Since the tender age of 5, Alicia Keys has proven herself a true musical prodigy. Born and raised in Manhattan, New York, a great deal of her upbringing was devoted to music and her aspirations to succeed as a performer. Piano lessons beginning at such an early age allowed Alicia to blossom into the exceptionally talented pianist she is today. She credits much of her success to her mother's insistence on her continuing with the lessons, and ultimately growing as an artist. Her ultra-supportive mother advised her that piano-playing was the one thing in life that she would not allow her daughter to give up on. While many children may consider this to be a form of punishment, Alicia thought otherwise.
Piano-playing proved to become one of her true passions in life and she pursued it. Alicia eventually enrolled in the Professional Performance Arts School of Manhattan and chose to major in choir. An all-around outstanding student, her musical talents grew to an even higher level under the guidance of one of her instructors. This instructor helped to train her voice, enabling Alicia to further grow as a multi-talented musician. At the age of 16, Alicia's outstanding academic grades allowed her to finish high school early. Columbia University accepted her immediately thereafter, but she was intent on pursuing her love of music instead.
In 1998, major record labels began discovering her, which resulted in old-fashioned bidding wars in her honor. She eventually signed with Arista Records. At this point, she continued the process of writing, producing and recording the debut that she'd been working on since the age of 14. In late 1999, Alicia decided to join Clive Davis and his newfound record label, J Records. Davis has supported and groomed many high-profile artists in the past, including Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and Santana. Keys saw this as an opportunity to grow and Davis, being the legendary record mogul that he is, has been relentlessly hyping the piano-playing prodigy ever since. Recently, the 19-year-old musician's debut album, Songs in A Minor entered the Billboard album charts at #1. The album includes the hit single "Fallin," along with collaborations from other high-profile artists, including Jermaine Dupri and Isaac Hayes.