I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I'm from
New York '
('Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down')
Alicia Keys: Singer-songwriter, actress and philanthropist, after having sold thirty million albums worldwide to date, was recently named by Billboard magazine as the top R&B artist of the 2000-2009 decade. Keys' style has its roots in gospel and soul, which mixed with hip-hop beats and classical piano riffs combines to form a truly three-dimensional and current artist, capable of adapting her craft to move with the time and tide whilst always staying true to her background and beliefs.
Born on January 25th 1981, it is astonishing yet not unbelievable just how much Keys had achieved by the tender age of twenty one; five Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year ('Fallin'')and a debut album ('Songs in A Minor') which had sold over twelve million copies worldwide. That, however, was just the start for this New York native whose star would continue to rise and eclipse many of her contemporaries.
Keys' music is inspirational; 'Superwoman' talks about female empowerment and the inner strength of the fairer sex: it is uplifting; 'How It Feels To Fly' discusses taking risks and facing your fears in order to achieve your dreams: it is emotive; 'If I Ain't Got You' speaks about unconditional love in a materialistic and shallow world, echoed again by the recent hit single 'Doesn't Mean Anything' and lastly, it is anthemic with 'No One' and 'Wait Till You See My Smile' musing about the power of the human spirit. Keys has often expressed her aim for her music to transcend gender, race and culture, as well as her desire to champion and enthuse women; with her rousing, deeply personal and heartfelt lyrics I think it would be fair to say that Keys has done and continues to do just that.
Co-founder and Global Ambassador of 'Keep a Child Alive' a charity which provides medicine to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa; Keys can always be relied upon as an artist who takes the time to contribute to humanitarian efforts across the world. I admire this trait; artists who use their weight and worth to benefit causes other than the expansion of their own portfolios. It seems to be more of a random act these days, usually to coincide with a single or album release, rather than a lifestyle choice.
'The Diary of Alicia Keys' (2003), 'As I Am' (2007) and 'The Element of Freedom' (2009) are albums which fuse the genres of soul and latterly pop-rock to channel Keys' major influences such as Nina Simone, Prince and Marvin Gaye. There are tracks which deal with first love to loss and everything in between, which coupled with Keys' raw and impassioned voice makes listening feel an almost spiritual experience. I like to be able to relate to lyrics and, for me, herein lies the true point at which I really hear a track and it isn't simply, albeit pleasurable, background noise. Some critics have said that Keys' lyrics 'rarely stray from matters of the heart', but if airplay and downloads are anything to go by, it would appear that Keys is delivering exactly what her public wants. Not surprisingly and some would say about time then , that 'The Element of Freedom' has just given Keys her first UK number one album.
To conclude then, it would be fair to say that I am of course a fan, but don't just take my word for it; Keys will be touring the UK this coming May for what promises to be an evening of high-energy and high-emotion; she will make you feel brand new and the big lights might just inspire you.