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Words by Adisa Banjoko

Alicia Keys, born Alicia Aguello Cook, began playing the piano when she was seven and learned classical music by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin.

Keys enrolled in the Professional Performing Arts School at the age of 12, where she majored in choir and began writing songs at the age of 14. She graduated in three years as valedictorian at the age of 16.

Peter Edge, an A&R for Arista records, was quoted seeing her perform in her early years.

“I had never met a young R&B artist with that level of musicianship. So many people were just singing on top of loops and tracks, but she had the ability, not only to be part of hip-hop, but also to go way beyond that.”

Alicia Keys went on to sell more than 12 million records and was recently noted for her moving singing at Whitney Houston’s home going services.

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