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IN THE POP REALM, ALECIA MOORE, better known to the world as Pink, has long established herself as a no-nonsense music chameleon. Just when you think you have her pegged, the Doylestown, Pa., native flips it in another direction. Folk, rock, punk, R&B; -- she's proficient in all, delivering the styles with a high-pop gloss. The title of her latest album, her first in three years, makes an unnecessary declaration: I'm Not Dead. If anything, Pink's music feels more vibrant than it did when she first hit the scene in 2000.

"I would say I think I'm more practiced as a songwriter and singer," says the artist, who headlines the 9:30 Club on Sunday night. "This time, I did a whole lot of parts: the rock, the folk stuff. I stretched myself."

I'm Not Dead landed in stores in April, opening at No. 6 on Billboard's pop album charts, the highest debut of any of Pink's four albums. "Stupid Girls," the CD's controversial lead single, undoubtedly helped spur sales. In the hilarious video for the song, Pink parodies Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and other plastic media stars. She also mocks the destructive behavior of girls in unrealistic pursuit of model-thin bodies.

But, right now, Pink is a little tired of talking about the song.

She sighs heavily. "I've made my point, and it's there in the song, you know?"

"Dear Mr. President," another notable cut on the new album, takes aims at President Bush. Featuring background harmonies by the Indigo Girls, it's written from the perspective of a child: Dear Mr. President / Come take a walk with me / Let's pretend we're just two people and you're not better than me ...

"I went into the studio on Martin Luther King Day," says the raspy-voiced singer, who's calling from her tour bus, which is headed for a gig in Las Vegas. "I was feeling mad about what was happening around us and wrote that song."

Pink, 26, credits her bold musical direction to her more settled personal life. After the release of 2003's Try This -- the unfocused, hard-rock follow-up to 2001's multiplatinum punk-pop effort M!ssundaztood -- the soulful belter took some time off to just live. No record label demands, no grueling tours. In the interim, she married her longtime boyfriend, motocross star Carey Hart.

"Married life is wonderful; it's perfect," Pink says, sounding a bit more perked up. "He doesn't travel with me. We meet up in random cities. I'm enjoying it all."

When she was rested and rejuvenated, the artist entered the studio with producers Billy Mann, Max Martin, Butch Walker and others to record perhaps her most eclectic set to date. I'm Not Dead veers from strummy folk-rock to radio-friendly power pop, from reggae-shaded dance tunes to blues-tinged numbers.

About the style jumping, Pink says, "I've never felt held back. It's not a problem in my case. I think it helps me. I've fought for that freedom."

For her, the music and touring are much more important right now than, say, a prospective acting career. Pink was recently picked for the starring role in a coming movie based on the life of Janis Joplin. But, "I dropped out," she says dismissively. "They wanted to shoot a movie. I wanted to tour, so they have to find somebody else."

Now that Pink is more focused on the music, she wants to stretch herself even more.

"I grew up singing gospel in church, and that's something I haven't tapped yet," she says. "I think there's something, a power that can only be expressed when singing gospel."

And you can bet she'll do it her way.

"Hey, I'm going to be myself," Pink says. "I'm just gonna keep on pushing and doing what I do."


Pink performs at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W. in Washington, on Sunday night. The show is sold out.


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