Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys Artistfacts

  • January 25, 1981
  • She graduated as valedictorian from the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City when she was 16.
  • Columbia Records signed her out of high school, but refused to release the songs she wrote. Four years later, industry legend Clive Davis, who had signed Santana, Whitney Houston and Janis Joplin, signed her to his J Records and released her first album, Songs In A Minor, which went to #1.
  • Many people found out about her when she made appearances on Oprah and Jay Leno's shows in 2001. Clive Davis wrote a personal letter to Oprah which helped get her on.
  • Her mother is Italian and her father is black. They grew up in a poor section of New York City.
  • Keys learned classical piano through rigorous training using the Suzuki Method. She wanted to quit when she was 11, but her mom wouldn't let her.

    "I was at the piano while everybody was outside playing," she told NPR. "It unlocked the ability to be able to write my own music and put my own chords and things I heard in my own head to different lyrics that I felt. And I never, ever had to wait for anybody to write something for me."
  • She writes and produces all her songs - something that makes her very marketable.
  • Her music combines elements of R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and classical music. All of these styles influenced her when she was growing up.
  • Her birth name is Alicia Augello-Cook. Her mother is Italian and Irish, her father is African-American. Alicia Keys explanation on why she chose her stage name: "It's like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors."
  • Keys was featured in a 2006 episode of The Backyardigans, a popular children's animated show. She voiced a singing green alien from Mars who sits, and does many other things, on her "Boinga." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Carrie - Burlington, CT
  • In 2004, she released a book of poems and song lyrics called Tears For Water. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Alicia Keys married record producer, DJ, rapper and painter Swizz Beatz (real name Kasseem Daoud Dean) on July 31, 2010. Their son is Keys' first and Beatz' fourth child (he has 3 children from previous marriage with R&B singer Mashonda Tifrere).
  • Keys has used the same method for years to keep her voice immaculate. "You melt a handful of gummy bears in hot water and something about the glycerin really clears your voice," she explained to Extra. "And it was amazing, my vocal coach told me it's like an ancient secret. Now I can eat gummy bears anytime I want!"
  • Keys made her television debut at the age of four, guesting on the Cosby Show in a cameo role as a sleepover friend of daughter Rudy Huxtable.
  • Alicia Keys' first professional recording was a song titled "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)." It appeared on the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black, along with a track by another then unknown R&B act called Destiny's Child.
  • Keys started songwriting at the age of 7 after friends of her mom gave away to them their 1930s upright piano. "When I was first learning songs, I'd have a favorite song and I'd take the chords and twist them around," Keys recalled to The Observer. "I'd learn the chords and then play them backwards. That was my first experimenting with writing a song."
  • Her first album was called Songs In A minor because Keys likes playing piano in minor key and her first name starts with A.
  • In her first movie role, she played a lesbian assassin in the 2006 film Smokin' Aces. She took the role because it defied expectations.
  • Alicia Keys played June Boatwright in the 2008 movie The Secret Life of Bees. Keys had to learn to play the cello in just four weeks for her role, which earned her a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards.
  • She stopped wearing makeup in 2016, championing the #nomakeup movement on Twitter. Her first public appearance without makeup was at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, where she was a presenter. She tweeted the next day, "Me choosing to be makeup free doesn't mean I'm anti-makeup. Do you!"

    Keys later said, "Whatever feels empowering is what a woman should do, and that's the most important message."
  • Alicia Keys told Fact Magazine in 2016 that she is raising her kids in the same New York city neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen where she grew up, and they are taking piano lessons at the same school where she learned to play. "It's kind of crazy every time I walk in," she said. "On one hand it's a community and I feel very protected. On the other, I feel like I'm trapped in the Twilight Zone, all those memories."
  • She and Beatz welcomed another son, Genesis Ali Dean, in 2014.
  • She appeared on the TV drama Empire for two episodes in 2015, playing a pop singer named Skye Summers.

Comments: 10

  • Are You from CaliforniaShe is an amazing singer and such a amazing role model!! She is so powerful on her songs and loves to always spread a message.
  • Laura from Las Vegas, NvAlicia Keys is a really good singer and I think she's the best.
  • Meme from Gallatin, TnHey Alicia i would just like to say that i really love your hair and ur music. Keep on doing what u do.
  • Ce-ce from Fayetteville, Ari love alicia keys is so pretty and she can sang not sing sang and she kills it on da piano and it is so easy to understand what she talks about in her songs she talks about things that gose on in life and u can relate to it. *ce-ce* dallas,tx
  • Francine from Glendale, AzI love the way Alicia Keys sings and play the piano!
  • Katie from Lansing, MiI really like her songs. My dad likes the way she sings also. She's another one of my favorite singers. She can play the piano really good, way better than anyone I know. She can play and sing really good together. Usually people can't play and sing. She's just talented. I can play at least two or three songs on the piano, they're really easy.
  • Mellissa from Wasaga Beach, CanadaShes a bit too made up now, and her performances lack the early enthusiasm
  • Veronica from Illionis, United StatesI like Alicia keys because her words people can relate to like life. and her words are very inspirring. I dont know because my lil sis is to suppose to inspire me, but is really enjoying you.Everybody wants to be like you. so keep going for it.

  • Thomas from Graz, AustriaAlicia Keys is one of the cutest women i have seen.She embodies talent,beauty,intelligence and I hope that she will stay forever in the musicbusiness.Alicia needs the music and the music needs her.Im also a musician and i hope that i will meet her in the next time to make music with her or whatever!I love you baby!!Keep on beeing yourself.Thomas Zechner
  • A.d. from Houston, TxI like Alicia Keys because her words are so strong and every lyric that she sings means alot to people because they make alot of sense and people can relate to what she says.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Guy Clark

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde of The PretendersSongwriter Interviews

The rock revolutionist on songwriting, quitting smoking, and what she thinks of Rush Limbaugh using her song.

Timothy B. Schmit

Timothy B. SchmitSongwriter Interviews

The longtime Eagle talks about soaring back to his solo career, and what he learned about songwriting in the group.

David Gray

David GraySongwriter Interviews

David Gray explains the significance of the word "Babylon," and talks about how songs are a form of active imagination, with lyrics that reveal what's inside us.

Laura Nyro

Laura NyroSongwriting Legends

Laura Nyro talks about her complex, emotionally rich songwriting and how she supports women's culture through her art.

Thomas Dolby

Thomas DolbySongwriter Interviews

He wrote "She Blinded Me With Science" so he could direct a video about a home for deranged scientists.