Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American singer-songwriter. A classically-trained pianist, Keys was composing songs by age 12. She was signed at 15 years old by Columbia Records, and then, after disputes with the label, by Arista Records. Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, was released with J Records in 2001. Praised for Keys' musical talents and creative control, Songs in A Minor was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Fallin'" and selling over 12 million copies worldwide. Songs in A Minor earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002. Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles "You Don't Know My Name", "If I Ain't Got You" and "Diary", and selling eight million copies worldwide. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards. Her duet song "My Boo" with Usher became her second number-one single in 2004. Keys released her first live album, Unplugged (2005), and became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one.
—Keys—Keys"That type of studying, that type of discipline...after a while, I realized what it provided me - focus, the ability to pay attention for a long enough period of time to make progress; the work ethic; the actual knowledge of music, that then unlocked the ability to write my own music, put my own chords and things I heard in my own head to different lyrics that I maybe felt, and I never, ever had to wait for anybody to write something for me.""I remember that I felt, upon meeting her, that she was completely unique. 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. Shes a very accomplished musician, songwriter and vocalist and a rare and unique talent."Keys exemplifies versatility, making her mark in the music world as a singer/songwriter and producer, as well as an actress, author, activist, and philanthropist. [...] her impact on music and culture reaches far beyond sales tallies. The New York native's message of female empowerment and her authentic songwriting process have made her an inspiration for women and aspiring creatives worldwide."With more than music on her mind, Keys visited African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to promote care for children affected by AIDS and to help raise money and build a clinic that offered not only beds and medicine, but legal aid, microcredit and women's empowerment groups. It also provided much-needed employment opportunities to the community."Both Alicia Keys and the Indigenous rights movement of Canada have in their own ways made inspirational and meaningful contributions to advancing human rights and towards ensuring brighter possibilities for future generations. Crucially, they remind us never to underestimate how far passion and creativity can take us in fighting injustice."Cite error: A list-defined reference has a conflicting group attribute "lower-alpha" (see the help page).