|What does it mean to be the proprietor of your destiny? If you’re a singer, songwriter, pianist extraordinaire, producer, author, news correspondent, award winner, philanthropist and actress like Alicia Keys, it’s probably perceived as affluence. For Keys, prosperity isn’t measured monetarily but through passion, self-fulfillment and life experiences. It’s this philosophy that has made the songstress a master of endless promise and impressive achievements.|
|Born and bred in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Keys was strongly influenced by music from all different generations and disciplines including the essential music of Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder; classical compositions of Frederic Chopin, Erik Satie, and Leontyne Price; and urban lyricists such as Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and the Wu-Tang Clan. Since the age of seven, she received formal training in classical piano and jazz stylings of Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller, and Marian McPartland with her instructor Margaret Pine. However, it was not until Keys attended the Professional Performing Arts School under the tutelage of Miss Aziza, a bold pianist who wrote and composed original songs, that Keys was introduced to the art of songwriting and producing.
Discovered by manager Jeff Robinson at a Harlem PAL when she was 14, Keys performed throughout the tri-state area, anywhere and everywhere she could from tiny clubs to street corners. Two years later, she received a scholarship for and briefly enrolled in Columbia University before leaving to pursue a music career.
The road was far from being easy, but Keys’ eclectic education and early life lessons inspired her musical hybrid of soul, hip-hop, jazz and classical. This fusion permeated her five-time, Grammy-winning 2001 inaugural release, Songs In A Minor, on Clive Davis’ J Records. Debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, Minor sold more than 235,000 copies in its first week and later sales exceeded 10 million units worldwide. Together with Robinson, President of MBK Entertainment, producer Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, A&R executive Peter Edge and Davis, Chairman and CEO of BMG Label Group, Keys and her mentors solidified a formidable friendship and powerhouse musical team that encouraged and nurtured her musical vision and identity. “My team offers me different perspectives, but always recognizes the artist in me,” she says. “They encourage me to be who I am creatively.”