Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook on January 25, 1981, in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan, in New York City, New York. An accomplished pianist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, author, and poet, Keys incorporates piano into a majority of her songs and often writes about love, heartbreak and female empowerment. She was inspired by several musicians, including Prince, Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. Keys' style is rooted in gospel and vintage soul music, supplemented by bass and programmed drumbeats. She heavily incorporates classical piano with R&B, soul and jazz into her music, but began experimenting with other genres, including pop and rock.
Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "Fallin'". Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. She became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.
Keys made guest appearances on several television series in the following years. She made her film debut in Smokin' Aces and went on to appear in The Nanny Diaries in 2007. Her third studio album, As I Am, was released in the same year and sold six million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. The following year, she appeared in The Secret Life of Bees, which earned her a nomination at the NAACP Image Awards. She released her fourth album, The Element of Freedom, on December 15, 2009. Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time.
For more info on her and her philanthropy, log on to her site at AliciaKeys.com.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Anita Baker is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter. To date, Baker has won eight Grammy Awards, and has four platinum albums and two gold albums to her credit.
Eddie Van Halen
Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen is a Dutch-American guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter and producer, best known as the lead guitarist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 . Eddie Van Halen, an unrelenting seeker of electronic chorded sounds and tones and rhythms, is widely known for his innovative performing and recording styles in rapid guitar playing, tapping, and high frequency feedback; he is also known for energetic and acrobatic stage performances. The All Music Guide has called him "undoubtedly one of the most influential, original, and talented rock guitarists of the 20th century." One other notable performance by Eddie is on Michael Jackson's 1982 hit titled "Beat It", where he plays the lead guitar and solo on the tune. He was invited to play by Quincy Jones.
Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938) is an American blues, soul, R&B, rock & roll, gospel and jazz singer and songwriter. James is the winner of four Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. In the 1950s and 1960s, she had her biggest success as a blues and R&B singer. She is best known for performing "At Last", which has been featured in movies, television shows, commercials, and web-streaming services. James has a contralto vocal range.
Aaron Neville (born January 24, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is an American soul and R&B singer. He made his debut in 1966 with the hit single "Tell It Like It Is", a Number One hit on the Billboard R&B charts. Neville did not chart again, however, until 1989, when he collaborated with Linda Ronstadt on three consecutive duets: "Don't Know Much", "All My Life", and "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby", of which the first two reached Number One on the Adult Contemporary charts. Neville has released more than 20 singles, including three Number Ones on the Adult Contemporary format, and a fourth on the R&B format. Aaron Neville has had a career as a solo artist and as one of The Neville Brothers. Of mixed African American and Native American heritage, his music also features Cajun and Creole influences.
Neil Leslie Diamond (born in Brooklyn, New York, New York), also known as the "Jewish Elvis", is one of America's most enduring and successful singer-songwriters. As a successful pop music performer, Diamond scored a number of hits worldwide in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. As of 2001 Diamond has 115 million records sold worldwide, including 48 million records in the U.S. In terms of Billboard chart success, he is the third most successful Adult Contemporary artist ever, ranking behind only Barbra Streisand and Elton John. Though his record sales declined somewhat after the 1980s, Diamond continues to tour successfully, and maintains a very loyal following. Diamond's songs have been recorded by a vast array of performers from many different musical genres. Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984, and in 2000 received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award.
Diamond starred in a remake of the Al Jolson classic The Jazz Singer in 1980, opposite Laurence Olivier and Lucie Arnaz. Though the movie was not a blockbuster hit at the box office, the soundtrack was a hugely successful album, spawning the 3 Top 10 singles "Love on the Rocks," "Hello Again," and "America." For his role in the film itself, Diamond became the first ever Winner of a Worst Actor Razzie Award, yet he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the same role.