With her new album HERE, political activism and decision to go makeup free, Alicia Keys was one of 2016’s most prominent artists. Today the R&B/Soul singer turns 36 so we’re taking a look at 10 interesting and lesser known fun facts about Alicia Keys’ life and career.
Her real name is Alicia Augello-Cook and she was born in Harlem, New York.
She was born to Teresa Augello, a paralegal and part-time actress, and Craig Cook, a flight attendant. Her mother is of Scottish, Irish, and Italian descent, while her father is African-American.
In 1985, she featured in the Slumber Party episode of the Cosby Show. Keys played one of Rudy’s friends.
She studied the piano at age seven and played classics by Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart. When she was 14, she composed her first song, “Butterfly’.” She would, later on, include it in her first album.
One of her nicknames is Lellow.
At the age of 16, Alicia wanted the name Wilde to be her stage surname. However, her mom intervened, saying, “It sounds like you’re a stripper.” It was her manager who suggested “ Keys.” She turned out to like it as it resonated with her more as a performer and a person.
One of the lesser-known facts about Alicia Keys is her odd habit—the girl loves to crack her neck!
Alicia Keys is a 15-time Grammy winner. For the record, Adele and Taylor Swift have ten and Rihanna only eight.
She’s been friends with Usher and Beyoncé since she was 13.
Her favorite composer is Frederic Chopin
Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, sold over 12 million copies worldwide and earned Keys 5 Grammy Awards in 2002. ‘Best New Artist’ and ‘Song of the Year’ for “Fallin’’” are a few of her accolades. She is also the second American artist ever to receive five Grammys in a single night.
All of her albums except for her fourth, The Element of Freedom, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in the US. It was also Keys’ first album to top the charts in the UK.
Her first film stint was for ‘Smokin’ Aces,’ a 2006 action thriller written and directed by Joe Carnahan. This was followed by ‘Nanny Diaries’ in 2007.
As if Keys couldn’t get any more talented, she made her directorial debut in 2011 for the short film “Project 5.” The film centers on the stories of five different individuals, all battling breast cancer.
In November 2012, Keys released Girl on Fire, her fifth chart-topping album in the US. It sold over 159,000 copies in the first week.
She was dubbed the “Top R&B Songs Artist of the 2000s” by Billboard magazine.
Keys is the co-founder and ambassador of “Keep a Child Alive,” nonprofit providing medicine to people living with HIV and AIDS in Africa.
As part of Barrack Obama’s inauguration festivities, Keys modified her song “Girl on Fire” to “Obama’s on Fire” in honor of the president and the first lady, Michelle Obama.
Another mind-blowing Alicia Keys fact is that she had to learn to play the cello in just four weeks for her role in the 2008 movie, “The Secret Life of Bees.” I think it’s safe to say that she nailed that one.
This artist is just pure talent. Here are some of her best songs that you NEED to add to your Deezer playlist:
- “Fallin’’ (Songs in A Minor, 2001)
- “If I Ain’t Got You” (The Diary of Alicia Keys, 2003)
- “You Don’t Know My Name” (The Diary of Alicia Keys, 2003)
- “My Boo” Usher (Confessions, 2004)
- “No One” (As I Am, 2007)
- “Superwoman” (As I Am, 2007)
- “Empire State of Mind” (The Element of Freedom, 2009)
- “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” (The Element of Freedom, 2009)
- “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” (The Element of Freedom, 2009)
- “Girl On Fire” (Girl On Fire, 2012)
- “Blended Family (What You Do For Love)” (Here, 2016)
- “Show Me Love” 21 Savage and Miguel (Alicia, 2020)
- “Underdog” (Alicia, 2020)