Alicia Keys Mulls Next Album, New Single

The 2007 chart-topping album "As I Am" is still a fresh concern for Alicia Keys, but the singer tells Billboard.com that she's already actively mulling her next record. "I've been thinking about the n

The 2007 chart-topping album "As I Am" is still a fresh concern for Alicia Keys, but the singer tells Billboard.com that she's already actively mulling her next record.

"I've been thinking about the next album since we kind of wrapped up this album," says Keys, who's in the middle of a North American tour promoting "As I Am." The set, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in November, still remains in the top 30 of the chart.

"Part of what I've been thinking about is, 'What are the ways that I want to express myself this time?' When I was just finishing recording 'As I Am,' I said to myself that I want to do something that's totally stripped-down, stripped-back, totally piano-based, singer-songwriter; [a] Joni Mitchell, Carole King type of vibe.

"I might do that, but you never know where life takes you, where the music's going to take you."

Keys says her greatest obstacle to creating new music now is finding a chance to do it amidst a worldwide tour schedule that has dates booked into 2009.

"At this point I'm trying to find the space to continue to record as I'm on tour," explains Keys, who recently canceled some performances due to voice health issues. "That's always a bit of a challenge for me 'cause it takes so much out of me to tour. But there's always that urge to stay creative and write on that more personal side. So the main goal now is to continue to find that quiet space somewhere in the madness."

Keys is also starting to consider her next single, the follow-up to "Teenage Love Affair." She says she's leaning towards "Superwoman," which she feels encapsulates much of what "As I Am" is about.

"This album really has taught me so much about myself," Keys says, "and every day I'm learning more and more. The beauty of 'Superwoman' is that it's not about being all-powerful and ... being perfect, 'cause no one is.

"It's about perfection in our weaknesses and perfection in our imperfection, that we can still keep going and we can still learn and still remain strong. Even when we're feeling weak, we can still be superwomen -- and supermen. I love what that says about all that I've learned this year."

Keys says she and director Gina Prince-Bythewood are still deciding whether she'll contribute any music to her next film project, an adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's novel "The Secret Life of Bees." Due this fall, "Bees" features Keys acting alongside Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah.

Keys has also been tapped to star as the biracial classical piano prodigy Philippa Schuyler in the Halle Berry-produced "Black and White" but says the project is currently in the scripting stage with its release "a couple of years off."