Five-time Grammy-winner Alicia Keys has risen as the young fresh talent of a new generation of soul since the release of her phenomenal 2001 debut, Songs In A Minor. Filtered through her devout respect to vintage soul, modern hip-hop, R&B, blues, and jazz, this classically trained pianist has developed a fusion that leads critics to call her the new Roberta Flack with a hip-hop edge. Though barely 23, it seems that her entire life has been a nurturing experience, preparing her for a lifetime career in music. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, as Alicia Augello Cook, Keys was introduced to the piano at the age of 7, a healthy escape to the hard inner-city street life that existed right outside her door. She majored in choir at the Performing Arts School Of Manhattan while committing to piano lessons throughout her childhood and into her teens, studying Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin (her favorite composer) as well as jazz greats like Marian McPartland, Fats Waller, Miles Davis, and Oscar Peterson. She also grew up listening to the likes of Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Mary J. Blige, Biggie Smalls, Tupac, and Nina Simone. At 14, she wrote her first song, "Butterflyz," which is featured on her debut album. During this time, Keys trained and rehearsed intensely with vocal coach Conrad Robinson until age 16, when she graduated as her high school valedictorian and was accepted to attend Columbia University. Robinson introduced the young songstress to his brother Jeff, who eventually became her manager. It turned out Keys never enrolled in college, as she instead ventured forth to pursue a career in music, signing a record deal with Columbia Records. Alicia later left Columbia due to creative differences after contributing "Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)" to the label's Men In Black soundtrack, and followed Arista Records founder Clive Davis to his new imprint, J Records, where she found her home along with a handful of other artists. While Davis built up his new empire, Keys performed local shows in New York to gain exposure. Davis, who had previously promoted artists like Whitney Houston and Carlos Santana, catapulted Keys's career by securing her exposure on BET, MTV, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she gave an unforgettable performance of her future hit single, "Fallin'," with 40 million people watching before her debut album was even in stores. Songs In A Minor then debuted at number one on the charts upon its June 26, 2001 release, and continued to remain in the top 20 after 29 weeks, going platinum seven times over worldwide. The disc's first single, "Fallin'," ended the year at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Since her chart-topping success, Keys has won numerous awards, including an MTV VMA, two Billboard Awards, two American Music Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, three Soul Train Awards, two World Music Awards, one ECCHO Award, and an astounding five Grammys for Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, Best R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album, tying Lauryn Hill's record for the most Grammys won by a female artist in one year.
Keys certainly has had an overwhelming start in the music industry, but she seems undeterred by the pressure of releasing her much-awaited 2003 sophomore album, The Diary Of Alicia Keys. Keys is also currently writing and producing for other artists through her company Krucial Keys Enterprise, along with her partner Kerry "Krucial" Brothers.
Alicia Keys puts gay rumour to rest
Grammy-winner Alicia Keys believes she's finally put gay rumours to rest after adopting a more
Grammy-winner Alicia Keys believes she's finally put gay rumours to rest after adopting a more "girlie" style.
The Fallin' singer's sexuality was a constant source of speculation when she grabbed public attention in 2001, and she accepts her original style was responsible.
The 24-year-old says: "The whole gay thing was like, forever! I was like: 'Please, give me a break with the gay thing!'
"The tabloids started that rumour early on in my career. I was much less refined at that time, I guess. Not to say that I'm totally refined now, but the way I spoke was a little different and the way that I dressed. I've never been a super-girlie kind of girl, and they wanted to make up something."
Of her current style, she adds: "I guess I can be very girlie. I really notice that a lot lately. I am just evolving and not being afraid to try new things for myself… I think it's good to try things out and feel yourself in different places."
Alicia Keys makes amends with estranged dad
Alicia Keys has finally decided to patch up her relationship with her father, following years of estrangement.
Alicia Keys has finally decided to patch up her relationship with her father, following years of estrangement.
Keys grew up without her father, Craig Cook, having much of a presence in her life. And after years of distance, Keys has decided it's time to build a relationship with her dad.
