Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City in January 1981. She is of mixed heritage.
Alicia Keys has some Jamaican roots but she is not Jamaican. She may be considered part-Jamaican as a by-product of her Jamaican-born father and could be eligible to claim Jamaican citizenship by virtue of this fact.
Alicia Keys is bi-racial. Her mother is a Caucasian Italian-American with Sicilian ancestry, a former paralegal and part-time actress. Her former flight attendant father is Black and of Jamaican descent.
Growing up in the rough neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen New York, Alicia Keys was surrounded by people who looked like her owing to the diversity of the area.
Although Alicia is bi-racial, she considers herself black; important for her self-identity. She does, however, acknowledge both sides of her heritage.
Keys grew up in a single-parent home and an only child, with her primary caregiver being her mother. Alicia’s mother, Teresa, was instrumental in laying the foundation of her musical career, overseeing Alicia becoming a classically trained pianist in addition to her talent as a vocalist and actress.
It is reported that her mother struggled to provide for the multi-talented performer, at one time both of them living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment.
Alicia has stated that her parents did not have a relationship. Her father, Craig, reportedly abandoned the family when Alicia was two years old, and this contributed to her having a tough upbringing.
Craig was absent for most of her life, however, the two managed to reconcile in time for him to walk her down the aisle at her wedding to Swizz Beats in 2010.
Recently in 2020, they reunited over a family tragedy, the death of Alicia Keys’ paternal grandmother. Alicia was very close to her grandmother and penned a tribute to her Nana on her Youtube channel.
Ties With Jamaica
Alicia Keys has shown an appreciation for Jamaican culture via her collaborations with Jamaican artistes Protoje, Chronixx, and Cham, among others.
In 2012, the multi-Grammy award-winning, platinum recording artiste also recorded sections of her fifth album in Jamaica.
In 2015 Alicia caused quite the stir when she recreated the country’s most famous poster, that of model Sintra Arunte-Bronte in a promotion for the Jamaica Tourist Board. Sharing the image on her Instagram account to her millions of followers, Alicia captioned the post, “I always wanted to redo this 1972 classic!”
There is no denying Alicia’s multiculturalism – a mix of Italian, Jamaican and American. She has clearly embraced this heritage and takes pride in acknowledging this as an important part of her identity.