Saturday, July 14, 2001

Alicia Keys debuted at #1 with Songs in A Minor

Songs in A Minor

Alicia Keys

Released: June 5, 2001

Charted: July 14, 2001

Peak: 13 US, 16 RB, 6 UK, 2 CN, 3 AU

Sales (in millions): 6.21 US, 0.9 UK, 15.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Piano & I
  2. Girlfriend (with Jermaine Dupri) (5/26/01, 24 UK, 73a RB)
  3. How Come You Don’t Call Me (3/23/02, 58a US, 26 UK, 28 RB)
  4. Fallin’ (5/5/01, 1 US, 3 UK, 1 RB, 24 AC, sales: 0.5 m, air: 0.6 m)
  5. Troubles
  6. Rock Wit’ U
  7. A Woman’s Worth (10/13/01, 6a US, 18 UK, 3 RB)
  8. Jane Doe
  9. Goodbye
  10. The Life
  11. Mr. Man
  12. Never Felt This Way (Interlude)
  13. Butterflyz
  14. Why Do I Feel So Sad?
  15. Caged Bird (Outro)
  16. Lovin’ U

Total Running Time: 63:04


4.124 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)

Quotable: Songs in A Minor made a significant impact…catapulting the young singer/songwriter to the front of the neo-soul pack.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“She may be beautiful, but Alicia Keys is a musician first and foremost.” AZ “In retrospect, it was the idea of Alicia Keys that was as attractive as the record, since soul fans were hungering for a singer/songwriter who seemed part of the tradition without being as spacy as Macy Gray or as hippie mystic as Erykah Badu while being more reliable than Lauryn Hill.” AMG

Keys had recorded much of the album in a deal with Columbia Records, but they rejected it. WK Clive Davis, formerly of Arista Records but now the label head for J Records, signed her and gave her “great independence in creating the album she wanted to release.” NRR

His instincts proved correct as “Songs in A Minor made a significant impact upon its release in the summer of 2001, catapulting the young singer/songwriter to the front of the neo-soul pack.” AMG “Reviewers were quick to point out the sophistication and assurance with which the young Keys realized the sound on this album. Her unaffected vocals were capable of expressing feelings from heartbreak to new love and from righteous women’s empowerment to elegant, stylish yearning.” NRR “Critics and audiences were captivated by a 19-year-old singer whose taste and influences ran back further than her years, encompassing everything from Prince to smooth ‘70s soul, even a little Billie Holiday.” AMG

She “described her influences on the album as a ‘fusion of my classical training, meshed with what I grew up listening to,’ which included the jazz from her mother’s record collection, along with the classic R&B and hip-hop that was prevalent in her New York City neighborhood.” NRR She “plants herself firmly behind the piano keys on her debut, unlike many of the booty-waggin’ junior divas who are crowding the R&B videoscape these days. Though many of the tracks on Songs in A Minor are embellished with adolescent angst, …[her] substantial, gorgeously soul-drenched alto putties the cracks between notes with astonishing ease.” AZ

“She swoops and soars over the spicy, flamenco-fueled melody that opens Mr. Mann, one of the many winning tracks gathered here. And she digs deep into a remake of the beloved Prince B-side, How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore? packing more heat into her melismatic wails than most singers twice her age.” AZ

She also “had style to spare – elegant, sexy style accentuated by how she never oversang, giving the music a richer feel.” AMGFallin’, the album’s first single, showcases Keys at her best. She wails plaintively and passionately over rolling blues chords, in the tradition of the greats that this young talent clearly wants to align herself with – Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Aretha Franklin.” AZ

That song also demonstrates how her presentation “was rich enough to compensate for some thinness in the writing – though it was a big hit, … [it] doesn’t have much body to it – which is a testament to Keys’ skills as a musician.” AMG “And, the fact is, even though there are some slips in the writing, there aren’t many, and the whole thing remains a startling assured, successful debut that deserved its immediate acclaim and is already aging nicely.” AMG

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First posted 3/29/2008; last updated 4/20/2022.

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