She says: "The healing process between a father and a daughter is delicate and takes time. For me it is a process that is still underway, but it began because I was tired of always being upset when I thought about my father.
"I was tired of holding onto this big cloud of pain and unanswered questions inside. I was tired of holding a grudge that was only causing me to be bitter and sarcastic.
"I came to the realisation that people can't and will not always be how you want them to be, or how you expect them to be. I had to come to a place where I could begin to let go.
"That doesn't mean that you forget it. It just means you begin to let it go."
Alicia Keys in Tune with Grammys
Even if she only comes close to winning as many Grammys as she did the first time, Alicia Keys will have a great night.
In 2002, the recording industry rewarded the singer-composer with five of the honors for her debut album, "Songs in A Minor." Voters clearly like her sophomore effort; "The Diary of Alicia Keys" has eight nominations in the 47th Annual Grammy Awards. CBS will broadcast the event Sunday, Feb. 13, from Staples Center in Los Angeles. Queen Latifah will serve as host for the first time, with Keys and fellow nominees U2, Tim McGraw and Green Day slated to perform.
Kanye West leads the pack of nominees with 10 bids, and Keys is tied with Usher for eight; posthumously, Ray Charles is next with seven nominations.
"It's just incredible," Keys says. "I'm even more excited this time and incredibly grateful. The first time, it was overwhelming and I was just catching up to myself in a way. I was trying to figure out what was going on and what was coming next, because everything was so brand new to me. I'm also excited about being able to perform again this year, because that's my favorite thing to do."
Keys will do much more of that on a two-month concert tour that starts Feb. 25 in Miami. She maintains awards are just the icing on the cake for her: "As I'm creating, I'm doing it from my life as it evolves. The last thing I was thinking of was outdoing 'Songs in A Minor,' so this is pretty exciting. The thing with me is that I know that I'm going to get better, so I just look forward to my future.
"All the greats I admire -- Ray Charles, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra -- weren't at their peak until they were in their 40s. Who knows what I'll be writing about 10 years from now?"
If it matches the impact of "The Diary of Alicia Keys," the artist can anticipate another big Grammy year in another decade. Her current CD is up for album of the year and best R&B album, and Keys also is up for song of the year and best female R&B performance, both for "If I Ain't Got You." Additionally, she has two nominations each in the categories of best R&B song ("My Boo," with Usher, and "You Don't Know My Name") and best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals ("Diary," with Tony! Toni! Tone! and "My Boo").
"The Diary of Alicia Keys" is the product of some notable musical collaborations that Keys says have allowed her to "explore the different sides of myself. From performing with Stevie Wonder and Lenny Kravitz to doing a song with Usher, those are different sides of the spectrum, but I feel comfortable in them. I'm happy to challenge myself to become more than just me by myself."
A songwriter since the age of 14, Keys is a strong proponent of the notion that things happen for a reason. "I look back to different things that have happened in my life, and at the time, I wondered why they happened and if things would ever change. I would feel sad, then fast-forward five or six years, and it all made sense. It all came together the way it was meant to, and I feel that way about this time right now.
"I feel very fulfilled, although I'm the kind of person who's always looking for ways to improve myself. There's so much more, and so many ways in which I can be growing, but the way that people respond to my music is probably the biggest reason I'm so grateful this year."
As for any award wins she may soon enjoy, Keys reflects, "I don't get so caught up in the Grammy statue itself, but in what it represents, the fact that people can identify with my heart and my passion and my soul. It makes me feel very proud that I can be who I am and that people can 'get' that ... and that it makes them 'get' themselves as well."
This year's Grammy ceremony also is notable as the final one to be produced by the man who brought the show to national TV in 1971: Pierre Cossette, who relocated the ceremony to CBS after original broadcaster ABC didn't want it to originate from Nashville one year.
