Alicia “The Princess of Soul” Keys has revealed just how personal her new album ‘The Element of Freedom’ is. The record was written about her depressed feelings following the death of her grandmother. “With the last album, I was really trying to find myself and I was feeling extremely overworked.” Alicia says. “I was snappy, I was nasty, I was mean, losing my grandmother during that time as well. Everything felt like it could all just tumble down at once. I was also starting to understand that I was dealing with certain people in business that were not really for me and they all had their intentions and thoughts.” Explaining further about the recording of her fourth album, Alicia went on to add: “I found more freedom. Now there’s a mixture of strong and delicate. A new sound, a new emotion. That’s a lot of who I am right now. In the past, I was locking myself in the studio because I thought it was the only way to create music. This was a more casual way to do it.” The Element of Freedom is Alicia’s fourth studio album and will be released on December 15, 2009.
Keys is the co-founder and Global Ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organization that provides medicine to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa. Keys and U2 lead singer Bono recorded a cover version of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”, in recognition of World AIDS Day 2005. Keys and Bono’s version of the song was retitled “Don’t Give Up (Africa)” to reflect the nature of the charity it was benefiting. She visited African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to promote care for children affected by AIDS. Her work in Africa was documented in the documentary Alicia in Africa: Journey to the Motherland and was available in April 2008.]
Keys has also donated to Frum tha Ground Up, a non-profit organization that aids children and teenagers with scholarships. She performed in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, as part of the worldwide Live 8 concerts to raise awareness of the poverty in Africa and to pressure the G8 leaders to take action.
Born with the name Alicia Augello Cook on January 25, 1981, Alicia was raised by her single white mother in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan in New York City. At age seven, Keys began to play classical music on the piano. She attended Professional Performing Arts School and graduated at 16 as valedictorian. She later attended Columbia University before dropping out to pursue her music career. Keys released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records.
Keys’ debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for “Fallin'”. Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. She became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.
Keys made guest appearances in several television series in the following years. She made her film debut in Smokin’ Aces and went on to appear in The Nanny Diaries in 2007. Her third studio album, As I Am, was released in the same year and sold six million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. The following year, she appeared in The Secret Life of Bees, which earned her a nomination at the NAACP Image Awards. She will release her fourth album, The Element of Freedom, on December 15, 2009. Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time.