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Fri, 01.25.1980

Alicia Keys, Musician, Lyricist, and Singer born

Alicia Keys

*Alicia Keys was born on this date in 1980. She is a Black singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actress, music video director, philanthropist, and author.

Born Alicia J. Augello-Cook in Harlem, New York, She is the daughter of Teresa Augello, a paralegal and part-time actress, and Craig Cook, a flight attendant. Keys' mother is white-Irish, Scottish, and Italian descent, and her father is Jamaican. Keys' parents separated when she was a child, and her mother raised her.  In 1985, Keys and a group of other girls played the parts of Rudy Huxtable's sleepover guests in an episode of The Cosby Show called "Slumber Party." She began playing the piano when she was seven, learning classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and her favorite, Chopin.  Keys graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan as valedictorian at sixteen in only three years.

Although accepted to Columbia University, she decided to drop out and pursue her musical career.  Keys signed a demo deal with Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def label. She co-wrote and recorded a song entitled "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)," which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1997 film Men in Black. The song was her first professional recording. Keys later met Clive Davis, who signed her to record the songs "Rock wit U" and "Rear View Mirror," featured on the soundtracks to the films Shaft (2000) and Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001). Keys then released her debut album, Songs in A Minor, followed by The Diary of Alicia Keys in 2003. In 2005, Keys performed and taped her installment of the MTV Unplugged series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. During this live session, Keys added brand-new arrangements to her original songs, such as "A Woman's Worth" and "Heartburn."

In 2007, Her As I Am album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 742,000 copies. Keys played 1940s black piano child prodigy Philippa Schuyler in a film entitled Composition in Black and White.  Then she will play the title role in a film about the life of Lena Horne.  She is a spokeswoman for Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organization. Keys and U2 lead singer Bono recorded a cover version of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's "Don't Give Up" in recognition of World AIDS Day 2006. Keys and Bono's version of the song was retitled "Don't Give Up (Africa)" to show the two musicians' support for helping to raise awareness of people living with HIV and AIDS and acknowledging the twenty-five million Africans (forty million people worldwide) living with the disease.

She has visited African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa to promote care for children affected by AIDS. Keys, the global ambassador and co-founder of Keep a Child Alive. She is also a spokeswoman for From the Ground Up, a charity devoted to inspiring, encouraging, and motivating American youths to achieve success on all levels. Keys also participated in other humanitarian efforts in 2005 by performing at several exclusive concerts and television shows. Keys performed at Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, another Hurricane Katrina benefit concert. Keys is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and participated in the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, in 2007.

Keys had a low-profile relationship with her long-time friend and collaborator Kerry Brothers Jr. until 2008.  She dated hip-hop artist-producer Swizz Beatz. They have known each other since they were teenagers.  They announced they were engaged and expecting their first child in May 2010.  They held a Zulu ceremony to bless their unborn child in the Illovo suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.  They were married on July 31, 2010, in a private ceremony near the Mediterranean Sea.  Keys gave birth to their son Egypt Daoud Dean in October 2010.  She gave birth to their second son, Genesis Ali Dean, in December 2014.

Keys has sold over forty-one million albums and singles worldwide as of 2007 and has won numerous awards, including nine Grammy Awards, eleven Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards.  She performed during halftime of the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans.

In 2016, Keys participated in a video on taking action against systemic racism in the United States titled "23 Ways You Could Be Killed if You are Black in America"  In 2017, she participated in the "Women's March in Washington."

Keys and Dean are co-chairs of the Gordon Parks Foundation, which permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks. The couple acquired what is now the largest private holding of Gordon Parks's images, part of the Dean Collection, the couple's philanthropic organization, and a family collection of international contemporary art.  In the summer of 2018, Keys and Dean were featured on the cover of Cultured Magazine, where they delved into Gordon Parks's works and The Dean Collection.

To Become a Musician or Singer


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