"I'm slowing down a little bit," Cossette says, "and this is one way to accomplish that. I'm going to produce another Broadway musical [about folk singer Woody Guthrie], and that's going to take up a lot of my time. I've got great people here who are going to be taking over for me, and this just seemed like the time to do it."
Alicia Keys Propositions Reluctant Suitors
Alicia Keys says she loves asking men out and believes her upfront pulling tactics are first-class.
The quietly-spoken singer, hailed as one of the most beautiful women in pop, says potential suitors are often too scared to ask her out, so she ends out arranging dates herself.
The 23-year-old confessed: "I have made phone calls to men I fancy and I will make the phone call again. It always works - always."
But the R'n'B beauty, who last month was reportedly romancing hip-hop star Kanye West, is less keen on being chased.
The sexy singer snubbed 50 Cent's advances after he allegedly bombarded her with phone calls begging her to go out with him.
A source said at the time: "50 Cent has been after her for absolutely ages. He's been putting in calls to her management under the pretence that they are going to record a track together. We all know it's a ruse because usually that would be sorted out by the record company.
"Alicia likes him as an artist but the date is not going to happen. She's not romantically interested in him whatsoever - he's not her type."
Alicia Keys Gets Soul Train Nominations
In a surprise to absolutely no one, R&B singer Usher led the nominees for the 19th annual Soul Train Music Awards, organizers said on Tuesday.
Usher, whose current album, "Confessions," was the biggest seller of 2004 with U.S. sales of almost eight million copies, will compete in five categories.
Crunk newcomer Ciara and Beyonce Knowles landed four nominations each, though two of Knowles' nods were with her trio, Destiny's Child. Alicia Keys had three nominations. The awards will be taped on the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood on Feb. 28, and will air in syndication on March 12.
Usher and Keys already have eight nominations each at the Grammy Awards, which take place on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, second only to Kanye West with 10 mentions.
Last November, Usher was the top winner at the American Music Awards, scoring in all four categories in which he was nominated.
His Soul Train nominations include best R&B soul single and album (male), music video and dance cut. Additionally, his duet with Keys, "My Boo," was named in the R&B/soul single (group, band, duo) race, where its rivals include Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath" and the Knowles/Luther Vandross duet "The Closer I Get To You."
Destiny's Child was also nominated for R&B/album (group, band, duo), and Knowles for R&B/soul single (female), a category also including Ciara and Keys. These two will also compete against each other for R&B/soul album (female). Ciara's other two nods were for best new artist and dance cut.
Crying Keys Writes Songs At Night
Soul beauty Alicia Keys finds the inspiration to write songs when she wakes up in the middle of the night in floods of tears.
The Fallin' star pens most of her songs when she awakes crying, and thinks the reason for her strange timing is down to her fascination with the morbid side of life.
Keys says, "Sometimes I wake up and go to my piano and write a whole song. Sometimes I am crying, but most of the time it is just speaking what I am feeling so that I am not feeling it any more."
"As a songwriter I tend to be drawn to the negative sides of love, towards the complicated sides of love, the sides that are confusing or painful or misunderstood."
Alicia Spends Birthday Bowling
Alicia Keys celebrated her 24th birthday by bowling in the dark on Tuesday night. The singer and friends took over a New York bowling alley and turned off all the lights so they could enjoy a session of night-bowling.
Keys says, "Am I the corniest person on the planet, or what? They turn off all the lights and the pins glow in the dark and the balls all glow in the dark."
"They turned the music up and I just had all my friends and we had a good time and I suck. I'm the worst bowler on the planet."
On January 26th Mtv bosses celebrated Keys' birthday when they presented her with a birthday cake with her image on it during an appearance on Total Request Live.
Alicia Keys And Tim McGraw To Play Grammy Awards
Alicia Keys and Tim McGraw are among the first performers announced for the 47th Annual Grammy Awards set to broadcast live February 13 on CBS. Also performing at the ceremony will be U2 and Green Day, with additional artists expected to be announced soon. Presenters for the Queen Latifah-hosted event will include Ellen DeGeneres, pop star Christina Milian and John Travolta.
