Alicia Keys, from Harlem to worldwide superstar.
I promise that I will not just write about artists discovered by Clive Davis but there may be a few since he seems to have a golden ear when it comes to finding strong, talented women.
I will never forget the day I first heard Alicia Keys. A label representative came to my office to preview what would be her first album. The rep was known to present music just like Clive, which meant it was played LOUD, UNINTERUPTED and you would hear each of the presumed hit songs 2 or 3 times. And Clive always knew exactly which songs would be hits. In my position as a music buyer for a large chain, I also had a good ear for picking hit songs. One of the greatest things that Clive ever said to me was when I saw him at a show at the Roxy in Hollywood Ca, and he grabbed my ears and told me that I had “golden ears”.
My own personal preview of “SONGS in A Minor”
This was not just one of Clive’s Arista signings, this was the first release from his own label “J Records”. Alicia Keys was a classically trained pianist. She wrote, arranged and produced most of the album herself.
The rep from the label started with track #1, from “Songs in A Minor” which was “Piano & I”. She had me at just the piano since I love keyboards.
Next up was the song “Girlfriend”. My first thought was that Clive discovered another very talented artist. The rep shared a few photos of Alicia, and it was clear she had the looks to make major media and TV appearances. The camera seemed to love her gorgeous young face. Alicia was just 15 years old when she signed her record deal with Clive Davis.
Then came track #3. “How Come You Don’t Call Me”. It blasted out of the speaker and into my soul. It was a Prince song which was risky unless you had the talent to pull it off. Alicia had the talent and she nailed the “Prince” song.
But I was still slightly skeptical about her because I was waiting to hear that one song, written by her that would propel her to stardom. I only had to wait until the next track to hear, “that song”
Track 4, was “FALLIN”…it was the one that would go on to be her first #1 single and sell over 12 million copies worldwide.
As we continued through the album, I heard more beautiful songs. Alicia combined elements of soul, jazz. R&B, classical, gospel, blues and hip hop on her debut album. At the time the genre known as neo-soul was becoming very popular. Neo-soul combined a lot of other genres to give the fans a little more substance and soul than the typical R&B albums. Neo-soul became a popular sub-genre of R&B. Neo-soul was a reflection of what was happening throughout the world as R&B artists started listening to and experimenting with all types of music genres.
As I write about “Women in Music” I will feature other artists known for popularizing “neo-soul”.
As we continued through the preview of “Songs in A Minor” I heard a total of 16 songs. Four of these songs went on to be hit singles for Alicia Keys. The songs, “Fallin”, “A Woman’s Worth”, “Girlfriend” and “How Come You Don’t Call Me” all debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The album “Songs in A Minor” was released on June 5, 2001. Music critics loved the album and deemed it as a “classic”. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. During it’s first year the album and Alicia Keys won many top honors to include 5 Grammy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Awards and more. Songs in A Minor has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
Since her debut album, Alicia has now released 7 hit studio albums, 2 live albums, a re-mix album and 45 singles. She has sold over 42 million albums worldwide and has won 11 Grammy awards, 11 Billboard Awards and 3 American Music Awards.
This young girl born in Harlem who started playing the piano at age 7 is now a WORLDWIDE SUPER STAR!
Through the years I had the honor of seeing many of special shows and tours. I even got the rare opportunity to sit right in front of Alicia’s piano as she played several of her hits and new songs in a studio.
I have taken several photos with Alicia and here is just one of them.
Alicia Keys is worthy of sitting among everyone’s music collection. Here are some links where you can find her extraordinary music and talent, courtesy of DeepDiscount.com, one of the sponsors of this blog:
Alicia Keys: As I Am on CD
Alicia Keys: Here on CD
Alicia Keys: Alicia on CD
And this link will take you to more Alicia Keys music like live albums, LP versions and more – More Alicia Keys
In September I will feature some of the Greatest and most important “Women in Music”. The features will be a reflection of my own personal taste in music so it will be a mix of genres.