Good News in History, January 25

Happy 40th Birthday to Alicia Keys, the American singer-songwriter and classically-trained pianist who was signed to a major record deal at age 15.

A unique blend of ‘Neo Soul’ and R&B, her debut album, Songs in A Minor, with its No.1 single Fallin’, sold over 12 million copies worldwide, and earned the 18-year-old five Grammy Awards.

Growing up without a father in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, Keys credits her mother’s tenacity and self-reliance for anchoring her on the right path, unlike many people she grew up with who ended up on the wrong path or in jail.

In total, she’s won 15 Grammys and sold over 50 million albums. During 2020, she released her seventh studio album, Alicia, and published a new book about personal transformation, entitled, More Myself: A Journey.

Keys is also acclaimed for her humanitarian work, is the co-founder of the nonprofit HIV/AIDS-fighting organization Keep a Child Alive, and raised money last year for COVID-19 relief. WATCH a sweet video from lockdown… (1981)

– Photo credits: 2013, by Eva Rinaldi and 2008, by Lukas – CC licenses

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • City of São Paulo founded in Brazil (1554)
  • The Wedding March by Mendelssohn was played at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter and became a favorite recessional (1858)
  • The United Mine Workers of America was founded in order to improve working conditions and wages for coal miners (1890)
  • AT&T completed the first transcontinental telephone call in the US (1915)
  • Pope John Paul II demanded the release of political prisoners during a historic visit to Cuba (1998)
  • Egypt’s revolution began as thousands of anti-government protesters, inspired by the Tunisian uprising, clashed with police and demanded the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s rule (2011)

And on this date in 1890, pioneering journalist Nellie Bly completed a record breaking trip around the world in 72 days, to prove that Jules Verne’s fictional journey (“Around the World in 80 Days”) could be achieved. Nellie-Bly-publicdomainShe traveled the 24,899 miles, mostly alone, using steamships and trains, wearing only the dress on her back, a sturdy overcoat and carrying a small travel bag with toiletries and underwear.

Nellie Bly w coat and bag NYWorld
Promotional photo taken by New York World before her trip

While circumnavigating the globe for her newspaper, modern submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports, although longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and thus, were delayed by several weeks. Nellie Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, first became renown for her undercover investigation on insane asylum conditions, during which she pretended to be mad. Her expose led to a grand jury investigation and $850,000 in increased funds to care for the insane. Her career began when she was 16, after a misogynistic column, “What Girls Are Good For,” ran in the Pittsburgh Dispatch and prompted her to write a fiery anonymous rebuttal to the editor. He was so impressed with her passion that he ran an advertisement asking the author to identify herself. When Ms. Cochrane introduced herself to the editor, George Madden, he offered her the opportunity to write a piece for the newspaper.  (Nellie wrote books about her experiences, and there are stories for children about her trip.)

And, 61 years ago today, Bubble Wrap was invented. Although it failed in its original purpose as a textured wallpaper, it became a popular shipping insulation. Afterward, one of the inventors Alfred Fielding co-founded the Sealed Air Corporation and received a trademark on the name bubble wrap. The protruding air-filled bubbles, which can be popped, also became a fascination for children—and the young-at-heart. (1960)

Also, on this day in 1938, the great blues singer Etta James was born in Los Angeles. Her iconic 1960 hit “At Last”, often played at weddings, was among 9 US Top 40 hits that earned her multiple awards.

After that debut hit album, she faced a number of personal problems, including heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration, before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s. In April 2009, at the age of 71, James made her final television appearance before succumbing to leukemia, performing At Last on Dancing with the Stars. WATCH her perform the song at her induction into the Rock Hall of Fame…

And, on this day in 1919, the Paris Peace Conference decided to create the League of Nations and proceeded to draft a Covenant that 44 states would sign five months later. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included “preventing wars through collective security and disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.”

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