Alicia Keys is a multi-talented songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist, and actress.
Alicia Keys has been playing the piano since she was seven years old. She is classically trained and officially claims the nomenclature, pianist. Alicia integrates playing the piano in all her performances.
The piano features quite prominently in Alicia Keys’ life. Before her big break and while scouting record deals, Alicia played the piano as well as sang as part of her audition to record executives.
Alicia Keys was influenced by her mother’s love of Italian music and had a very early start in music. She began performing at four years old and was learning to play the piano by seven via the Suzuki method after a friend gave her an old upright piano.
Her mother encouraged her efforts and Alicia soon focused on classical music and jazz. At one point, recognizing the financial burden that her piano lessons placed on her single mother, she proffered to drop out but her mother wouldn’t hear of it.
During this time she was enrolled at the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan and later honed her skills as a composer, all before the age of 16.
Alicia Keys was discovered when she was 13 years old through her affiliation with a youth organization Teens In Motion. At the time she was taking vocal lessons and was part of an all-girl band.
Her eventual manager, Jeff Robinson met Alicia through his brother, and after much prodding decided to work with, and mentor her in the music business.
On Choosing A Record Label
Recognizing Alicia’s prodigious talent, Jeff Robinson, decided to show off her piano playing skills during her auditions to record executives during their quest for a record deal.
It was rather quickly ascertained that she was the complete package and multiple music executives were soon clamoring for a deal with talented up and comer.
Alicia Keys’ choice in record labels was predicated on being offered a $26,00 baby grand piano by Columbia Records. The relationship did not last, however, and soon Alicia moved on with Clive Davis, releasing her first album with J Records.
Career As An Artiste
Alicia Keys signed her first recording contract when she was a mere 15 years old, right out of high school. Her debut album catapulted her to fame as a multi-award-winning, multiple platinum-selling artiste.
To understand the importance of the piano in Alicia Key’s life, one only needs to acknowledge that all her songs and performances feature a piano. For the tenth anniversary of her debut album, she launched a promotional concert tour entitled, Piano & I: An Intimate Evening with Alicia Keys and Her Piano.
A Piano-Centric Life
The piano has been an integral part of Alicia Keys’ life since she was a young child.
Alicia’s affiliation with the Yamaha brand is particularly strong. The company made her a custom purple piano to be used for her video, “Karma” in 2004. They also collaborated on a virtual piano in 2002 in commemoration of Yamaha’s 100th anniversary.
Her piano of choice is usually from their range and Alicia frequently opts for the Yamaha silent pianos, such as the C6S and C7S. She had said that she “loves the touch and the sound” of these pianos.
Alicia Keys is unquestionably a virtuoso. One can venture to say that music is in Alicia’s DNA. Her extraordinary talent was on full display when she wowed audience members and viewers of the 2019 Grammys when she played two pianos at once during her performance.
According to Alicia, she was inspired by musician Hazel Scott who was also a double-piano player.