Born Alicia Augello Cook in Manhattan, NY, Alicia Keys was raised by a single mother in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York City.
Yet, despite these inauspicious beginnings, she became one of the best-known — and best-selling — R&B artists of all time. And that career kicked off when a friend of the family gifted the young Alicia a piano. And she credits this auspicious gift with changing the trajectory of her life.
“That’s why I wonder why one of my simple, silly misjudgments didn’t turn my life upside down,” she told Oprah in an exclusive interview back in 2004. “It’s like, ‘Oops’ — and your reality is completely different. I was blessed and, in a way, chosen to experience more of the world.”
And, she said, her musical style evolved through the years, too.
“I decided to discover the kinds of classical music that did move me—like Chopin, Satie, Beethoven, and certain Mozart songs. Mozart would play a counterpart with his left hand while using his right to mock it. It was blue, dark, shadowy—and it made me feel something. That’s when I realized music was inside me,” she said.
These days, as Alicia Keys chooses to be “more herself,” to coin a phrase from her recent audio documentary, she’s found that her hard work pays off. According to Celebrity Net Worth, her musical career and business investments have earned her an impressive $150 million net worth. And that’s to say nothing of the fortune she’s earned alongside her husband, music producer-turned-mogul Swizz Beatz.
It’s safe to say Keys is redefining what it means to be a “boss” every day.
Let’s take a look at all the ways Alicia Keys has built her empire.
Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.
Alicia Keys is one of the world’s best-selling R&B artists of all time. She’s sold more than 90 million records, won 15 Grammy Awards and won 17 NAACP Awards.
Black-Owned Business Support
In 2020, our sister site Blavity reported that Alicia Keys teamed up with the NFL to launch a $1 billion fund to support Black-owned businesses. Keys said the fund originated from an idea to help evolve protests into tangible action and support for Black communities. The singer said she hopes to continue to develop the fund over the years, eventually exceeding the initial $1 billion endowment. Although none of the additional partners beyond the NFL have been announced, the “Underdog” singer intends to create a multi-sector partner pool for the fund.
In 2009, Alicia Keys launched her own business called AK Worldwide. Newsday reported that the company handles all of Keys’ business ventures, especially those she pursues outside of the music industry.
Lifestyle & Beauty Brands
As AfroTech previously reported, Alicia Keys partnered with e.l.f. cosmetics to launch her own skincare line. Keys — known for her natural make-up-free looks — credits her new beauty line to wanting her fans to embrace their natural beauty.
Audio Meditation App
As AfroTech previously reported, Alicia Keys announced a partnership with self-care guru Dr. Deepak Chopra’s Chopra Global to launch an integrated 21-day meditation experience titled, “Activating the Divine Feminine: The Path to Wholeness,” which focuses on “collective healing through accessing The Divine Feminine” and restoring joy in users’ lives.
In 2013, Alicia Keys and her husband, Swizz Beatz, purchased a “5.42-acre, two-parcel estate from comedian Eddie Murphy in two separate but contiguous transactions that totaled $12.1 million per property records,” Variety revealed.
In 2021, Keys and Swizz Beatz put the house on the market for the bargain-basement price of $9.9 million. As of this writing, the house is still listed on the market, according to Zillow.
In 2010, she bought an apartment in New York City from Lenny Kravitz. She paid $14.5 million at the time. Over the years, she renovated it and kept putting it on the market until she finally sold it in 2012 for $17.95 million, Business Insider reports.
Other Business Ventures
In addition to all her current business ventures, Alicia Keys serves as a spokeswoman for Allstate Insurance. She also — along with Will Smith — led the 2021 YouTube Original Series slate for programming (as AfroTech previously reported), and created a digital songwriting course for aspiring artists with MasterClass.