Keys has snagged eight nominations, including Album of the Year and Best R&B Album for the Diary Of Alicia Keys.
McGraw is nominated for two awards -- Best Country Album for Live Like You Were Dying and Best Male Country Vocal Performance for the set's title track.
U2 is up for three Grammys this year -- Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Rock Song and Best Short Form Music Video for "Vertigo.
Alicia Keys Will Sing at Super Bowl
Alicia Keys will sing "America the Beautiful" prior to this year's Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
It will be just the third time the song is sung at the Super Bowl — previously performed only by Vicki Carr and Ray Charles.
Accompanying Keys will be 150 students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind,
which Charles attended as a youth in 1937.
"I'm very excited to be playing at the Super Bowl for the first time especially because I will be singing a song made famous by an artist I admire, miss and respect, Ray Charles, along with the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind," said Keys in a statement released Thursday. "I know that this is going to be a very touching and memorable moment."
The game's halftime show will feature a performance by Paul McCartney .
Last year's mid-game celebration with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake produced widespread controversy after Jackson's breast was exposed.
This year's game, Super Bowl XXXIX, takes place Feb. 6 at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville.
Earlier this week, Keys, 23, announced a tour of 34 U.S. cities that will kick off in South Carolina on Feb. 25. The R&B singer and piano player is currently nominated for eight Grammys.
Alicia Keys Announces 34-city ''Diary Tour''
Alicia Keys, always an open book, will hit the road in a newly announced "Diary Tour" of 34 U.S. cities. Keys will perform at "intimate venues" to play hits from her Grammy-nominated sophomore album, "The Diary of Alicia Keys."
Keys will kick off her theater tour in Miami on Feb. 25. The tour will end in New Jersey on April 23.
"This tour is going to be completely different completely classy, edgy and fun," Keys told The Associated Press Monday. "Having a setting of maybe 4,000 makes it so much more special and intimate."
Keys will be among the performers at the Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles on Feb. 13. She'll play "If I Ain't Got You," which is nominated for song of the year.
Keys is nominated for eight Grammys this year. Her 2001 debut album, "Songs in A Minor," won the R&B singer five Grammys, but the 23-year-old says she's not feeling any pressure for a repeat performance.
"I just like to go with the flow and let God handle the rest," she said.
Keys, who released a book of poetry, "Tears of Water," in November, may sprinkle in some readings on the tour. But those who hope to hear her hit single with Usher, "My Boo," will likely hear Keys' verse sung as part of another song.
The piano-playing soulstress has some surprises planned for the tour.
"It's going to be like a minimovie when it's all done," she said.
One far less intimate venue will be a performance at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville on Feb 6. Keys will play during the pre-game show.
But regardless of the size of the venue, Keys says "performing live is my thing."
Stops on her tour will include Los Angeles (March 16-17), Atlanta (April 6-7) and Radio City Music Hall in New York (April 22-23).
Alicia Keyes 'romancing hip-hop's Kanye West'
Alicia Keyes is reportedly romancing hip-hop star Kanye West.
The R'n'B beauty and West, who recently scooped three prizes at this year's Billboard Awards, were spotted canoodling at a New York party and sources claim they disappeared with each other for at least half an hour.
Alicia Keyes 'romancing hip-hop's Kanye West'
Earlier this year, it was reported Alicia was dating Usher.
Sources claimed she and Usher had been hanging out with each other while rehearsing for their duet, 'My Boo', in New York and insiders revealed they had become besotted with each other.
One said at the time: "They've become really close." Alicia also recently snubbed 50 Cent's advances.
The rap star reportedly bombarded the sexy singer with phone calls begging her to go out with him, but Alicia turned him down.
A source said at the time: "50 Cent has been after her for absolutely ages. He's been putting in calls to her management under the pretence that they are going to record a track together.
