Alicia Keys was born on January 25, 1981 at Manhattan, New York. She was trained in both dance and music at the insistence of her mother. She soon took interest in music at the age of 5 and by the age of 7 she had started to play the piano. She graduated as a valedictorian at the age of 16 from the Professional Performing Arts School. She was naturally talented in music such that she started writing songs at the age of 14 itself. Soon after coming out of Arts college, she was signed to Columbia Records. She wrote and recorded the song ‘Dah Dee Dah’ which was put in the soundtrack of the film ‘Men in Black’ (1997). Next she went on to join J Records in 1999 and recorded the songs ‘Rock wit U’ and ‘Rear View mirror’ with the Kerry brothers which was put in the soundtracks of ‘Shaft’ (2001) and ‘Dr. Dolittle’ (2001). Her first album ‘Songs in A Minor’ came out in the year 2001. It was a major hit with the audience, selling 6.2 million copies in the United States and more than 12 million copies in the International market. The song reached the top spot on the Billboard 200 with sales in the first week in excess of 230,000 copies.
The kind of reception that the album received was the first of its kind for a debut album. Her variety and combination of different elements into her music composition was widely appreciated around the world. She had become the best selling new artist of the year and an overnight star in the international music industry. With her first album, Keys went on to win 5 awards at the Grammy Awards in 2002 which included the Song of the Year, Best R&B song and Best New Artist. In 2003, she released her next album called ‘The Diary of Alicia Keys’. Again the album debuted at the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200. In the first week, the album sold more than 600,000 copies.