Alicia Keys, Melanie Fiona

Consistency isn't always mundane. Consistency can have some serious soul.

And Alicia Keys has been consistently enthralling millions for just shy of a decade. Indeed, Keys' four studio albums, along with the chart-topping album from her virtuoso 2005 MTV Unplugged performance, have become cultural touchstones that will help music fans of the future more fully understand what sounds and vibes moved the masses when the millennium was young and actual CDs were still stocked on record store shelves. And she's as good a sample as any: Over this decade, Keys has successfully blended her classical piano training with her respect for the R&B and soul that her heroes, such as Stevie Wonder, so expertly performed to form a hybrid that humbly acknowledges the past while progressively forging ahead.

But if Keys has found ways to fuse certain eras of music to form a distinctive sound, then Melanie Fiona, the young opening act for much of Keys' tour, has fully transported herself into the 1960s with her brilliant debut album, The Bridge. By reviving the urgency and spirited sensuality of the sonic style from the Stax- and Motown-dominated decade, Fiona has shown that an edge can be time-worn, yet still razor sharp. At 26, the Canadian has already racked up an NAACP Image award and a Grammy nomination—achievements that divas twice her age would be fortunate to have bagged after several albums, let alone after their first release. Belting out sultry, breathy tunes with maturity beyond her years, it won't be long before this decade's newcomers are opening up arena shows for Fiona.

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Kelly Dearmore

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