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Keys tunes in to fashion side

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NEW YORK -- Platinum-selling songstress Alicia Keys is in an upstairs dressing room at Radio City Music Hall. She faces a mirror while brushing shadow across her lids.

She's laid-back, in a cropped gold jacket and tight jeans, her glittery Baby Phat stilettos matching her sparkly belt. Keys has just finished rehearsing for the Fashion Rocks concert, taping tonight at Radio City and airing Friday on CBS (9 p.m. ET/PT). Proceeds from tickets will go to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Keys also is taking part in BET's benefit telethon airing that same night. And she is participating in another benefit concert on MTV and VH1 on Saturday.

Keys, 24, says seeing Katrina's destruction left her "devastated. I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop talking about it. I want to do my part."

The Grammy-winning singer has an MTV Unplugged special that airs on Sept. 23 (10 p.m. ET/PT), featuring a string quartet and covers of the Rolling Stones' Wild Horses and Brenda Holloway's Every Little Bit Hurts; a companion CD is out Oct. 11. The album "feels really natural, intimate and very personal," she says.

Because Fashion Rocks is a glam extravaganza, Keys will wear Dolce & Gabbana to the show. But when it comes to her style, she takes a relaxed approach.

Her on-stage attire "depends on what song I'm doing and how I'm performing it," she says. "Lately I've been at my Wurlitzer (keyboard), so I'm usually up for pants and a really beautiful top."

Keys' look has evolved from baggy jeans and chunky boots. "I've gotten more into my feminine side. It's sexy but with an edge. I like to try new things, whether people like it or not."

So what if her colorful, clingy getups get slammed by the fashion police? "I definitely don't make it a big deal," she giggles. "I wear what I wear. (But) there's been times that things didn't work for me, looking back."

A recent standout is the "Grecian white" frock she wore to the Grammys. Another favorite? The "very pretty" Armani dress she donned at this year's VMAs.

And the worst?

"It was this fur collar, and PETA should have gotten me with red paint. It was probably not real fur anyway, but the way the collar was up around my face it looked like I was being eaten by a big bear."

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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