, two benefit programs that raised money for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
In July 2007, Keys and Keith Urban performed The Rolling Stones' 1969 song "Gimme Shelter" at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey at the American leg of the Live Earth concerts.
Keys performed Donny Hathaway's 1973 song "Someday We'll All Be Free" at the America: A Tribute to Heroes televised benefit concert following the September 11 attacks.
For her work, Keys was honored at the 2009 BET Awards with the Humanitarian Award. Keys performed the song "Prelude to a Kiss," retitled "Send Me an Angel", from her 2007 album As I Am for the "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" telethon in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
For more about Alicia, visit her Website at -