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After disputes with the label, she signed with Arista Records, and later released her debut album, Songs in A Minor, with J Records in 2001.
The album was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Fallin'" and selling over 16 million copies worldwide. Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles "You Don't Know My Name", "If I Ain't Got You", and "Diary", and selling eight million copies worldwide.
Keen on dissecting music, Keys continued developing her songwriting and finding her own 'flow and style" through her exploration of the intricacies in different music.
Keys spent more time in Harlem during her teenage years.
She credits her "tough" mother for anchoring her on a right path as opposed to many people she knew who ended up on the wrong path and in jail.
Keys attributed her unusual maturity as a young girl to her mother, who depended on her to be responsible while she worked to provide for them and give Keys as many opportunities as possible. She recalled her mother playing jazz records of artists like Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Sunday mornings, early musical moments Keys considers influential in kindling her interest in and emotional connection to music.
In 2009, Keys also collaborated with Jay Z on "Empire State of Mind", which became her fourth number-one single and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Girl on Fire (2012) was her fifth Billboard 200 topping album, spawning the successful title track, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
Her sixth studio album, Here (2016), became her seventh US R&B/Hip-Hop chart topping album.Her third album, As I Am (2007), produced the Hot 100 number-one single "No One", selling 7 million copies worldwide and earning an additional three Grammy Awards.In 2007, Keys made her film debut in the action-thriller film Smokin' Aces.Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American musician, singer, and songwriter.A classically-trained pianist, Keys was composing songs by age 12 and was signed at 15 years old by Columbia Records.
"[It] taught me how to think fast, how to play the game...taught me leadership, how to get out of bad situations when you need to, how to hold my own." His brother had talked to him about Keys and advised him to go see her, but Robinson shrugged it off as he had "heard that story 1,000 times".