Refined singer of growing success Alicia Keys was born on January 25, 1981, in Hell’s Kitchen, southern Manhattan. Her exceptional beauty is easily explained when you know her family origins, the breed mix from which she originated: her mother Terry Augello is of Italian origin and her father Craig Cook is African American. Her early talent for music and desire to perform brought her to the stages at a very young age, at an almost Mozartian age. She is still a child when she auditioned for the part of Dorothy in a children’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” but in the meantime, she doesn’t neglect studying piano at the prestigious Professional Performance Arts School in Manhattan. A good method also to keep off the street, a not too tranquilizing environment, especially in Hell’s Kitchen. At home, where she lives with her mother, Alicia grows up listening to soul music, jazz and the newest genre, hip-hop. At the age of fourteen, she wrote her first song, “Butterfly” which will be chosen as one of the tracks for her debut album; at sixteen, despite the opportunities to perform in front of an audience, she graduated with top marks. Waiting for her is Columbia University, one of the most prestigious universities in America.
Ironically, the singing teacher introduces her to her brother Jeff Robinson who, shortly before the start of university courses, gets her a contract with the glorious “Columbia Records”. But something’s not working. Alicia lacks the time to devote to her university studies and the artistic differences with the record label convince her to quit, convinced as she is that she still has to find her way, experiment with the possibilities of which she is capable.
While she turns nineteen, Clive Davis, dean of the music business of Serie A, historical boss of Arista and the man behind the successes of the likes of Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, gives up his chair to the former partner of Babyface – Mr.Antonio ‘L.A.’. Reid – and founds J Records, a brand new stable. In this project ambitious there’s room for Alicia too. “Fallin'” is her debut track: it comes out almost muted but since it’s the most representative track of her style, the enterprising Davis gives her visibility by convincing Oprah Winfrey, famous US presenter, to host the girl in her TV show. In front of the television screen to follow the episodes of Miss Winfrey every night, there is something like forty million viewers. The move proves to be a good one. In the aftermath of the episode presenting Alicia Keys, the audience seems to pour into the shops to buy her first album “Song in A minor”. In short, there will be seven million copies sold, the harbinger of countless covers on the music tabloids, a permanent presence on the charts, radio passages: a catchphrase.
Everything Alicia touches turns to gold. The world tour, the appearance at the Sanremo Festival, the song “Gangsta Lovin'” sung alongside the rapper Eve, the poignant ballad “Impossible” written and produced for her friend Christina Aguilera and the suggestive video clips. With his music he has been able to impose a very personal style, a synthesis of the black experience of the last thirty years, also thanks to the piano, common denominator of the “Alicia Keys formula”. Now it is rumored that she is about to approach jazz or even classical music. Maybe there are some beggars to be done, with some popular Bocelli or Pavarotti formulas. Never as in this case is the formula “who will live…hear” worthwhile.
2001 – Songs in A Minor
2003 – The Diary of Alicia Keys
2007 – As I Am
2009 – The Element of Freedom
2012 – Girl on Fire
2016 – Here
2020 – Alicia