Since the tender age of 5, Alicia Keys has proven herself a true musical prodigy. Born and raised in Manhattan, New York, a great deal of her upbringing was devoted to music and her aspirations to succeed as a performer. Piano lessons beginning at such an early age allowed Alicia to blossom into the exceptionally talented pianist she is today.
She credits much of her success to her mother’s insistence on her continuing with the lessons, and ultimately growing as an artist. Her ultra-supportive mother advised her that piano-playing was the one thing in life that she would not allow her daughter to give up on. While many children may consider this to be a form of punishment, Alicia thought otherwise. Piano-playing proved to become one of her true passions in life and she pursued it.
free as a songbird
Alicia eventually enrolled in the Professional Performance Arts School of Manhattan and chose to major in choir. An all-around outstanding student, her musical talents grew to an even higher level under the guidance of one of her instructors. This instructor helped to train her voice, enabling Alicia to further grow as a multi-talented musician.
At the age of 16, Alicia’s outstanding academic grades allowed her to finish high school early. Columbia University accepted her immediately thereafter, but she was intent on pursuing her love of music instead.
In 1998, major record labels began discovering her, which resulted in old-fashioned bidding wars in her honor. She eventually signed with Arista Records. At this point, she continued the process of writing, producing and recording the debut that she’d been working on since the age of 14.
fallin’ from the sky
In late 1999, Alicia decided to join Clive Davis and his newfound record label, J Records. Davis has supported and groomed many high-profile artists in the past, including Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and Santana. Keys saw this as an opportunity to grow and Davis, being the legendary record mogul that he is, has been relentlessly hyping the piano-playing prodigy ever since.
Recently, the 19-year-old musician’s debut album, Songs in A Minor entered the Billboard album charts at #1. The album includes the hit single “Fallin,” along with collaborations from other high-profile artists, including Jermaine Dupri and Isaac Hayes.
The near future looks to be very promising for this hot, young, musical talent. Her next single, “A Woman’s Worth” is scheduled for release very shortly. If it follows in the footsteps of her debut release, it will most likely prove to be a chart-topper. Alicia is also scheduled to perform during the 27th season premiere of Saturday Night Live, which is to be hosted by Reese Witherspoon
Her official website says she possesses an “old soul,” and the hard facts seem to back up the implied claim of wisdom and experience that transcend Alicia Keys’ youth. Barely in her twentiess, Keys is responsible for an extremely hot debut, Songs in A Minor. The release, which she wrote and produced for Clive Davis’ J Records, blends diverse influences, including R&B, hip-hop, classical, and jazz. The day the album went on the market, it sold more than 50,000 copies. Label executives confidently predicted similarly favorable numbers for the first week’s tally.
Around the time that Songs in A minor was released, Keys was popping up everywhere, including an Associated Press story. Where had she been before then? Her entire life, it seems, had been an accelerated learning experience, preparing her for a career in music. A Manhattan native, her musical gifts became apparent when she was five years old. As a choir major enrolled in Manhattan’s Professional Performance Arts School, she further developed her vocal talents with extra help from a teacher. By the time she was 16, Keys graduated and entered Columbia University. Music beckoned, however, and she quickly left Columbia behind.
Keys was writing songs when she was 14, with seven years of piano lessons under her belt by that time. In later years, she appeared on movie soundtracks, including Shaft and Men in Black. In 1998, she signed a deal with Arista Records when the company triumphed in a bidding war over other labels. When Davis left the company for J Records in 1999, Keys went along. Davis promoted the careers of such artists as Carlos Santana and Whitney Houston, and part of his launch strategy for Keys was to secure exposure on BET and MTV, as well as on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her 2001 major label debut, Songs in A Minor, went multi-platinum, and was followed in 2003 by the Grammy-winning smash, Diary of Alicia Keys. ~ Linda Seida, All Music Guide
Written by Linda Seida – source