Singer Alicia Keys recently sat down with her mother to discuss stories from her past and upbringing. The single mother raised the future Grammy winner alone in New York City after her father walked out on them. In a series titled Alicia Keys The Untold Stories, Keys and her mother went over her earlier years and how the two managed to make it together. In the clip, Keys and her mother go through photos and share intimate details of their lives together. The episode description reads, “Alicia reflects on her life and career after being named the number one certified, female R&B artist of the millennium. Taking us back to New York, where it all began, Alicia candidly interviews her mom about the joys & hardships of raising the artist as a single mother.” Terria Augello raised keys in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. Augello was a paralegal and part-time actress who had moved from Detroit to New York with Broadway aspirations.
While pursuing her dreams, Augello became pregnant. Noting that she had no healthcare or support system at the time, Augello said her lifesaver was Planned Parenthood. They helped her get her first pregnancy test. After this, Augello had to narrow down who Alicia’s father was. She tells Keys in the episode, “I had been dating.”
After putting together a calendar of the last few months, Alicia’s mom eventually pinned down a man named Craig Cook. When she told Cook, Augello says he came around and made her some promises. She believed they’d be a family. Unfortunately, he ended up leaving when Alicia was only 2. According to Augello, he returned to an ex-girlfriend and left her alone to raise their daughter.
The ‘Girl Is On Fire’ singer says she felt some anger towards him for a while. But, later in life, the singer realized how strong her mother was to take on so much. Watching her mother play both mother and father made the singer want to be strong like her mother. Due to her mother working so much to make ends meet, Alicia Keys had to learn to be tough early on. According to keys, she had to walk the streets alone, sometimes coming home at 3 am alone.
In the episode, Alicia asked her mother when she realized it would just be the two of them? According to her mother, it was always very clear to her that it was about her and her daughter. “Craig was never going to step in there,” she said. Alicia reflected on the rift between her and dad, wondering why there was not more of a connection. Alicia said she eventually built up walls to not deal with those emotions.
In 2020, Alicia shared a letter she wrote to her father when she was 13 years old. Keys did not address her father as dad or Craig in the letter. The R&B singer began the letter with the date of July 10, 1994, where she spilled her soul, saddened that most of her heart was bitter towards him. Keys explained to her father how she didn’t care much about him, nor did she want the phone calls, letters, or fake acts to pretend he cared. “To tell you the truth, I don’t much care what you do. I don’t much care if we never speak again.’ Alicia Keys was shocked to find out years later that her father had kept the letter.
According to Alicia, she and Craig are in a better place now. “I would say in the process of growing up, you realize you’ve been holding on to anger. I was angry then and am sure I had the right to be angry, but if you hold on to all this anger, the only person you’re hurting is you.”