We all know it's a ruse because usually that would be sorted out by the record company.
"Alicia likes him as an artist but the date is not going to happen.
She's not romantically interested in him whatsoever - he's not her type."
Usher had a crush on Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is on a roll! At 23, the native New Yorker just took home the American Music Award for best soul-R&B female artist on Nov. 14 and has also released a book of songs and poems called Tears for Water.
Q:Your poem "Love In Chains" is about a woman afraid to fall in love. Are you?
A: Nobody wants to be completely vulnerable. I'm cautious about being hurt, but I'm not hesitant about falling in love.
Q:We hear you have a mystery boyfriend!
A: We've been dating for like five years. I never talk about him, but he's very special!
Q:Do the rumors about your being a lesbian bother you?
A: I really don't care because it's not true. I don't sweat it.
Q:You've been pals with Usher since you were 15. Now he's a sex symbol!
A: I kind of think he's been going in that direction for a while. He's always had a presence -- definitely.
Q:Did you ever have the hots for him?
A: Nah. But he's definitely had a crush on me. You could just tell!
Alicia Keys and Beyonce are the only women on the Top 10 Pop Artists Chart
Everywhere you look, the men dominate the 2004 year-end artist recaps. Everywhere except one place -- the year-end Hot Dance Club Play chart.
Among the top 10 acts on the year-end Top Pop Artists tally, only two are women: Alicia Keys and Beyonce. The same two are the only females among the top 10 R&B/hip-hop artists of the year. The only two women among the top 10 country artists are Gretchen Wilson and Shania Twain. Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow are the only two women in the top 10 among the adult top 40 artists. Etta James and Susan Tedeschi are the two females among the top 10 blues artists.
Then there's that Club Play recap, where the top six all come from the distaff side. Madonna is No. 1 after relinquishing the title last year to Justin Timberlake. She's followed by Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Annie Lennox, Britney Spears and McLachlan.
Madonna and Spears are the top two artists on the Hot Dance Singles Sales recap. Together, they have the No. 1 song of the year, "Me Against the Music," followed by Madonna's "Nothing Fails"/"Nobody Knows Me" at No. 2 and "Love Profusion" at No. 3.
Alicia Keys nominated for People's Choice Hip Hop Fashion Awards
Urb1.com is back to relaunch official ‘2004 URB1 Hip Hop Fashion PC (People's Choice) Awards’ at the end of the year along with many reviews for Hip Hop and other music categories in general.
Rod Rainey, the owner of Urb1, said, "After suspending the online voting ceremony which received around 3,000 votes in it's first year (2002), I feel it's a great opportunity this year to restart the fashion vote.”
“The next step is finding how I can get the celebrities to accept awards and hopefully run this in conjunction with my physical fashion event, the Urb1 Hip Hop Fashion Show, held in Greenville, SC.," said Rainey.
The 2004 URB1 Hip Hop Fashion PC Awards categories include: Best Dressed Male Artist, Best Dressed Female Artist, Best Dressed Group, Most Unique Style, Best fashion styling in a Hip Hop Video, Best Dressed Professional Male Athlete, Best Dressed Professional Female Athlete, Most Influential Hip Hop Fashion Trend Setter, Best Composer of Hip Hop fashion related Lyrics, Best Major Male Hip Hop Fashion Line, Best Major Female Hip Hop Fashion Line, Best Male Underground Clothing Line, Best Female Underground Clothing Line, Most Unique Clothing Designer, Best Online Hip Hop Fashion Retailer, Best Physical Store Chain, Worst Dressed Male Artist, Worst Dressed Female Artist and Worst Hip Hop Video Styling Job.
Over 150 celebrities and clothing brands were voted for by the Urb1.com visitors and fashion forum users. Of those, only the top 5 selections for each category were selected as official nominees. Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, KanYe West, Beyonce Knowles, Camron, P. Diddy, Usher, and Missy Elliot are few names from the list of Hip Hop celebrities nominated in the different Hip Hop fashion categories.
