The American singer, winner of 15 Grammy Awards, grew up in the most dangerous part of New York and, with many sacrifices, achieved worldwide success, and described her life path in a recently published book that immediately became a bestseller.
“My journey began in the urban jungle, continued through the peaks and canyons of the music industry, where I surpassed my wildest dreams, and brought me back to the beginning and the question: Who am I really?”, Wrote American musician Alicia Keys in her memoir “More Myself : A Journey ”. The book was published at the end of March 2020 and has been the best-selling biographical edition in the online bookstore “Amazon” for days, which is not unusual, because Alisha Keys is a singer who has sold more than 45 million albums in two decades of her career.
This is the life story of Alisha Keys!
He never showed up again!
Alisha Keys was born on January 25, 1981, in New York. Her mother, Teresa Augello, an assistant at the Bar Association, became pregnant with Craig Cook, a steward of Jamaican roots with whom she occasionally dated. But he did not feel mature enough to become a parent and Teresa was left alone.
Craig visited her in the hospital when she gave birth to a daughter – but he came with his new girlfriend.
– It’s also a story about my relationship with Craig. I don’t even remember how many times I was disappointed, because he should have come to see me, and then he would cancel the agreement at the last moment – he states in the book Alisha, whose real name is Alicia Augello Cook-Din.
She ended a series of disappointments when she was fourteen. In a letter full of bitterness, but also determination, she told him that she did not need it and that he would not appear at her door again. Craig respected her decision and never came back.
Alisha grew up in Manhattan Plaza, a 46-storey residential complex with almost 1,700 apartments and 3,500 residents, mostly intended for artists. Near Broadway with affordable rent with a city subsidy, it was home to future acting stars such as Mickey Rourke, Patrick Dempsey and Terence Howard, and Samuel L. Jackson also worked as a security guard at the entrance to the building for a while.
Manhattan Plaza is located in the part of New York known as “Hell’s Kitchen”. Today, it is a fashionable neighborhood, but at the time when Alisha grew up, it was full of criminals and drug addicts. Teresa therefore took good care of her daughter and overwhelmed her with numerous obligations so that she would not wander around the neighborhood. At one point, for example, Alisha attended classes in contemporary dance and ballet, and also trained in gymnastics.
Coincidentally, when she was six, their family friends moved into a new apartment where they had no room for their piano, so they gave it to her. The old, scratched instrument soon became the center of her life. Not only figuratively – because she went to piano lessons – but also because he stood in the middle of their small living room and separated the common part from Alisha’s corner.
She made catalogs for children’s clothes
She entered the world of show business two years ago, but not as a musician. Her mother applied for an audition for the “Cosby Show”, so little Alisha starred in one episode of that humorous series. She also recorded catalogs for children’s clothes, and at the age of nine, she founded a music group in which she was the youngest – the other members were 14 and 18 years old.
– I thought that we would be as famous as Jackson 5, and that I would be like Michael Jackson – she described her first musical dreams. In addition to music, she excelled in school. She skipped two grades and was always the youngest, and she finished high school at the age of 16, as the best in her generation.
Even before graduation, she had another, almost equally important paper in her hands – a contract with the record company “Columbia”.
Two years earlier, she met Kerry Broders Jr. – a parking lot guard who was building a music career under the name Krucial. After a few months, Alisha started a love affair with Kerry, who was ten years older, and she lied that she was 17 years old. For almost a decade, he was not only her boyfriend, but also a music associate and mentor, who introduced her to agent Jeff Robinson.
“Come with me and we’ll make millions together,” Robinson told her after seeing her perform with the band for the first time. With his help, record companies became interested in a handsome teenager with an angelic voice, and the most specific was the house “Columbia Records”. After lengthy negotiations, they offered her an attractive six-figure contract, which allowed her to leave her mother and move to a new apartment with Kerry.
How did the name change?
In “Colombia”, they told her that she could consider changing her last name – Augelo-Cook sounded too serious to them. Alicia thought for days, for a while she even intended to be called Alicia Wilde, but her mother answered her, claiming that they were called strippers. And then Michael Moldin, one of the directors of “Colombia”, suggested that her name be Alicia Keys – after he had dreamed the night before that he had lost his keys.
– The musical key has been with me all my life, and I can open all the doors with the keys – Alisha explained why she chose the artistic surname Keys in the end.
As easy as the name change went, the creation of the debut album was exhausting. After a series of attempts with various producers, which “Colombia” brought to help her, but also to direct her into musical waters that she did not like, Kerry helped her again. He set up a small recording studio in their living room, so the two of them created music all night without pressure from the bosses of “Columbia” and their expectations. But while she was recording the songs, “Colombia” changed management, and the new management wanted to make her a sexy teenage princess who performs pop hits.
“If I had given in then, I would never have achieved what I wanted,” Keys said. She was rescued by Clive Davis, a legendary producer who worked with musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. He thought that Alisha Keys should be allowed to stay her own – and he believed in her so much that in 1999 he paid “Colombia” half a million dollars to let her into the record company “Arista” where he worked.
She trusted her instinct
When the recording of her first album was nearing the end, only one song was missing, so Alisha pulled out an old demo recording of the song “Fallin”, in which she described her turbulent relationship with Kerry. It seemed that the album was over, but then there were changes in “Arista”. It was bought by the big house “BMG”, and Davis was offered 150 million dollars to start his own record company. But, the condition was that he could take only five well-known and five new performers from “Ariste”. When the bosses of “BMG” found out that they would take Alisha Keys as well, they offered her a contract several times bigger to stay with them. However, Alisha trusted her instinct and turned down the offer, so her first album “Songs in A Minor” was released on June 5, 2001, on his label.
