ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 14:  Recording artist Alicia Keys performs during halftime at the NBA All-Star Game, part of 2010 NB
Jed Jacobsohn

When So So Def Records' Jermaine Dupri gave 17-year-old singer Alicia Keys a demo deal in 1998, putting her on the label's 12 Soulful Nights of Christmas, few could have predicted the teenager would become the global superstar she is today. But as Keys celebrates her 31st birthday, she can look back on 30 million albums sold worldwide, 25 million singles and a whopping 14 GRAMMY Awards, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Album and Best Rap Song. While you await the singer's fifth album sometime this year, listen to our Essential Alicia Keys Playlist, featuring classic cuts from past albums, guest appearances and some obscure gems to complete your collection.