Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), better known by her stage name Alicia Keys, is an American recording artist, musician and actress. She was raised by a single mother in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States. At age seven, Keys began to play classical music on the piano. She attended Professional Performing Arts School and graduated at 16 as valedictorian. She later attended Columbia University before dropping out to pursue her music career.