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Cover story: Alicia Keys — Baptism By Fire

By// S. Tia Brown

When Alicia Augello Cook, aka Alicia Keys, opens her mouth, the world listens. But that wasn’t always the case. At the turn of the century, Keys, who hails from the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City, was focused on getting out of the inferno. And she did just that when her debut album, Songs in A Minor (2001), sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, and morphed her from a cute around-the-way girl survivor in braids into a thriving woman with an eight-figure brand.

Four hit albums later, the 31-year- old is scorching everything she touches in a way that rings true to her spirit. And it’s reflected in her latest effort, Girl on Fire (out Nov. 27). According to the now married mom (her husband is producer Swizz Beatz), the project was meant to wreak havoc on mediocrity. In a candid interview with JET, Keys talks about why burning up the charts is only a part of her purpose. Nowadays, it’s all about focusing on the future.

The November 26 issue of JET magazine, on newsstands Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.

JET: In recent interviews you’ve shared that being “on fire” changed everything about you. How has this philosophy influenced your career?

KEYS: When I finally identified how I’d like to participate in the business world, it really opened up for me. I started my company AK Worldwide and our guiding light is that we’re in the business of inspiration. For so many years I’d been approached with different deals but sometimes it was like doing things because it was a check— that didn’t resonate.

TO READ MORE ABOUT ALICIA KEYS’ FIERY HUSTLE, PICK UP THE NEW ISSUE OF JET MAGAZINE, ON SALE TODAY.