Looking red hot in a strapless peplum dress, Alicia Keys takes the cover of ESSENCE magazine’s January issue for the new year.

As the Grammy Award winner continues to float on the high of her latest album Girl On Fire, Keys details her spiritual makeover and how she learned to say “no” in order to maintain balance in her hectic life.

“It’s okay if I can’t do every single thing,” she said. ”I finally understand that it doesn’t make me a lesser artist or human being.”

In the feature, Keys also explains the difficulty of being unprepared for Hurricane Sandy. As power was lost throughout New York City, she, husband Swizz Beatz and their 2-year-old son Egypt found themselves searching the kitchen for food thatdidn’t require cooking.

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“After the third or fourth tuna fish sandwich, and after we learned we’d be without power for a week, I called my mother, who lives Uptown,” said Keys, a resident of SoHo. “She was okay and hadn’t lost any power, so we ended up going to her house. We were pretty lucky.”

As a result of Sandy’s destruction, the 31-year-old songstress and activist was also forced to postpone Keep a Child Alive’s annual Black Ball previously set for Nov. 1. But after regrouping and reworking plans, the event will now be held Dec. 6 at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater.

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The ninth annual Black Ball, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, will honor Oprah Winfrey and Angelique Kidjo for their philanthropic efforts. Bonnie Rait, Jennifer Hudson and Alabama Shakes’ Britany Howard are set to perform.

Keep a Child Alive was founded in 2003 by Keys and Leigh Blake to assist HIV/AIDS victims in Africa and India. [Uptown]

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