It was the voice of one Alicia Keys, the Hell's Kitchen-raised singer/songwriter/pianist, all of 20 years old at the time. She had a stunningly impressive resume for her age - a classically-trained pianist who started writing songs at 14, the valedictorian of New York City's Professional Performing Arts School at 16, two failed record deals with Columbia and Arista that led to only one song buried on the Men in Black soundtrack by 18.
But she didn't give up, and with a rather respectable guardian angel in the music industry - super-producer Clive Davis, who built the J Records label out of the ashes of Arista - she recorded her first album, Songs in A Minor, a massive crossover hit in the summer of 2001. The album moved more than 6 million copies and spawned two Top 5 hits, including the chart-topping "Fallin'," which spent six weeks in the pole position, and "A Woman's Worth." Keys wrote or co-wrote nearly every tune herself alongside some top producers and songwriters, including Jermaine Dupri and Kandi Burruss. (One notable exception was her smoldering cover of "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?," the great B-side to Prince's "1999.") Keys' reputation was sealed the next year, when newspapers all over the world reprinted photos of her, topped with a black fedora and tightly braided hair, clutching the five Grammys her album won.
Now, ten years later, J Records is reissuing Songs in A Minor in a variety of formats in June. The first format, a two-disc deluxe edition, will feature the original album alongside a raft of as-yet-fully-unannounced bonus material. Keys' official site has confirmed that demos, alternate takes, remixes and live material will be included, and specifically mentioned several songs by name, including a remix of "A Woman's Worth" featuring rapper Nas, an alternate version of "Fallin'" from the soundtrack to Ali and previously unreleased cuts "Typewriter," "If I Was Your Woman (Original Funky Demo)" and "Butterflyz (The Drumline Mix)."
Serious fans are going to want to get their hands on a three-disc collector's edition, which takes the two CDs and puts them in specially-sized packaging alongside a new documentary on DVD of the making of the record. And vinyl-heads rejoice: a double-LP version will be released, too, marking the first time the album has ever been pressed to vinyl.
The celebration kicks off on June 28 in stores everywhere, and Keys will take the celebration a few steps further; tickets go on sale in May for Piano & I, a one-night-only performance at New York City's Beacon Theatre in which Keys will perform the album in its entirety and more. A special on Songs in A Minor is also planned to air on BET in June.