Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

About Alicia Keys

As R&B hurtled toward the future in the early 2000s and pop was achieving new levels of gloss, Alicia Keys stood out not just as a torchbearer for organic, old-school soul, but as a quadruple threat—captivating singer, skilled keyboardist, pop-savvy songwriter and ambitious producer—rarely seen since the heydays of Stevie Wonder and Prince. The artist born Alicia Augello Cook in 1981 was classically trained but a product of the streets, raised by a single mother in a rough Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood from which piano-playing offered sanctuary. Keys’ combination of elegant songcraft and raw attitude would give hits like “Fallin’” (2001) and “No One” (2007) ample crossover appeal among pop, R&B and adult-contemporary audiences, and she carved out a place in the rap canon thanks to her skyscraping chorus on JAY-Z’s ubiquitous 2009 anthem “Empire State of Mind”. She’s continued to put up hall-of-fame numbers: in her first two decades, Keys never had an album chart lower than No. 2 on the Billboard 200. But from her lofty position, she’s been eager to dismantle the oppressive, male-gaze-oriented beauty standards applied to pop divas—after appearing on the cover of 2016’s Here without makeup, Keys made that natural look her red-carpet signature. And while she’s won so many Grammys (15) that she eventually took over the ceremony as host in 2019 and 2020, Keys invested the normally scripted role with the same sort of casual cool and off-the-cuff intimacy that have made her America’s most down-to-earth R&B queen.

  • HOMETOWN
    New York, NY
  • BORN
    25 January 1981