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She connected with the cultural and racial diversity in the neighborhood, where she expanded upon her musical exploration, and her character was also solidified.
"Harlem raised me in a lot of ways," Keys remarked.
Although she did not like to speak about her father in order to not feed stereotypes, Keys remarked in 2001: "I'm not in contact with him. I walked the streets alone, I rode the trains alone, I came home at three in the morning alone, that was what I did." "The city had a huge influence on me because it's such a diverse place.
The album was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Fallin'" and selling over 16 million copies worldwide. Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles "You Don't Know My Name", "If I Ain't Got You", and "Diary", and selling eight million copies worldwide.
Inspired by the film Philadelphia, Keys wrote her first song about her departed grandfather on her piano by age 12.