Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. A classically-trained pianist, Keys was composing songs by age 12 and was signed at 15 years old by Columbia Records. After disputes with the label, she signed with Arista Records, and later released her debut album, Songs in A Minor, with J Records in 2001. The album was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single “Fallin'” and selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002. Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles “You Don’t Know My Name”, “If I Ain’t Got You”, and “Diary”, and selling eight million copies worldwide. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards. Her duet “My Boo” with Usher became her second number-one single in 2004. Keys released her first live album, Unplugged (2005), and became the first woman to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one.
Her third album, As I Am (2007), produced the Hot 100 number-one single “No One”, selling 7 million copies worldwide and earning an additional three Grammy Awards. In 2007, Keys made her film debut in the action-thriller film Smokin’ Aces. She, along with Jack White, recorded “Another Way to Die” (the title song to the 22nd official James Bond film, Quantum of Solace). Her fourth album, The Element of Freedom (2009), became her first chart-topping album in the UK, and sold 4 million copies worldwide. In 2009, Keys also collaborated with Jay Z on “Empire State of Mind”, which became her fourth number-one single and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Girl on Fire (2012) was her fifth Billboard 200 topping album, spawning the successful title track, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. In 2013, VH1 Storytellers was released as her second live album. Her sixth studio album, Here (2016), became her seventh US R&B/Hip-Hop chart topping album.
Keys has received numerous accolades in her career, including 15 competitive Grammy Awards, 17 NAACP Image Awards, 12 ASCAP Awards, and an award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and National Music Publishers Association. She has sold over 65 million records worldwide. Considered a musical icon, Keys was named by Billboard the top R&B artist of the 2000s decade and placed number 10 on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years. VH1 also included her on their 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and 100 Greatest Women in Music lists, while Time has named her in their 100 list of most influential people in 2005 and 2017. Keys is also acclaimed for her humanitarian work, philanthropy and activism. She co-founded and is the Global Ambassador of the nonprofit HIV/AIDS-fighting organization Keep a Child Alive.
2016–present: Here and The Voice
On March 25, 2016, Keys was announced as a new coach on Season 11 of The Voice. During The Voice finale, she came in third place with team member We’ McDonald. On May 4, 2016, Keys released her first single in four years, entitled “In Common”. On May 28, 2016, Keys performed in the opening ceremony of 2016 UEFA Champions League Final in San Siro, Milan. The song topped Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart on October 15. On June 20, 2016, World Refugee Day, Keys released the short film Let Me In, which she executive produced in conjunction with her We Are Here organization. The film is a reimagining of the refugee crisis as taking place in the United States. On July 26, 2016, Keys performed at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. In October 2016, she released a single from upcoming album Here called Blended Family (What You Do For Love) feat. A$AP Rocky. On November 1, 2016, Keys unveiled her short film, “The Gospel,” to accompany the LP. Here was released on November 4, peaking at number 2 of the Billboard 200, becoming her seventh top 10 album. It peaked at number-one on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, becoming her seventh chart topper. On October 9, 2016, Keys performed a concert Here in Times Square in Times Square, New York. The performance was televised by BET on November 3, 2016.
In January 2017, she released the track “That’s What’s Up” that re-imagines the spoken word segment on the Kanye West song “Low Lights”. Keys returned for twelfth series of The Voice and won the competition with her artist Chris Blue, on May 23, 2017. In May 2017, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Keys announced that she was working on her seventh studio album, therefore she did not return for the thirteenth series of The Voice. In a letter to her fans, on the ‘As I Am’ 10th Anniversary, she revealed that the album is almost ready. On September 17, 2017, Keys performed at Rock in Rio, in a powerful and acclaimed performance. On October 18, 2017, NBC announced that Keys would be returning to the series for the show’s fourteenth season of The Voice alongside veterans Levine, Shelton, and new coach Kelly Clarkson. She placed in second place with her team member, Britton Buchanan. She will not return for the upcoming fifteenth season of The Voice. She wrote and composed the song “We Are Here”, which was featured in the short film We Rise; that film was part of the New-York Historical Society’s “Hotbed” exhibit about women’s suffrage, which ran from November 3, 2017 to March 25, 2018. On December 5, 2017, Hip-hop artist Eminem revealed that Keys collaborated on the song “Like Home” for his ninth studio album Revival. Keys also featured on the song “Morning Light” from Justin Timberlake’s fifth studio album Man of the Woods (2018) and on “Us”, the third single from James Bay’s second studio album “Electric Light”.
On January 15, 2019, Keys was announced as the host of the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. This was Keys’ first time being the master of ceremonies for Music’s Biggest Night.