When we’re talking about soulful R&B stars whose message is genuine and whose talent speaks for itself, nobody does it better than Alicia Keys! Born Alicia Augello Cook in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, Alicia first rose to prominence in the early 2000s, when her debut record Songs in A Minor brought us hits like "Fallin’" and "Girlfriend." But even though Alicia has changed a lot since those early days, she’s remained the same smooth superstar we fell in love with back in the day. There are still so many things about the girl that we can’t help but adore! When you combine her crazy work ethic with her sweet and grounded nature, her respect and understanding of others with her killer style, her courage and honesty with all the charity work she does, and her untouchable performance skills with her voice sent from heaven, it’s hard not to become a total fangirl!
15 She Worked Hard To Get To Where She Is
You can’t blame somebody for being born with a silver spoon in hand, but we can’t help having respect for people who have to work their way up from the bottom. After all, it takes courage, discipline, and persistence! It doesn’t seem like money was flowing freely for her family, but Alicia still did everything possible to make her dreams come true as a child. From a young age, she enrolled in music and dance classes and began studying and practicing classical piano when she was seven. By the time she was twelve, Alicia enrolled in the Professional Performing Arts School, and there she majored in choir and also started writing songs. It didn’t stop there though! She participated in after-school programs, networked, obtained a record deal, lost it, and repeated the process until she made it to the top. If you ask us, that’s the kind of thing that really deserves a #goals hashtag!
14 She Honors Her Roots
Many artists seem to forget who they are and where they’ve come from once they get a taste of the fame and fortune whirlpool, but Alicia has managed to stay humble and true to her roots. In particular, Alicia has a lot of praise for and constantly honors her mom, Terria Joseph, who raised her as a single parent after she split up from Alicia’s father when Alicia was two. Alicia remembers the sacrifices her mom made for her and is clear and honest about the fact that without Terria’s support, she wouldn’t be where she is today. How we love a girl who loves her mom! Back in 2015, Alicia actually dedicated the sweetest Instagram post to Terria after the two attended a gala together. “Thank you for all the nights you worked overtime to make the ends and beginnings meet,” she wrote after sharing her award with her mama. Bless!
13 She’s Polite In Interviews
The only thing worse than a person who is rude to their waiter is a celebrity who is rude to the interviewer (unless the interviewer totally deserves it!). Some celeb interviews are actually painful to watch because there’s so much ego in the room, but if you’ve ever watched an Alicia Keys interview, you’ll know the girl is as sweet in real life as she is in her songs. She always answers questions with respect for the asker and just seems like such a genuine person to have a chat with. You have to love that! She never loses her cool, which let’s face it, would be difficult when you get asked the same questions a million times and you’re dealing with a brutal schedule. Watching Alicia communicate with people just makes you want to be friends with her, and that isn’t something you can say about a lot of other superstars!
12 She Isn’t Perfect But Rocks It Anyway
There’s so much pressure on young people to be perfect these days, so we love anybody who has flaws and isn’t afraid of them. Alicia has always been open about her insecurities, and the physical things about herself that she was born with but make her uncomfortable, and that kind of conversation does a world of good for impressionable fans who feel inadequate because they aren’t perfect in every way. It’s widely known that Alicia has acne-prone skin and struggles with bumps and impurities just like everyone else, and we love her because she actually discusses it and talks about ways of dealing with it instead of photoshopping herself and pretending that she’s above human problems like that. Let’s get it straight though—skin problems or not, Alicia still has radiant beauty and we secretly could just stare at her all day. But she isn’t perfect, and we love it!
11 She Also Writes Children’s Books
Did you know Alicia Keys is a children’s book author? She wrote a book called Blue Moon: From the Journals of Mama Mae & LeeLee. Alicia worked on the story with a few other writers and the tale was inspired by her own childhood. One of the themes is the special relationship between a young girl and her grandmother. Gosh, could she be any cuter?! The book centers on little LeeLee, who has just moved to the city and needs help adjusting to her new surroundings. Her grandmother, Mama Mae, helps LeeLee by telling her a story about a Native American girl called Abey, who had a magical adventure of her own as she tried to adjust to her own surroundings. So we’ve got magic, family values, and a celebration of different cultures with both text and illustrations worked on by a grammy-award winning artist. Too good to be true!
10 She Goes Makeup-Free
Though Alicia’s decision to face the world without makeup is fairly recent, we are absolutely loving it! Thanks to Alicia, more girls have the confidence to be themselves. Stating that she was tired of the judgment that women receive on a daily basis for the way they look (we hear that, sister!), Alicia wrote this on Lenny Letter: "Women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you're plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked." So it’s all about empowering herself and feeling like she is worth it, no matter what’s on her face. Somebody needs to plaster this message on a billboard!
9 She’s A Philanthropist
Alicia is responsible for her fair share of charity work, which we hardly ever hear about! In an effort to stop HIV/AIDS in Africa, Alicia and her husband Swizz Beatz visited a village in Soweto, South Africa back in 2010. They initially went there to film a woman who is HIV positive and raise awareness for the issue, but while they were there, they fell in love with the woman’s entire village. So what did they do? You guessed it! They adopted the entire village. This means that they helped to build schools for the children of the village, and organized training and other forms of education to help the adults of the village get in the position where they could help themselves. It’s so nice to see people use their power for something good! Alicia is also an ambassador for Keep A Child Alive and the We Are Here movement. Inspiring stuff!
