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My Secret Life: Macy Gray, singer, 42

My parents were ... interesting, big-hearted individuals. My mum was a maths teacher; my father worked at a steel factory, a barber shop and was also a landlord.

The house I grew up in ... was next to the local farm and had four bedrooms, a huge backyard and a huge front porch.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... a doctor, a choreographer, to be in the circus, to be a bank robber and a writer.

If I could change one thing about myself ... it would be my feet. I've got huge feet; I'd like to make them smaller.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... playing cards.

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... saying no.

At night I dream of ... I see whole movies playing out in my head at night. Last night it was one called 'Frog Man', which came from nowhere, about a dude who was half frog and half man and lived in the ocean.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... I look at my hair and eyes first. I want my hair to look good and my eyes to look awake.

My favourite item of clothing ... is a new pair of Chanel knee-high boots, which braid all the way up the ankle. But they don't make them in my size.

I wish I'd never worn ... a frown on my face.

I drive/ride ... mostly an orange Hummer around Los Angeles where I live. But I have a few cars.

My house is ... big and cosy with lots of pictures, lots of musical instruments and arcade games.

My favourite work of art ... is a Jean-Michel Basquiat interpretation of Muhammad Ali called 'Boxer' [an eight-foot wide canvas which was sold at auction for $13,522,500 to an anonymous phone bidder in 2008, by the previous owner, Lars Ulrich, the drummer of the heavy-metal band Metallica].

A book that changed me ... was 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu [a Chinese military treatise written in the 6th century BC], which I read in college when I was about 18 years old. It essentially said that every battle is won before it's fought; that changed my whole perspective on life.

My favourite building ... is my home.

Movie heaven ... would be a toss-up between 'A Star is Born', 'Goodfellas' and 'Do the Right Thing', in bed with sweet and salty popcorn, some water and some wine.

The last album I bought/downloaded ... A Little Dragon record, which is this soul/pop/alternative band from Switzerland.

My secret crush ... At the moment there are several: Steve Jobs [the CEO of Apple] is kind of hot in a weird way.

My greatest regret ... would be that I didn't say enough nice things to my father before he died, in 2002.

My real-life villain ... is the American Congress, collectively.

The people who really make me laugh ... are kids who are aged 15, 14 and 12; they make me crack up a lot.

The last time I cried ... was last week. Why was I crying? I don't even know, I tend to cry over nothing.

My five-year plan ... I don't have one.

What's the point? The point is to love as much as you can, laugh as much as you can, eat as much as you can, drink as much as you can, make love as much as you can, and to make as much money as you can.

My life in six words ... bubbling, magical, up and down, moon.

A life in brief

The singer and songwriter Macy Gray was born Natalie Renée McIntyre in Canton, Ohio, on 6 September 1967. Her most famous hit, "I Try", won her a Grammy award in 2000; in 2005 she opened the Macy Gray Music Academy in Hollywood for underprivileged kids. She lives in Los Angeles and has three children from a previous marriage. The single "Lately", taken from her new album The Sellout, is released on 14 June