Alicia Keys is a definitive powerhouse in the music industry with a career spanning three decades and a staggering 15 Grammy Awards under her belt.
The New York born star is also a songwriter, a producer, an accomplished actress, a Times best-selling author, an entrepreneur and a powerful force in the global fight against HIV and Aids. And she manages to juggle all this whilst being a wife to producer husband Swiss Beatz and mother of two adorable boys, Egypt and Genesis, aged 7 and 3.
However, Keys is awarded her cover star status by the work she does to promote self-esteem among women. The star has shunned wearing make-up despite performing at concerts, appearing in magazine photoshoots and on live TV wearing minimal to no make-up, something which is undisputedly a bold stance for a woman on a very public platform where women are intensely scrutinised over their appearance.
Our April cover shot is also make-up free and has not been photoshopped. Practically unheard of in this day and age of camera trickery, lighting and advancements of modern day photoshop techniques.
Explaining her decision, Keys said she was tired of the “constant judgement of women” and stressed how her decision was a personal one and unique to her own experiences and development. She does not condemn make-up as a whole (or the women that wear it) but states that she would never so much as pick up a tube of mascara ever again.
As a result her skin is crystal clear and it has that infamous ‘glow’ that we always hear about, but never see on our complexions!
Alicia first burst onto the music scene in 1997 aged only 16 when she penned and sung the track ‘Dah Dee Dah’ for the Will Smith film ‘Men in Black.’ Keys was favoured by studio execs who instantly recognised both her singing and song writing talent and took her under their wing. She wrote all the tracks and released her debut album ‘Songs in A Minor’ in 2001 instantly catapulting the 20-year-old to fame. The album sold over 12 million copies worldwide and netted her 5 of her 15 Grammy Awards. Single ‘Fallin’ was number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks.
Her second album ‘The Diary of Alicia Keys’ was yet another overnight success, garnering her another 4 Grammy Awards in 2005. Proving to be a vocal powerhouse (and not all singers do) she released her first live album ‘Unplugged’ making her the first ever woman to have an MTV Unplugged album at Number One.
Alicia has endured ongoing success with ‘As I Am’ released in 2007, ‘The Element of Freedom’ where she collaborated with Jay-Z on track “Empire State of Mind” in 2009 and ‘Girl On Fire’ in 2012. Keys had a break from singing to spend time raising her young family.
In 2016 Alicia released her powerful and critically acclaimed new sixth studio album ‘Here’ on Sony’s RCA Records. Unlike other albums it offered an honest glimpse into what matters most to Keys, the artist shined a light on the sonic soulfulness and stories from New York, the city that raised her (she was born in Hell’s Kitchen). As an accompanying visual story to ‘Here’, Keys also released a short-film entitled ‘The Gospel’ inspired by her many songs showing she could turn her hand to acting and producing.
Alicia is now in her third stint as a coach on ‘The Voice US’ and is proving to be a fierce competitor this year. She put together a far stronger team than the other three mentors (rookie Kelly Clarkson and veterans Adam Levine and Blake Shelton). The 12 artists that she brought into the battle round earned a whopping 29 chair turns during the blind auditions. Alicia also won season 12 of ‘The Voice’ in 2017 when she mentored RnB and soul singer Chris Blue. In her first stint as a coach during Season 11, replacing ‘Dirty’ singer Christina Aguilera, her artist We McDonald managed to finish third behind the winner Sundance Head from Team Blake Shelton and Adam Levine’s runner-up Billy Gilman.
Alicia made her directorial debut for Lifetime’s Five and most recently served as Executive Producer of the critically-acclaimed film ‘The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete’. In 2011, she made her acting debut with Lydia R. Diamond’s play ‘Stick Fly for the Cort Theater’, which Keys also composed the original music for.
As we were going to print it was announced that Alicia is developing a biopic of iconic choreographer Alvin Ailey with the support of the Ailey Organization. She is producing with Susan Lewis through her AK Worldwide production company and is set for release early next year.
ALICIA THE ACTIVIST
As a devoted and influential activist, Alicia launched We Are Here in 2014, a movement that empowers the global community around a host of issues and initiatives building a better world where all people are heard, respected, equal, and treated with dignity.
Alicia is also the co-founder of Keep a Child Alive (KCA), a non-profit organisation that partners with grass roots organisations to combat the physical, social, and economic impact of HIV on children, their families and their communities in Africa and India.
She also hosts KCA’s annual fundraiser gala, The Black Ball, in New York City (“where concrete jungles are made of, in New York, these lights will inspire you…” as will Alicia’s music!)
RUMOURED ALBUM NO. 7
Alicia’s manager Johnny Wright, who also represents Justin Timberlake and Incubus, is leading the charge on her new recording contract and fielding bids from Warner Bros Records and her current record label, Sony.
Alicia proved at the recent Clive Davis pre-Grammy gala in January that she has definitely still got the vocal powers and panache for performing. In honoring Jay-Z at the bash, Alicia demonstrated her hip-hop chops as she delivered a medley of “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” “Hard Knock Life” and her duet with the rapper, “New York State of Mind.”
“The price just went up” noted Wright after the stellar Clive Davis performance.
As Alicia ponders yet another lucrative recording deal we are all safe in the knowledge that we can at least catch her live as she prepares for her 2019 World Tour, tipped to be coming to both Madrid and Barcelona in the latter part of the year.