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"It’s still early, but it’s looking potentially like a big record."
——Tom Corson, J Records

ALICIA KEYS IN ON J RECORDS BOW

Buzzers Are Buzzing As 20-Year-Old Soulstress Is…Er…Soulstressing
Some things are worth waiting for. And if you’re 20-year-old R&B soulstress Alicia Keys, the wait amounts to almost one-fifth of your life.

Keys’ debut album, Songs in A Minor, may have been four years in the making and taken her through three labels, but the result—released Tuesday (6/26) on J Records—is beginning to pay off.

Initially signed to Columbia when she was just 16, Keys first made noise on the Men in Black soundtrack in ’97, followed by an appearance on Jermaine Dupri’s 12 Soulful Nights of Christmas in ’98. The first change of labels followed when then-Arista/now-J A&R VP Peter Edge brought her to the attention of Clive Davis, who placed her on the LaFace/Arista soundtrack to Shaft. She landed at her third label last year when Keys followed Davis to his new venture with BMG.

Now that the album’s out, things are happening fast. Keys has already appeared on Oprah and The Tonight Show (an unusual feat for a new artist), with more promotional appearances being lined up.

The album’s first single, "Fallin’," which follows the mix-show/club setup track "Girlfriend," is blowing up at Urban and Crossover radio and is now crossing to Rhythm. The video is #1 at BET and Buzzworthy.com at MTV, while MTV2 is slamming it 40 times a week and VH1 is also on board. News pieces are expected in the next week on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

"It’s still early, but it’s looking potentially like a big record," says J Records Executive VP Worldwide Marketing Tom Corson. "We plan to continue to have a high visibility on television—she’s very telegenic. Our targets include morning TV, and then we’ll lead into a hopefully strong slate of fall appearances—and an ever-more lustrous shine to Clive’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, of course."

Keys has just been confirmed for a tour with Maxwell to run from August through October. A late-fall solo tour is likely. Before that, Keys is off to Europe for showcases to build international interest.

With 350k in the streets, J Records VP Sales Dave Yeskel is very optimistic. "We bought into a number of in-store play campaigns and went for very high visibility with circulars."

Keeping accounts informed of the unusually strong press is also "key": "We serviced the Oprah video to all the major buyers right after her performance, which helped generate a lot of excitement," Yeskel notes. "We’re just keeping up with all the press, communicating that excitement to our branches and accounts and reinforcing that we have a major star in the making. That, and making sure Clive’s cravat is properly pressed."

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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