Convinced of its quality, Davis launched a major advertising campaign and even persuaded his friend Oprah Winfrey to invite the young singer to his TV show, the most watched in America.
A nice girl with a beautiful smile, she started performing at the Opera by playing Beethoven’s “Für Elise”, and continued with her song “Fallin”.
Oprah seemed to throw magic dust at me. The day before the performance, I was almost unknown, and only a day later, a star whose autograph was requested by hundreds of fans – said Alisha. Already in its first week, her album topped the best-selling albums in the US!
After winning five awards as a debutante at the Grammy Awards, in 2003 she released the even more commercially successful album “The Diary of Alicia Keys”. However, success also had its ugly side. Constant concerts and promotional obligations completely exhausted her, but she did not want to stop.
– After waiting for a chance all your life, it is difficult to say “I have had enough”, because you are afraid that everything you have achieved will disappear if you take a break – she revealed how she felt in those days.
Maybe she would have continued at the same pace if one night, after who knows which concert in a row, she had not experienced a nervous breakdown in the dressing room. Sitting in front of the mirror, she cried inconsolably, knowing that something had to change.
That’s what she did – she went on vacation to Egypt. At that time, she was more and more interested in her black roots and Africa, so in agreement with the management, she canceled all obligations and went on a three-week vacation. She first ran a marathon in Greece, and then spent two weeks alone in Egypt, traveling from place to place along the Nile River.
“I felt like I had escaped from prison, not like I went on vacation,” she said when she returned to America.
She knew that nothing would be the same in her life, but before the new beginning, she was greeted by one end.
Her paternal grandmother Virgil died, who had only one wish on her deathbed – for Alisha to reconcile with her father Craig.
Meeting my father again
– Sadness brought us closer. He was the son of a broken heart, and I was an emotionally wounded granddaughter. In those days, I saw his different face – Ališa described meeting her father again. Although she never built a real family relationship with him, he remained present in her life.
The other sad end came in 2007, when she realized she was moving further and further away from Kerry. He drank too much, she traveled too much, and the physical separation resulted in emotional.
– I knew that Kerry wanted to buy an engagement ring and was planning to propose to me, and that scared me. One evening we started talking about the future and I told him that our relationship had come to an end. We both concluded that it was the best – revealed the singer, who completely devoted herself to her career after the love shipwreck. She recorded the album “As I Am”, so she accepted several acting offers – for the films “Ace up her sleeve” and “Diaries of a Nanny”.
That’s when she realized – he’s not a spoiled jerk!
All the while, her agent was trying to persuade her to collaborate with the increasingly popular musician Swizz Beatz, two years older than her. She didn’t like the idea, because she met him when she was fourteen and he didn’t leave any impression on her then.
– Alisha thought I was disgusting. And she was right! When I started to make my way on the music scene at the age of sixteen, I accepted an aggressive style of behavior, fast cars and shiny clothes. It was a few years before she met my other side – Beatz, real name Kasseem Dean, recalled.
When she finally invited him to her studio, Alisha was surprised to realize that Aviz was not a superficial, spoiled coward, as she had thought him until then, but a playful artistic soul, prone to surprises.
So he once invited her to lunch and was deliberately late so that he could tie a large picture of a street artist on the roof of her car, on which was a piano with keys.
Swizz Beatz was married to singer Mashonda Tifrere, with whom he has a son, Kasseem Jr., but when he started courting Alisha, that marriage existed only on paper. Shortly before her 29th birthday, while on vacation in Saint-Tropez on the Cote d’Azure, Swizz proposed to her – but they had to wait until the wedding process was over with the wedding.
She hid her pregnancy from the public
At that time, Alisha remained pregnant, but she hid it from the public for months, because she had just started a world tour. It wasn’t easy for her! At the concert in Lisbon, she almost vomited in the middle of a performance in front of tens of thousands of fans.
A few days after he divorced, he and Alisha announced that they were engaged and expecting a child. They got married two months later in the villa of their friends in Corsica.
The bride wore an ivory silk wedding dress by designer Vera Wang, and the groom wore a Tom Ford tuxedo. They were married by new age writer Deepak Chopra, and among the fifty or so guests were musicians Bono and Queen Latifa.
She gave birth to the son of Egypt, Daoud Dean, in October of the same year, using the hypnotherapy technique, which makes labor easier for mothers.
– Parenting is not only feeding and changing diapers, although there is a lot of that, but also a sacred task. You have to teach a child to love, learn and celebrate life. Swizz and I are committed to that task – said Alisha Keys, who, along with Swizz Beatz, found harmony between her career and family. Four years later, she gave birth to another son, Genesis Ali Dean, and as members of a wider family, she also accepted her husband’s children.
– Our family has become a perfect match. When you love someone, then you love his whole life path – Alisha explained, and to show that she really means it, she showed three years ago, when she published a book about joint parenting with Swizz’s ex-wife.
The new album is ready!
Her career is still on the rise. In 2020, she recorded a new album “ALICIA”, which went on sale in mid-May, the same year.
– No doubt I am strong and determined, but I am also a vulnerable person who sometimes cries on the bathroom floor. For the new album, I wrote a song in which I sing “I live life in my own way”. These verses best describe how I feel today. I don’t worry about what others think of me, much less what they expect from me, but I go my own way – she explained how she found peace in her life.
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