Alicia Keys is arguably one of R&B’s most successful acts with 15 Grammy Awards and millions of records sold worldwide. But, during a recent interview, the singer revealed that her career almost went in a completely different direction.
She was the latest guest to take the hot seat for WIRED’s highly-popular YouTube series, The Web's Most Searched Questions, where she said she was almost a part of not one but three girl groups. At the time, Keys was still trying to get a foot in the music business industry.
“My first band that I was in was just four of my homegirls from my neighborhood. I don’t even think we got a point where we had a name,” the 39-year-old remembered. After that group failed to take off, Keys was tapped for the formation of another girl group.
“My second band I was in was kind of like one of those projects that are put together by people. They heard I could sing and was like ‘Oh, maybe you could be a part of it. It didn’t work out with me but eventually they came out. I think their name was Little Women,” Keys recollected.
That girl group would eventually go on to become 3LW, which was comprised of Adrienne Bailon, Keily Williams and Naturi Naughton. Naughton split from the group in 2002 before the group eventually disbanded in 2007, with Bailon and Williams going on to become members of The Cheetah Girls alongside Raven-Symoné and Sabrina Bryan.
Elsewhere in the interview, Keys shared that she tried a third attempt to start another band with some of her “homegirls'' she knew from school when she was about 14. “We were always together singing Groove Theory’s ‘Tell Me.’ That was our song. We sang like 6,000 times a day trying to prepare for anybody that would maybe open a door for us.”
“Nothing really happened with any of the bands I was in but that’s okay because I’m grateful for them all,” Keys added. “There was deep sisterhood there. Eventually, I found my way to realizing I wasn’t meant to be in a group.”
Although neither of these groups worked out for Keys, it’s what led to artist manager Jeff Robinson discovering her after he came to one her performances, who would go on to manage her career before they parted ways in 2010.
“When Jeff saw our group, he saw something in me. He said ‘You know, you should be a solo artist. I was like ‘Nobody wants to be a solo artist’ but that was the beginning of kind of figuring out who Alicia Keys was,” she shared.
Check out the rest of her appearance on WIRED’s The Web's Most Searched Questions below to hear what else she had to say about writing “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready),” with Drake, what it’s like to host the Grammys, and more.
(Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for NARAS)