Major clothing brands such as Akademiks, Marithé et François Girbaud, Baby Phat, Rocawear, Sean John, Apple Bottoms, and L-R-G, were among some of the clothing lines the public selected as nominees for the fashion awards.
Urb1.com, the Original Hip Hop Fashion Focused website intends to launch the Online Fashion voting ceremony on Christmas Day, December 25th, after announcing the winner of their 2nd Annual Urb1.com Hip Hop fashion Wardrobe giveaway.
Alicia Keys performed at the Y-100 Jingle Ball
With its range of performers and its young, excitable audience, the Y-100.7 Jingle Ball on Sunday night in Sunrise could have passed for a high school talent show.
The venue and the production budget were bigger, of course: The Top 40 station put the cream of its current playlist in front of 15,000 people at the Office Depot Center. But the brisk, varietal nature of the program and the relentless home-team cheerleading -- for all of us local listeners -- gave the Jingle Ball that school-spirit feel. This was accentuated by teen-pop darling Hilary Duff, whose whole act is an oversized version of the auditorium talent show.
Also performing were soul singer Alicia Keys, hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, singer-songwriter John Mayer and pop band Maroon 5. These four made up the evening's Grammy contingent: All have either won recently or are up for awards this year, and all played their best -- or best-liked -- songs in quick sets lasting three to five songs. The Caribbean delegation consisted of soca singer Kevin Lyttle, from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and singer-rapper Rupee, from Barbados. That left rock band Switchfoot, pop singer Ryan Cabrera and Latin pop crooner Frankie J to fill out the card.
Keys closed out the show, and for someone so talented and acclaimed, she still looked to be working through identity issues. Does she want to be the next Roberta Flack, sitting at the piano, the next Liza Minnelli, waving a hat and cane, or the next Janet Jackson, borrowing hard-rock and hip-hop tropes? But when Keys stopped posing and just sang, especially her riveting classic-soul ballads You Don't Know My Name and If I Ain't Got You, Christmas really did arrive early.
''Life with Regis and Alicia'' ?
Alicia Keys will join Regis Philbin as guest host Dec. 22 on "Live With Regis and Kelly" while the daytime talk show's co-host, Kelly Ripa, is on vacation.
On Tuesday, Keys was nominated for eight Grammy Awards, including album of the year for "The Diary of Alicia Keys." Her 2001 debut album, "Songs in A Minor," won the R&B singer five Grammys. Keys, 23, recently published "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics."
Alicia Keys wins seven awards at Billboard Music Awards
It was all about R&B and hip-hop at Wednesday night's Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. Usher was the big winner with 11 awards, followed by Alicia Keys with seven, Outkast with five and Kanye West with four.
Usher, who opened the show at the MGM Grand by dropping down from the ceiling for a glitzy performance of ''Bad Girls'', was named Artist of the Year and Billboard 200 Artist of the Year, and also took home awards for Billboard 200 R&B/ Hip-Hop Album of the Year and Hot 100 Single of the Year for his song "Yeah!"
Keys, who performed "Karma" with a pair of violinists, two bucket percussionists and a troupe of break-dancers, won Female Artist of the Year, R&B/ Hip-Hop Single of the Year ("If I Ain't Got You") and Hot 100 Songwriter of the Year.
The show also featured the first-ever Ringtone of the Year award, which went to 50 Cent's ubiquitous rap track "In Da Club." Maroon 5 were named Digital Artist of the Year and Outkast won Digital Track of the Year for "Hey Ya!"
On the same day he was nominated for 10 Grammys (see "Kanye Scores 10 Grammy Nominations; Usher And Alicia Keys Land Eight"), Kanye West won Male New Artist of the Year, new R&B/ Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Producer of the Year and Rap Artist of the Year.
Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz took home a pair of awards for Independent Artist and Album of the Year for Kings of Crunk.
