The 32-year-old singer is classically trained and she began playing the piano at the tender age of seven.
She was exposed to classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven through her studies at performing arts schools in New York.
By the time her first album Songs in a Mirror was released in 2001 Alicia was already an extremely accomplished musician.
Apparently her rich knowledge served as a challenge to her managers in the early stages of her career.
“People definitely tried to push me in different directions for sure, but I think it was mostly, now that I’m looking back on it, I think it was just mostly that most people never really saw a girl like me before,” she detailed during an interview with VH1 Storytellers. “They didn’t really know a girl like me.”
According to Alicia, executives had trouble marketing her.
Her musicianship was so cultivated it was hard to package her as typical pop songstress.
“I was very familiar with the street, had a lot of street knowledge, very clear, very like rough around the edges,” she explained.
“But at the same time I studied classical music so that didn’t make sense to begin with. And then I loved everything from Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z to Nina Simone, and Patrice Rushen and Donny Hathaway and Erik Satie and Chopin and everything in the middle so it’s very confusing, there was no kind of direct path or prototype for anyone to follow.
So I think all they knew to do was to kind of push me as close to maybe something they saw that worked before. And so that’s why they did kind of [say], ‘Why don’t you get with this producer?’ or ‘Why don’t you have this writer write for you?’, all these kinds of things as opposed to really encouraging me to be an individual.”
Alicia’s fifth studio album Girl on Fire was released last year.