8 She’s Honest About Her Struggles
It isn’t just her skin problems that Alicia Keys is honest about! Being a celebrity doesn’t exclude somebody from other kinds of struggles that people face on the daily, and Alicia is totally honest about the tough times she goes through, which in turn helps fans get through similar struggles! Following the death of her grandmother, on whom her children’s book was based, Alicia’s family became super dependent on her, and the stress of it all lead her to nearly have a nervous breakdown. In order to escape, Alicia traveled to Egypt where she stayed for three weeks and regrouped her thoughts. Alicia said this of the experience: “It was a very difficult time that I was dealing with, and it just came to the point where I really needed to, basically, I just needed to run away, honestly. And I needed to get as far away as possible.” So honest and powerful!
7 She Writes Songs About Important Issues
Don’t get us wrong—we’re not above enjoying a good song without a message purely for its catchiness. But the songs which have strong lyrics about something important are necessary too, and Alicia Keys is the queen of important message songs! Her recent hit of her 2015 record Here, entitled "Holy War", is definitely going to get some people changing the way they think and inspire them to take action. With lyrics like “Maybe we could love somebody/Maybe we could care a little more” belted out with Alicia’s goddess-like voice and haunting melody, it’s hard to not care! Aside from writing songs about choosing love over hate, she’s also penned lyrics about how money doesn’t buy happiness, about how we need to talk about the world’s issues more, and about how women are perfect just the way they are. These are themes we’ve heard before, but they sound so much better coming from her!
6 She’s Also A Good Actress
Somebody definitely went overboard with the talent ingredient when they were making Alicia Keys! Aside from being a musician, songwriter, vocalist, author, and public speaker, Alicia has also dabbled in a few acting projects. And the thing is, she’s actually a really good actress! It can be awkward to watch a singing superstar who wants to be an actor but just doesn’t have the knack for it, but that’s not the case with Alicia. We thoroughly recommend watching The Secret Life of Bees, in which Alicia plays the feisty June Boatwright. She also guest starred on a few series, including Empire, in which she played Skye Summers, and American Dreams where she played Fontella Bass. We wouldn’t want Alicia to give up music and turn permanently to acting, because let’s be honest, we need her in the music industry. But if she wants to continue unleashing her acting talent, that’s fine with us!
5 She Balances Family And Work
Alicia became a mother for the first time in 2010 when she gave birth to son Egypt Daoud Dean, and again in 2014 when she had her second son, Genesis Ali Dean, both with husband Swizz Beatz. We’re sure she has help looking after the kiddies, but we still love how she balances having a family with working like crazy! So many women feel like they have to choose between being a mom or having the career of their dreams, so when people like Alicia Keys come along and have kids despite being successful women, it’s definitely a good thing—it lets other women know that they can do it too! Alicia has said that being a mom has changed the way she views time, and now understands that every second is super important. She has that right! She’s also stated that being a mom has inspired her creatively, which is lovely.
4 She Is The Definition Of Career Goals
We look up to Alicia for so many things, and perhaps the biggest of all is the success she’s had in her career. As we mentioned, she wasn’t handed a record deal and all those top hits and awards on a silver platter, so we absolutely respect the awe-inspiring career Alicia has carved for herself. When you count up all the Grammys, Video Music Awards, and BET Awards Alicia has won, not to mentioned other less-known awards including NAACP Image Awards and World Music Awards, she has actually earned herself over 100 wins, and over 290 nominations. That’s an insane level of success and establishes her as one of the top twenty most-awarded artists of all time. It’s achievements like this that make Alicia the perfect role model for young girls. Thanks to her, girls can see the kinds of careers they can have, rather than the kinds of booty they can have!
3 She Has Longevity
Another thing we adore about Alicia is that she isn’t at all gimmicky, and has a certain authenticity that ensures us she’s the real deal, and in it for the long run. Rather than coming up with quirky ways to make headlines and be the talk of the world for a hot minute, Alicia lets her work and talent speak for itself. She may not be the most-talked-about star on the planet, but since she’s been at it for a good seventeen years and is still at the top of her game, it’s safe to say that her slow-and-steady approach is working! It’s clear to anybody who’s ever listened to Alicia Keys that music is her passion, her calling, and her life, and definitely not a way to gain status or money. This is totally her thing, in other words, and she’s absolutely left her mark on the music industry forever!
2 She Is Proud Of Who She Is
Different standards of beauty come in and out all the time, but we do not see Alicia Keys changing herself every five minutes to fit in with the latest trend. Instead, Alicia is all about accepting herself for who she is, rocking the things that make her unique, and flowing with what she feels is right rather than succumbing to what everyone else is doing. That’s actually quite an achievement in today’s world and in the public eye because we’re pretty sure that Alicia would have faced a whole lot of pressure to be what society thinks is sexy or to look like somebody whom record execs think would sell the most albums. But through it all, Alicia stands her ground and flaunts the hair she wants, the clothes she wants, and the style she wants, whether that includes makeup or not. How could you not be inspired by that?!
1 She's Got Epic Talent
We saved the most obvious reason for last, but it glues together everything else and is really the essence of who Alicia Keys is. Her talent is our absolute favorite thing about her! Yup, she’s a nice person and a positive role model and a great mama, and we love her for all of that, but at the end of the day, it’s her soulful, powerful music that drew us to her in the first place. Her musical talent is a unique blend of that husky voice that is immediately identifiable on any record and can reach a range of notes so easily and beautifully, her enchanting piano skills, her ability to write life-changing songs, and of course, the way she performs it all with so much passion and authority. When you think about it, Alicia Keys is like a wonder of the world who truly seems much more than human, and we couldn't be bigger fans!