MAKERS UK Cause Spotlight: Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys grew up with a working mother, a paralegal, who “worked hard … worked long” and who gave her daughter the indefatigable work ethic which, combined with her extraordinary musical talent, has gained her an enormous following. Having won 15 Grammy awards – amongst countless other music awards – she’s seen five of her albums top the US charts, selling 35 million albums globally.

Keys believes she has “been put on this earth to spread light,” aiming to “give women strength through [her] songs, through [her] actions.” Keys succeeds at this through her music and philanthropy. The sheer magnetism of her music spreads joy while also inspiring young girls to strive to achieve their ambitions.

Keys is also spreading light and strength through her actions: she is the co-founder and Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organisation which works towards ending AIDS for children and their families. A vital and monumentally worthwhile aim, but no mean feat to achieve. The statistics are striking: there are 2.6 million children with HIV globally, 150,000 of whom were infected with the virus in 2015 alone. Half of the children with HIV are not receiving the treatment they need, and a staggering 25 million children have been orphaned by AIDS.

In response to this, Keep a Child Alive provides care, support and nutrition to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa and India, working to combat the physical, social and economic impacts of HIV.

Keys is passionate about this cause: the end of AIDS is not a given, but she is committed to a future without AIDS and the long journey it will take to get there. Keep a Child Alive strives to eliminate AIDS by working towards three goals: no new infections, no barriers to treatment and no discrimination. The charity also aims to remove the damaging stigma surrounding AIDS.

Keep a Child Alive is not the extent of Keys’ global outreach: she has harnessed her immense global standing and popularity in order to use her voice to amplify the voices of unheard and unrepresented people. In 2014, she founded the We Are Here movement to engage and educate her audience about issues that prevent equality and justice globally. The movement brings together organisations, causes and campaigns, to highlight issues and generate change.

Keys espouses the modest hope that, “the things I do or the things I say might give one person, whoever you are, the possibility to say, ‘actually I can, actually I can.’” Keys has undoubtedly inspired thousands of people, and, at the age of 35, still has many more years to touch the lives of a myriad more. 

NEXT: Get to Know Alicia Keys »

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