Alicia Keys (real name Alicia Augello Cook) was born on January, 25 in 1980 in the New York City block of Harlem. Her mother, an actress of Irish-Italian descent, and Jamaican father divorced when Alicia was a small girl. She was grown up by mother in the other part of Manhattan, called Hell's Kitchen. Alicia's musical gift became obvious when she was about five, at seven she started playing the piano, opening for herself such classical composers as Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, who became her favorite. At 16 she already graduated from the prestigious musical facility of the Professional Performing Arts School and immediately entered the Columbian University at scholarship. But the girl gave up the University to devote herself entirely to music. By 2001 she was already featured on several soundtracks, including the 1997's blockbuster Men In Black and the comedy Dr. Dolittle 2.
Keys was very lucky to meet Clive Davis, who later subscribed her to J Records. In 2001, Alicia released her debut album Songs In A Minor with the R&B hits Fallin' and Woman's Worth. The young artist's music consisted of a cute mixture of soul and pop, strongly influenced by hip-hop along with piercing vocals and confident lyrics. This stylish combination brought her fame in and abroad the USA and five Grammies for the album in 2002. By the end of 2003 the new work, titled The Diary Of Alicia Keys, was ready. It emerged such soul singles as You Don't Know My Name, If I Ain't Got You, Diary and a hip-hop influenced Karma. If I Ain't Got You established a new single record in the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart - it overdid Mary J. Blige's Your Child that stayed in charts for 49 weeks, spending there more than a year. In 2004, Keys became the best-selling female R&B artist of the year.
On July, 14 2005 Keys made a live session for MTV in the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. During the concert she presented new arrangements for her classical soul ballad Woman's Worth and the funky composition Heartburn, singing some covers with guest celebrities (such as Maroon 5's Adam Levine). The session featured two new songs by Alicia - Stolen Moments and Unbreakable. The success of the session's result, the album called Unplugged, appeared to be the highest one since the Nirvana's Unplugged In New York in 1994. This record brought a number of prestigious awards to Alicia. In late 2006 it was announced that Keys started her work over a new album, titled As I Am. It was released in November, 2007 and immediately showed astonishingly high sales and pleasantly surprised the listeners with the hit-singles No One and Like You'll Never See Me Again. As for the sound, it got a more evident pop slant, though presenting all the qualities, for which Alicia is adored by her fans. Album The Element Of Freedom was issued in 2009 and received fair reviews. Moreover, Alicia's fourth studio work became number one in charts of the US and Great Britain.