10+ Random Facts About Alicia Keys Fans Didn't Know

When it came time for the 2020 Grammys to choose a host, Alicia Keys was the only choice.

After all, she's a 15-time winner herself. She's also a true talent and class act, having been taught classical piano at age seven.

Did you know that she once almost signed a record deal just for a piano? For more on the singer, keep reading.

1. She grew up in one of New York's toughest neighborhoods.

Life wasn't easy for the star growing up.

While she was in her father's life, she was raised by her single mother, Terri. This meant that they scraped by.

She also saw a lot of things that most people don't see at such a young age.

"My neighborhood was porno hell—prostitutes everywhere," she told Oprah.

This caused her to promise herself that no matter "how difficult it gets, I will never do that."

2. Alicia Keys isn't her real name.

It's Alicia Augello-Cook!

She chose Keys due to her piano background, but Alicia originally wanted her last name to be Wild.

However, her mom intervened. "She said, 'It sounds like you're a stripper,"' said Keys.

3. Early on in her career, she encountered an uncomfortable photoshoot where she felt taken advantage of.

"When you're trying to get your music heard and yourself out there, it's rare that you get big opportunities, and this one was awesome," Keys recalled in an interview with q host Tom Power.

But once the photographer asked Keys' team to leave the studio, he started asking her to do things that she wasn't comfortable with.

"It was like, 'Can you just kind of lift this a little bit? Can you pull this down a little bit? Can you open this a little bit?'" remembered Keys.

"I'm 19 and I'm like, 'Um, this doesn't feel right.'"

While the photographer never physically touched Keys, she did feel violated and taken advantage of.

It was also a turning point for her, as she became determined to honor her true, authentic self.

4. She has boycotted makeup.

This is something she decided to do after going bare-faced during a photoshoot.

"I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt," she shared in an essay.

5. She once called Prince to get permission to cover one of his songs.

This was a nerve-wracking experience for the star, who wrote about it in her memoir, More Myself. She also recalled it to Rolling Stone.

"Trying to pick up the phone knowing that you had to convince your favorite person on the planet, who often says no to his compositions being redone," she said.

But, as expected, the late Prince was so gracious.


6. He invited her to Paisley Park to perform the song.

There, he had engraved piano, candles, doves, and the outfits from Purple Rain.

"My jaw was on the floor the entire time." We're so jealous!

7. She's known her husband, Swizz Beatz, since they were teenagers.

Ironically enough, the singer wasn't too fond of Swizz when they were teenagers.

But that all changed when they reconnected in 2008.

8. She's been accused of breaking up her husband's previous marriage.

That's because Beatz was allegedly still married to his first wife, Mashonda Tifrere, at the time.

Tifrere even accused Keys of "destroying a family" in a lengthy Twitter post.

"If you are reading this Alicia, let me start by saying, you know what you did," she began.

"You know the role you played and you know how you contributed to the ending of my marriage."

Drama! To this day, Keys denies any truth to this.

9. She wrote "If I Ain’t Got You" based on the death of R&B singer, Aaliyah.

The singer was tragically killed in a plane crash.

When Alicia heard the news while on a plane, she told The Guardian that the lyrics just "poured out" of her.

Surprisingly, she almost gave the song to Christina Aguilera.

She never did since her record team intervened. It's a good thing they did since it's one of her greatest hits.

“It took me 300 different ways to get to what it sounds like today,” she told The Guardian.

10. She began learning classical piano at age seven.

But since Alicia and her mom were so poor, she actually begged to quit her lessons.

Thankfully, her mom intervened. "My mom would tell me, 'Quit what you like, but you're not quitting piano.' She didn't care what it cost."

11. Her song, "Fallin'" was banned from singing competitions around the world.

That's because so many reality contestants wanted to sing it for their auditions.

Simon Cowell even said that it's the most ruined song ever!

12. She signed with Columbia Records when she was just 15.

Not many can say that!

But the singer has admitted that she almost made a big mistake when signing the major deal.

She almost signed on the dotted line just to get a brand new baby grand piano!

“My manager’s like, “Whoa, wait a minute," she told Oprah. “[But] to me, that white baby grand piano was everything.”

In the end, she got a similar piano and good negotiations thanks to her manager.