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The Biography of Alicia Keys

Updated on March 9, 2020
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The writer is a creative Content Strategist, who develops online content and loves music.

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is one of the most prolific musicians of all time, and she’s beloved world over. She’s hails from the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, New York and is a highly-talented musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, and actress.

I love her because she always releases emotionally inspiring music, and is sort of my namesake (I’m Alice, which is close to Alicia). The amazing music artist started her career in 1996 and has been active ever since. Here, I look at Alicia Keys’ family background, music career, acting career, and net worth.

Related Read: The Biography of Bruno Mars

Alicia Keys Birthday, Parents, Husband and Children

Alicia Augello Cook, professionally called Alicia Keys, was born on 25 January 1981 in New York City. Her mother, Teresa Augello, was of Italian descent and worked as a paralegal and actress, while her father, Craig Cook, was of Jamaican descent.

Craig Cook left the family when Alicia was just two years old, leaving the parenting duty to Teresa. The musician has in the past said that her father’s absence made her angry when she was younger, but it also helped to show her how strong her mom was. Her mother would work three jobs to make a living, and the two of them stayed in a single-room apartment. Alicia feels that her mother taught her how to survive, and be tenacious and self-reliant.

After a long career in the music industry, Alicia Keys finally walked down the aisle to wed her husband, Swizz Beatz. Their wedding took place on 31 July 2010, and the two love birds are blessed with two children: Egypt Daoud Dean (born in 2010) and Genesis Ali Dean (born in 2014).

Swizz Beatz, also called Kasseem Dean, was born on 13 September 1978 and is a hip hop recording artist, record producer, disk jockey, art collector and businessman. He has three other children from previous relationships with Mashonda Tifrere, Nicole Levy and Zhanna Andrianova.

Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz

Alicia Keys Discography

From a young age, Alicia Keys’ mother encouraged her to take part in extracurricular activities, so that she could discover her muse. The extracurricular activities, which included music, dance, and theatre, gave the songstress focus and motivation. During her teen years Alicia learnt about classical piano and classical music in general.

When she was just 12 years old, she attended dance, music, theater and choir classes at the Professional Performing Arts School. She continued to sing, compose music and perform in music groups all through junior high and high school. After becoming an accomplished pianist, Alicia took an interest in jazz music at 14 years of age.

From age 15, Alicia Keys began to work as a professional musician, singer and composer. Since then, she has released the following albums:

1. Songs in a Mirror in 2001 under J Records: It was the songstress’ debut album, and it peaked at first position on the United States Billboard 200. One of the singles from the album, “Fallin” reached number one on the United States Billboard Hot 100. “Songs in a Mirror” was a huge commercial success, and sold over 16 million copies globally, making Alicia the best-selling 2001 R&B singer.

2. The Diary of Alicia Keys in 2003 under J Records: Within the first week of its release, “The Diary of Alicia Keys” sold more than 618,000 copies. Overall, the second studio album sold eight million copies globally. A single from the album, “If I Ain’t Got You”, stayed on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart for more than one year.

3. Unplugged in 2005: It was Alicia Keys’ first live album, and it peaked at top position in the U.S. She was declared the first female artist after Nirvana to have a leading MTV Unplugged album.

4. As I Am in 2007 under J Records: “No One” was the lead single in As I Am, and it was the artist’s hugest commercial success after “Fallin”. The song stayed at top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five successive weeks. As I Am sold 742,000 during the first week after its release.

5. The Element of Freedom in 2009 under J Records: With its mid-tempo, low key acoustics, The Element of Departure was a departure from the artist’s soul music in the first albums. While it did not attain first position in the US, the album became number one in the UK. Additionally, the RIAA platinum certified it within the first month, and five of its singles achieved chart success.

6. Girl on Fire in 2012 under RCA Records: Within the first week of its release, Girl on Fire sold 159,000 copies in the US, which was one of the songstress’ lowest opening album sales.

7. VH1 Storytellers in 2013 under RCA Records: VH1 Storytellers was the second live album from Alicia Keys after Unplugged. It attained position 108 in the US, 42 in Germany and 35 in Switzerland.

8. Here in 2016 under RCA Records: The album attained the first position on the US R&B Charts and sold 42,000 copies in the US.

9. Alicia under RCA Records: It is the seventh album from Alicia Keys, and its release is scheduled for March 20, 2020.

The following are some of Alicia Keys’ most successful singles since she started her professional music career in 1996:

  • “Fallin’” (2001): The hit topped the US charts, and received numerous certifications, including ARIA (platinum), BVMI (gold), NVPI (platinum), RIAA (gold), BPI (gold), IFPI SWI (platinum), and RIANZ (gold)
  • “A Woman’s Worth” (2002): While it attained position three on the US R&B chart, “A Woman’s Worth” won the artist an ARIA Gold certification
  • “If I Ain’t Got You” (2004): After peaking at number one on the US R&B chart, the single received a RIAA Gold certification and BPI Platinum certification
  • “My Boo” (2004): As a collaboration between Alicia Keys and Usher, “My Boo” topped the US charts , and became RIAA platinum, BPI Silver and MC Platinum certified
  • “No One” (2007): The song became top position on the United States and Switzerland charts. It also received several certifications, including, ARIA Platinum, BPI Platinum, BMVI Gold, RIANZ Platinum, 2 MC Platinum, and 3 RIAA Platinum

On 9 January 2020, Alicia Keys released “Underdog” as a third single from Alicia. The jam was composed by the artist herself together with Ed Sheeran, Foy Vance, Johnny McDaid, Johnny Coffer, and Amy Wadge. After its release, “Underdog” reached position 16 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 Charts.

During her long and illustrious career, Alicia Keys has been able to garner the following awards:

  • Five American Music Awards
  • Seven BET Awards
  • Nine Billboard Awards
  • Fifteen Grammy Awards
  • Three MTV Europe Awards
  • Four MTV VMA Awards
  • Seventeen NAACP awards
  • Two People’s Choice Awards
  • Six Soul Train Awards
  • Three World Music Awards
  • Six ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards
  • Six Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards

Alicia Keys Movies and TV Shows

Apart from singing, and composing music, Alicia Keys has also appeared in several films and TV shows, such as:

  • "The Cosby Show" in 1984 as Maria
  • "Charmed" in 1998 as a P3 VIP Patron
  • "American Dreams" in 2002 as Fontella Bass
  • "Smokin’ Aces" in 2006 as Georgia Sykes
  • "The Nanny Diaries" in 2007 as Lynette
  • "The Secret Life of Bees" in 2008 as June Boatwright
  • "Jem and the Holograms" in 2015 as herself
  • "Empire" in 2015 as Skye Summers
  • "Let Me In" in 2016 as Zara

Alicia Keys Net Worth

With such a prosperous career in the music and acting industry, Alicia Keys’ multimillionaire status comes as no surprise. Her net worth is about $120 million as of 2020. Alicia's revenue comes from her outstanding music career and strategic deals with prominent brands. All her albums have successfully sold millions of copies, making her one of the most bankable personalities in the music sector.

Moreover, the Grammy-winning artist and her husband, Swizz Beatz, bought a one-of-a-kind home at $20.8 million in Southern California, called “The Razor House”. The architectural masterpiece has at least six bedrooms, amazing ocean views, a floating staircase, Movie Theater, fully-fitted gym, heated infinity pool, and many other spectacular features.


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    • alambientertainment profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Njambi 

      4 weeks ago from Nairobi

      Thanks for your comment Olusegun

    • OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile image


      4 weeks ago from NIGERIA

      Good to know these about her.


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