I was in elementary school when Alicia Keys released her debut album Songs in A Minor on June 5th, 2001. She was one of the first R&B singers of the 2000s-era that I paid attention to at the time, partially because she constantly exuded confidence in her press and music and partially because her piano-driven take stood out during a serious pop-saturated moment. While many followed suit of the 90s Girl Power trend and tried to speak to it, it never felt nearly as authentic as it did through Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor and much of her subsequent work. Maybe that’s because she had a young voice (a point of criticism by some press members), but as I revisit the album and songs like “Fallin'”, “Girlfriend” and “How Come You Don’t Call Me”, the retro simplicity that underscored the record speaks to me as much now as it did then. Her sound has evolved plenty since then (her latest single, “In Common”, has a slinky jungle vibe that may very well emerge as a Summer 2016 contender), but I’ll always cherish what Songs in A Minor meant to me as a young girl.