Alicia Keys partly owes her success to the prostitutes she grew up checking out in New York's Times Square - because she swore early on she'd never become one of them.

The soul star admits seeing the low life in the middle of the Big Apple when she was a child made her promise herself she'd do everything she could to avoid a life on the street.

She recalls, "There were all these women on the street with very little clothing on. I asked (my mother) who they were and she explained.

"I'll never forget that night because it was so cold, and they were so skinny and sick-looking.

"I remember promising myself that nothing would ever trap me or force me into a life like that."

But Keys misses the seedy underbelly of New York - she insists the clean up of Times Square has killed the area's creativity.

She adds, "There was a gritty side, but there was a magical side, too. There was a certain energy - people being creative to survive."

13/04/2005 09:29