Alicia Keys: Snapshot

Alicia Keys
Date of Birth
January 25, 1980
Birth Place
New York, N.Y.
With 2001's Songs in A Minor, Alicia Keys convinced an entire generation hooked on Britney, boy bands and backup dancers that the simplicity of a woman and her piano can have pop appeal. Her blend of R&B, hip hop and classical music has sold more than 20 million albums and earned Keys nine Grammy Awards.

Keys grew up in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen where her single mother pushed her into the arts, and at 16, she left Columbia University to embark on her music professionally – blossoming under music mogul Clive Davis's J Records label.

Keys, who parlayed her fame into philanthropic work as an ambassador for HIV/AIDS organization Keep a Child Alive, welcomed her first child, son Egypt Daoud Dean, in October 2010 with music producer hubby Swizz Beatz, and their second, son Genesis Ali Dean, in December 2014.

Alicia Keys:From the PEOPLE TV Archive

Alicia Keys: Five Fun Facts

  1. Alicia Keys adopted her signature braids at 13, when she discovered that it got her through humid Manhattan summers.
  2. Alicia Keys has a knack for featuring rappers as her love interests in her music videos: she featured Common ("Like You'll Never See Me Again"); Method Man ("If I Ain't Got You"); and Mos Def ("You Don't Know My Name").
  3. "I'm happy that I'm not super skinny," Alicia Keys told Ebony in 2004. "Sometimes I've gotten photographs back and people have literally shaven off pieces of me, and I tell them to put it back. I'm not ashamed of what I am and that I have curves and that I'm thick."
  4. While on the road, Alicia Keys carries "a cute pink bunny. It reminds me that not everything is so serious," she told In Style.
  5. Bob Dylan mentions Alicia Keys in his song "Thunder on the Mountain." Keys heard the news from John Mayer, but didn't believe him until he showed up with the track: I was thinking about Alicia Keys/Couldn't keep from crying/When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line/I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be?

Alicia Keys: Biography


Alicia Keys

A Prodigy's Start

As a preschooler, Alicia Keys is singled out for her musical ability. "Her teacher, who was very much into the arts, had Alicia singing a song from Cats – at barely 4 years old," her mother Terri Augello, a professional actress, tells Ebony in 2007. Augello gets her daughter a gig on The Cosby Show (left) in March 1985 when she is 5, and enrolls her in gymnastics, piano, and ballet. "Being a single parent raising her in the city, I tried to give her every opportunity, just so she could find out what her muse was," Augello adds.

mid 1990s

Alicia Keys

Alicia's Believers

Keys, 14, meets Jeff Robinson at a Harlem PAL (Police Activities League), and he becomes her trusted friend and manager. At 16, Keys attends Columbia University, but leaves her studies for a record deal with Columbia Records. She encounters creative differences with the label, and Clive Davis, then head of Arista, buys out the 17-year-old's contract, and she follows him to his new label, J Records (from left, Robinson, Keys' mother Terri, Keys and Davis).


Alicia Keys


Fallin' into Songs in A Minor

With producer Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Keys find her sound and releases the piano-driven ballad "Fallin'," off her debut album Songs in A Minor. Rolling Stone says the album "unleashes neosoul's newest princess, a black woman impacted equally by hip-hop, soul, Prince and classical."

Read More on Alicia Keys' Life

Photo Credits

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Lester Cohen/WireImage;

Edited by Julia Wang

Alicia Keys

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs