Alicia Augello-Cook (born January 25, 1981 in Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.), better known by her stage name Alicia Keys, is an American recording artist, musician and actress. She 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 attended Professional Performing Arts School and graduated at 16 as valedictorian. She later attended Columbia University before dropping out to pursue her music career.
In 2000, Alicia Keys was the one out of the three first artists signed to Clive Davis' now-defunct label, J Records (along with Mario Barrett and Olivia); later released her debut album with the label that following year, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then, Arista Records.
Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor[/I], was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide and peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200. 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 the second album to peak at the top spot, pushing off JAY-Z's Black album, an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, MTV Unplugged: Alicia Keys, 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 (with fellow co-star Common) 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, however, it was a commercial disappointment, debuting at #2 on both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B Albums chart behind Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream and Mary J. Blige's Stronger with Each Tear, respectively. Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. Billboard magazine named her the top R&B artist of the 2000–2009 decade, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time.
During 2010, it was rumored that Keys was dating hip-hop musician Swizz Beatz, in which she later stated it was true. They wedded in March 2011 and had 3 children later on. On October 27, 2011, Alicia Keys received an e-mail from Sony Music Entertainment (J's parent label), informing that all four labels: J Records, Arista Records, Jive Records and LaFace Records, will all be shut down and merged altogether to re-form RCA Records. It means that all of the artists that were previously signed to the four defunct labels (including Keys herself, Chris Brown, R. Kelly, Kid Ink, D'Angelo, Pitbull, Pink, Usher, ASAP Rocky, Christina Aguilera, etc.) were either/all to be re-arranged to RCA or to leave Sony Music.
In late 2012, Alicia Keys released her first project for RCA since the Jive/J/Arista/LaFace shut-down mergers, Girl on Fire, which became her fourth album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 and helped garnered her successful album title single (later remixed featuring Nicki Minaj) and "New Day" (which, at first, featured 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, but was cut-off).
On June 25, 2014, Keys announced her Alicia Youth Foundation, which helps children with problems related to education and poverty.
In 2015, amid the most controversial event of the year and in music rivalry history, The 7 Rivalries in 7 Days, after Ja Rule vs. Chief Keef, Tamar Braxton vs. DeJ Loaf, Young Thug vs. J. Cole and Azealia Banks vs. Ciara, Alicia Keys (in Day 5 of the event) has ignited her first music feud in her career as an artist with female rapper Lil' Kim.
In 2016, Keys generated more controversy after grudging body images on women, which caused a feud with singer Teairra Mari; later that year, Keys released her sixth album, Here, which became another commercial disappointment in the singer's career.