Alicia Keys


A classically trained pianist, Alicia Keys (Alicia Augello Cook) was raised by a single mother, and briefly enrolled in Columbia University before the release of her 2001 debut album, Songs In A Minor, which garnered five Grammys. But Keys was just warming up: Her 2003 album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, and 2007’s As I Am, both debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 (the latter was the biggest debut for any artist in Soundscan history). In 2004, Keys wrote a book, Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics. Having appeared on The Cosby Show at age four, Keys has been acting longer than she’s been singing. She’s starred in the films like Smokin’ Aces and The Secret Life of Bees. The woman even ran a marathon—in Greece! Since the release of her 2009 album, Element of Freedom, Keys—with help from her husband, producer Swizz Beats—has taken on a new role: mother. Keys was also a performer at the 2011 BET Awards.