macy gray

The songstress will trade her mic for dancing shoes on this season's "DWTS." Photo: Michael Nagle, Getty Images

Velvet-voiced songbird Macy Gray will be one of the celebrities gliding across TV screens when "Dancing With the Stars" returns for its ninth season tonight.

Last week Gray called StyleList from a concert appearance in Bucharest, Romania, and chatted with us about training for the show and some of the favorite things she has in her closet.

StyleList: You once claimed you'd never do "DTWS" because you "can't dance a lick" -- why did you change your mind?

Macy Gray: My mom talked me into it, actually (said with her familiar smokey chuckle). Because my mom thinks that's the ultimate: that you have arrived if you're on "Dancing With the Stars."

SL: So what was all that about "Not dancing a lick?"
MG: I'm learning how to dance, and I am performer, so I'm learning the proper way to hold my body, and technical stuff that I didn't know before. It's actually a great learning experience. It feels like a kajillion hours of training, though. Our first dance for the first show, we have to do a waltz, so I'm working on that a lot. And then everybody does the cha-cha, so we're all doing the cha-cha. I thought I had done the cha-cha before, until I was taught how to do it."

SL: Your stage persona is pretty flashy; what can you tell us about your personal style?
MG: Right now we're doing all glamor, all diva for the tour -- you know, bling-bling. But in my every day I like to be comfortable; I have my favorite sneakers and things like that. I like to dress down.

SL: What's the favorite thing in your closet?
MG: I have a sweater that I live in, a sweater that I bought in Canada at [department store] Holt Renfrew; I bought this long black sweater. And what's so funny is I Googled to see who made it because I wanted to get more, and the line is called Line. So it's hard to Google, but it's the best sweater I ever had!

SL: You're working on your new album [due out next year]. What track are you especially excited about?
MG:
"Lately." Everybody loves that one, we're doing the video for it while we're on tour in Europe. The album is still soul music at the core, but it's very electric and it's upbeat. It's very different and fresh.

SL: In the meantime, however, you have a little celebrity dance competition to win. Did you get any advice on the show from your mom in Canton, Ohio?
MG: Yes I did (laughing). She said you really have to smile a lot and show that you're happy to be there. She said, if people know that you're happy, they'll vote for you!

"Dancing With the Stars" airs tonight (September 21) at 8/7 CT on ABC.