Alicia Keys, is a singer, songwriter, producer, and actress. Born in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, she is an only child of mixed racial heritage. Her mother is Italian, Scottish, and Irish, while her father is African American. Keys’ parents separated when she was a toddler and she was raised by her single mother. Determined to show her daughter a better life, Alicia’s mother enrolled her in music and dance classes. Her aptitude for classic music had her playing classic pieces by Beethoven and Chopin at the age of twelve. As a teen, she attended the prestigious Professional Performing Arts School, where she started writing songs at fourteen. She graduated as valedictorian of her class.

Soon after her high school graduation, Keys briefly attended Columbia University. Soon after she resigned from the school to focus on her musical career, she met Jeff Robinson, who went on to become her manager. He introduced her talent to Arista Records. Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, made it to the number one spot on the famed Billboard 200. It sold 236,000 units in its debut week, and went on to sell more than six million copies in the United States and 12 million internationally. Keys’ follow up album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and went on to become the sixth largest selling album by a female artist.

Her musical skill and talent garnered many awards and accolades including:

  • American Music Awards
  • ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards
  • Billboard Music Awards
  • Billboard Latin Music Awards
  • BET Honors
  • Grammy Awards
  • MTV Awards
  • MTV Video Music Awards
  • People’s Choice Awards

Alicia Keys is much more than a gifted musician. She uses her fame and fortune to help advance the needs of people afflicted with HIV and AIDS, especially those in Africa. The death of a close friend of her mother from AIDS inspired Keys to found the non-profit, Keep a Child Alive, an organization that provides medicine to African families with HIV and AIDS.

Keys has been tireless in her philanthropic efforts. She has donated to Frum tha Ground Up, a non-profit organization that aids children and teenagers with scholarships.  She traveled to Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to advocate for health care for children affected by AIDS. A documentary, Alicia in Africa: Journey to the Motherland, chronicles her efforts to gain attention and research for the cause she is committed to. In 2011, she spoke at the UN Aids Conference. Of her efforts to eradicate the stigma and suffering of this disease, Keys says, I believe Aids is the most important issue we face, because how we treat the poor is a reflection of who we are as a people.”

Alicia Keys is an amazing woman. Honing her craft from an early age led her to fame and fortune, which made a better life for herself and for her family. An advocate for others, she is using that recognition to make the world a better place for less fortunate people. That makes Alicia Keys a woman to be admired and respected, not just for her musical prowess, but for her decision to share her heart and soul with the world.