If you wonder why former Clive Davis wonderchild Whitney Houston is such a mess these days, look no further than current Clive Davis wonderchild Alicia Keys, who has not only excellent pipes but jaw-dropping songwriting skills that she's been showcasing since age 14. Without the vocal conceit a diva like Whitney or Mariah would have about picking material that could detract attention away from them, Keys can impress on two fronts: her assimilation of old-school R&B and jazz into her own writing, and her giving breath to them. Her 2001 debut, Songs in A Minor, was a major triumph which she handily expanded upon with last year's Diary of Alicia Keys, broadening the hip-hop portion of the program without pissing off the Grammy nomination committee. And while that title portends a self-importance that has felled similar young artists (ever wonder why The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is still stuck in the first grade?), Keys is a talent who isn't even near her Waterloo yet.
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