Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), better known by her stage name Alicia Keys, is an American recording artist, musician and actress. She was raised by a single mother in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan in New York City. At age seven, Keys began to play classical music on the piano. She attended Professional Performing Arts School and graduated at 16 as valedictorian. She later attended Columbia University before dropping out to pursue her music career. Keys released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records.
Keys' debut album, “Songs in A Minor,” was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. It spawned four singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100: "Fallin'", "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" and "Girlfriend". She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "Fallin'".
Her second studio album, “The Diary of Alicia Keys,” was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies and was certified four times Platinum by the RIAA.. The album garnered an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. It spawned four singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100: "You Don't Know My Name", "If I Ain't Got You", "Diary" and "Karma". The album was certified four times Platinum by the RIAA.
Later that year, she released her first live album, “Unplugged,” which debuted at number one in the United States was certified Platinum by the RIAA. She became the first female to have an “MTV Unplugged” album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994. It produced two singles, "Unbreakable", which reached the Billboard Hot 100, and "Every Little Bit Hurts".
Keys made guest appearances in several television series in the following years. She made her film debut in “Smokin' Aces” and went on to appear in “The Nanny Diaries” in 2007.
Her third studio album, “As I Am,” was released in the same year and sold six million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. The album was certified triple Platinum by the RIAA. It spawned four singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100: "No One", "Like You'll Never See Me Again", "Teenage Love Affair" and "Superwoman".
The following year, she appeared in “The Secret Life of Bees,” which earned her a nomination at the NAACP Image Awards.
Her fourth studio album, “The Element of Freedom,” was released in 2009 and debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. It was certified platinum by the RIAA within its first month of release and produced five singles that attained moderate chart success. It featured the singles "Doesn't Mean Anything", "Put It in a Love Song" featuring Beyoncé, "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart", "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down", "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)" and "Wait Til You See My Smile."
Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 30 million albums and single worldwide, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time.