Music » Critics' Choices

Alicia Keys

Sunday, August 18, at Starlight Theatre.

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With a surname like Keys, young Alicia was obligated to become either a locksmith or a piano player. At the age of seven, she opted for the latter, practicing religiously and writing her first song, "Butterflyz," at age fourteen. Six years later, she included that composition on her debut album Songs in A Minor, which combines her classical, jazz and hip-hop influences. Songs in A Minor even managed to enter the charts at No. 1, once again proving the uncanny and slightly scary power of a performance on Oprah. Just about anyone who turned on a radio last year should be familiar with the number she played in The Mighty Oprah's presence, "Fallin'," a slice of desperately longing neo-soul that netted her Grammys for Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song in addition to Best R&B Album for Songs in A Minor. Keys needs to be careful, though, because of the other Grammy she won -- history has rarely been kind to the Best New Artist.

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