The show featured a number of bizarre moments, not the least of which occurred when actress Tara Reid tripped onto the stage to face nearly 30 seconds of agonizing downtime while the TelePrompTer apparently malfunctioned. Reid introduced the reunited Mötley Crüe (see "Original Lineup Of Motley Crue Reuniting For World Tour"), whose singer, Vince Neil, stammered a few times and then admitted he could not see the Prompter without reading glasses. And when Ashlee Simpson collected Female New Artist of the Year to a small chorus of boos, the singer responded by doing a dance step and joking that if artists ever get nervous, they can do the "Texas jig" she did after her infamous "Saturday Night Live" lip-synching incident (see "Ashlee Identifying With 'Wannabe' Character, Says She's Over 'SNL' Episode").
Britney Spears, making her first public appearance since marrying dancer Kevin Federline, took the stage in a body-hugging sheer dress to present the first award of the night, Rap Artist of the Year, which went to Kanye. Spears won the Hot Dance Single of the Year for "Me Against the Music."
Destiny's Child were given an Artist Achievement Award, and an all-star cast that included DC, Mary J. Blige and Diana Ross closed the show with a musical tribute to Century Award winner Stevie Wonder. As the band vamped on one of his songs, Wonder took the stage and spontaneously burst into a vocal performance of his 1973 hit "Higher Ground."
The Billboard Awards are based on record sales and airplay tabulated by the magazine between December 2003 and November 2004.
Alicia's key is that she sings with her heart in it
If today’s music scene is something of a blur for you, then singer-songwriter Alicia Keys is just the person to bring it back into focus. What you see is exactly what you get with this talented 23-year-old performer. Keys writes her own songs, plays piano and keyboards exceptionally well, and can sing with the absolute best of them.
She only has two albums out, but they’ve sold more than 16 million copies. She’s already won five Grammy Awards, and odds are she’ll be in the running for more this year. Is the best time of her life when she's on stage?
"It's definitely one of the greatest experiences I've ever, ever had," says Keys, who burst onto the music world in 2001 with her debut album, "Songs in A Minor." That year, she won five Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Best Song for the hit "Fallin'".
The song caught the attention of everyone, including Stevie Wonder. "What made it great was it was saying a very simple message," says Wonder. "You can't stop wanting to hear that message. The whole thing of falling in love – the longing for, the wanting to be. I felt it was going to be song of the year, but worried that it was too simple. But everyone got it."
This past August, Wonder, Keys and guitarist Lenny Kravitz played together at the Video Music Awards on MTV. "Before I met her, I felt that what I was hearing in her voice, was in her heart," says Wonder. "That's important. You can sing well. You can play well, but the key is that you can feel her heart in it." "I’m very into what I do," says Keys. "And many times as a performer, when I’m playing, I hear, this sounds strange, but I’m gonna tell ya, I hear voices in my head. I hear my own voice in my head sometimes."
Keys' father is black and her mother, Terry, is white. Terry raised her daughter alone in a tough New York City neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen. And she made sure music was always a part of her life. Keys started lessons at 7. "I think I had talent," says Keys. "It was more my desire. I wanted to play. I said, 'Go, girl, go.'"
Growing up, Keys was trained in classical music and was already writing pop songs when Columbia Records signed her to a contract at 16. That same year, Keys graduated from a performing arts high school, and was awarded a scholarship at Columbia University. It was there, she changed her last name from Cook to Keys.
"We were searching for a good description. A description of who I am and what I do. And we came up with a whole bunch of really bad names. Really bad," recalls Keys. "The worst was, this is bad. This is horrible: Alicia Wild. I mean, that sounds like a stripper." Keys dropped out of college to focus on music, but she soon felt Columbia Records wasn’t giving her the artistic freedom she needed.
"I wanted to be like a Marvin Gaye. I wanted to be like Prince. I wanted to be like Roberta Flack," says Keys. "After they completely trampled on me, and just stepped on me and rubbed their dirty feet on me, like 'You suck,' I said, 'Well, fine then. Then we're not on the same page and I don't suck. You suck. And I'm gonna go somewhere where somebody likes me.'"
