Alicia Keys has built a hugely successful career as a solo artist, but the Grammy Award-winning performer could have gone down a very different path had she remained a member of any of the three girl groups she joined early on, including one you may have heard of: 3LW.
The “No One” singer sat down on June 17 to participate in Wired’s “Web’s Most Searched Questions” series on YouTube and dropped the 3LW bombshell as she made her way through her pre-“Fallin'” musical journey.
At 1:35, Keys answers the question “What band was Alicia Keys in?” and reminisces on her first band, or attempt at one, as a kid. “My first band that I was in was just four of my homegirls from my neighborhood, and I don’t even think we got to the place where we had a name.”
The 39-year-old “More Myself: A Journey” author then revealed that she could have been one of the titular “Little Women” of the early 2000s girl group 3LW (short for 3 Little Women). “Then my second band that I was in was kind of like one of these projects that are put together by people and they heard I sang and they were like, ‘Oh, maybe you can be a part of it,'” she said. “It didn’t work out with me, but eventually they came out, and I think they name was Little Women, but I was never a part of that because I moved on and they moved on and that didn’t work out for me.”
In 1999, the group eventually found its original trio in Naturi Naughton, Adrienne Bailon, and Kiely Williams, who released hit singles “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)” and “Playas Gon’ Play,” before Naughton’s departure in 2002. Williams and Bailon continued on as a duo before eventually replacing Naughton with singer Jessica Benson in 2003, the same year that Williams and Bailon rose to fame as half of Disney girl group The Cheetah Girls with Raven-Symoné and Sabrina Bryant. 3LW officially disbanded in 2007.
Keys also discussed her attempt to form a band at 14 with a few friends, and they specialized in one song and one song only.
“Then I had another band that we were, like, 14, that I was in and was our homegirls from school, and we were always together at the PAL in Harlem on 124th Street singing Groove Theory’s ‘Tell Me’,” she laughed. “That was our song that we sang like 6,000 times a day trying to prepare for anybody that could maybe open a door for us.”
Although none of her girl band attempts made it very far, the “Diary” singer says her journey back then taught her that she was better off as a solo artist. “So nothing really happened with any of the bands that I was in, but that’s OK, I’m grateful for them all. There was deep sisterhood there. Eventually I, you know, found my way to realize that I wasn’t meant to be in a group.”
During the interview, Keys also gave props to an important figure that helped shape her career, her childhood piano teacher, who also taught her oldest son, 9-year-old Egypt Dean. “My first piano teacher, her name is Margaret Pine, and she actually taught me from 7 or 6 when I started first playing all the way until about 18. She also taught my oldest son piano too.”