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2000s Artist Highlight: Alicia Keys

February 23, 2017

I hesitate to reuse the phrase “queen of the 2000s” for the multiple Grammy award-winning artist Alicia Keys for lack of accurate representation. Instead, I’ll just stick with “absolute icon of the music industry”.

In January 25, 1981, Alicia Augullo Cook was born in New York, New York. She began piano lessons when she was seven and quickly stepped into the musical spotlight. Alicia attended the prestigious Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, eventually graduating when she was just 16. Soon afterwards, Alicia was given a full scholarship to Columbia University where she only attended for four weeks, deciding instead to drop out and focus solely on her music. This is the part of the story where most parents start to cringe – and cling to their bank accounts. However, Alicia Cook created her stage name “Alicia Keys” and absolutely took the music scene by storm.*

Alicia initially signed with Arista Records in 1998, but switched just a year later to J Records, headed by the “legendary music impresario” Clive Davis** (he helped launch the careers of many legends including Whitney Houston and Barry Manilow). Here she released her debut album, “Songs in A Minor” in 2001. This album alone sold six million copies, earned Keys 5 Grammys, and spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. If that didn’t kick off the decade right, I don’t know what could.

The description of Alicia Keys and her debut album sums it up nicely: “With her classical training on the piano, soul-stirring lyrics, and heart-stopping voice, Keys had become a bona fide superstar. Not just another pretty face singing catchy pop, Keys wrote most of the lyrics and music, played all the instruments, and coproduced the album”.*** And she didn’t stop at just one amazing album in the 2000s. Alicia Keys was one of the artists who ruled over the decade and continues to have chart-toppers to this day.

This is a complete list of Alicia Keys’ seven No. 1’s on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (courtesy of Billboard****)

Songs in A Minor, July 14, 2001 (six weeks)

The Diary of Alicia Keys, Dec. 20, 2003 (six weeks)

Unplugged, Oct. 29, 2005 (one week)

As I am, Dec. 1, 2007 (seven weeks)

The Element Of Freedom, Jan. 2, 2010 (five weeks)

Girl On Fire, Dec. 15, 2012 (two weeks)

Here, Nov. 26, 2016 (one week)

Once again, as we are one week closer to Coffeehouse: The 2000s, I can’t help but think back to some of my fondest memories in the backseat of my mom’s van listening to Alicia Keys singing better than I ever could, and that alone is getting me through the wait. Coffeehouse, here we come!!