Her next stop was a meeting with music producer Clive Davis. Davis bought out her contract with Columbia and immediately signed the 18-year-old singer. In June 2001, they released "Songs in A Minor." Her second album, "The Diary of Alicia Keys" was released in 2003.
One element of Keys’ success is her work ethic. She has toured internationally almost non-stop this year, playing 40 shows in 22 countries. 60 Minutes caught up with her in Lisbon, Portugal. That night, Keys opened for Sting, and they met before she went on stage. It was one of the largest crowds she has ever played for – more than 100,000 people – at the Rockin' Rio music festival. This fall, Keys has a book coming out of her poetry and song lyrics.
Alicia Keys is a sponsor for HIV positive children and women in Africa
R and B singer Alicia Keys is urging fellow American celebrities to follow in her footsteps and sponsor HIV positive children in Africa.
The multi award-winning artist, who sponsors two children and two women through the charity organisation 'Keep a Child Alive,' says that she is very happy with the progress that these AIDS patients have made and she wants others to know how simple it is to make a difference"I also sponsor two mothers, Anne and Veronica. Before 'Keep A Child Alive' came to the clinic, no one had access to treatment. I've seen pictures of the four people I'm sponsoring before and after their treatment- and, at first, they looked emaciated and beaten down. Today they are happy and healthy and living positive, hopeful lives," Female First quoted her as saying.
"It blows me away, because it was so easy to do something so incredibly important. Now I'm trying to involve as many people as possible in combating this pandemic. I've written to celebrities like Halle Berry and Cher, who are looking to sponsor five mothers and their child," she added.
Alicia Keys will perform at the 2005 Barbados Jazz Festival
A dazzling international line-up of acclaimed jazz artists and performers is set to make the 12th annual Barbados Jazz Festival the best ever and a must for jazz lovers to visit Barbados in
January 2005. The festival will run from January 10 until January 16 for seven days and
hot summer nights at six key venues: Sunbury Plantation House, Farley Hill National Park, the Rum Factory at Heritage Park, the Sherbourne Conference Centre, The Colony Club Hotel and the Garfield Sobers Auditorium. Artists include: Alicia Keys, Kenny Garret, Ellis Marsalis, Yellow
Jackets, Gata Barbieri, Keiko Matsui, Pieces of a Dream, Jason Moran, Janelle Headley, Tamara Marshall, The Charles Flores Quintet, Tito De Gracia and Adrian Clarke.
Alicia Keys new book ''Tears for Water''
Alicia Keys has established herself as one of the hottest musical artists around. She has sold more than 14 million CDs and earned a shelf full of Grammy awards. Her music combines her classical training with an old-school sensibility and today's mix of hip-hop and R&B. Now, she's adding "author" to her growing list of accomplishments. Her new book, "Tears for Water," is a combination of poems and lyrics inspired by her life experiences. The 23-year-old tells The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen that the title of her book comes from one of her poems, "Love and Chains," that has a line: "I don't mind drinking my tears for water." Keys says, "And when I read that, it resonated in me because I said, 'Wow, I realized at that moment that all of the songs I write, all of the poetry that I write, every way that I express myself comes from some form of my tears, my pain, my happiness, my joy, my frustration, my confusion.' And I drink them for water to be nourished and to survive, in a way." She says she battles with low self-esteem. "There's plenty of times I've written a song just to encourage myself and say, 'You're worth it, and you're incredible, and you're a woman, and you deserve it,' you know?"
Alicia Keys is helping to spread the holiday cheer. She's playing a number of radio festival shows this December including Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM's 2004 Jingle Ball. Joining Keys for the festivities are Avril Lavigne, Ashlee Simpson, Snoop Dogg, Christina Milian and JoJo. Maroon 5 will join in the merry-making with an acoustic performance. The station also says the lineup will include a special, "unannounced" guest.
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