She first played a piano when she was seven. She learned classical music of Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin (which was her favorite). She wrote her first song Butterflyz at the age of fourteen, which can be found or her debut album. It was her mother who supported her for a great part while developing her talents.
Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, was commercially successful. With it she won five Grammy Awards in 2002 (see 2002 in music). Because she wrote her own songs and played several instruments with technical prowess, consumers saw Keys as an original voice at a time when the musical marketplace was flooded with pop bands that were little more than an attractive front for the creative energies of others. As such, she established a large fanbase of devoted fans, making her one of the most popular artists of the early years of the twenty-first century. Critical reviews were mostly positive, though many found Keys derivative, with a sound reminiscent of 1970s soul singers like Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye with hip hop influences that were less original than similar blends from nu soul artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and D'Angelo.
Keys graduated valedictorian from the Professional Performing Arts School, a public high school in Manhattan. She attended Columbia University on scholarship briefly before devoting full time to her music career.
2003 is the year of release for her second album The Diary of Alicia Keys with the first released single You don't know my name.