Oprah: Those are good words, and I know where they're coming from. I know you don't mean bling or a big house.

Alicia: Right. I kept diaries when I was young....

Oprah: I've kept them since I was 15. They're among my most prized possessions.

Alicia: It's like, "If the house is burning down, get the diaries out." When I was 9, I was in my first music group. I wrote this stupid little thing about how this boy asked me to dance at this party, and at the end of my diary, I wrote, "Please, please, please let this group work out." It didn't, but other things did.

Oprah: In my first diary, I wrote, "My dad won't let me go to Shoney's with Anthony Otey. Dad doesn't understand true love."

Alicia: That's so cute.

Oprah: I'll go back and read something I've described as painful, and I can't even remember the incident. You always manage to walk through the pain and come out on the other side.

Alicia: Ain't that something?

Oprah: What other dreams do you have for yourself?

Alicia: I want to do the kinds of things that make a difference. Like the community-based charities I support, Keep a Child Alive [which supports kids with AIDS] and Frum tha Ground Up. They're about uplifting kids, giving them a direction.

Oprah: I meet a lot of celebrities with a little camp here, a little charity there, but your desire to contribute feels part of something bigger. Is it?

Alicia: Everything I do stems from something personal, not just because it will look good on paper or be a tax write-off. Camps are great and I want to do one, but I want to be involved, hands-on. These possibilities give my life meaning, and they give me something other than the red carpet to look forward to.

Oprah: Is the red carpet fun for you?

Alicia: It depends. Sometimes I think, "Wow!" Other times I see how shallow it is and I ask myself, "What am I doing here?" I participated in the Billboard Latin Music Awards, my first Latin awards show, and they were the most professional, efficient, and welcoming group of people. I performed my song in Spanish. It was a magical moment.

Oprah: I bet. When I was growing up, I always wanted to look the way you do. Girls like you were called cupcakes. I was a brownie. When did you know you were cute?

Alicia: I never really had a moment when I thought, "I am cute." Like everybody, I tried to wear things that looked good on me. But I was a lazy bum. I wasn't the girl who always had my hair and nails done. In high school, I wore my hair in the tightest bun.

Oprah: Did you see The Vagina Monologues?

Alicia: Yes, in London.