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NEW YORK (Reuters) - In the mid-1980s when singer Annie Lennox wore mens' suits, sported an orange crew-cut and faced constant questions about her androgynous image, she responded by coming to sing at the Grammy awards in full drag.
Now after four solo albums, divorce, and a new greatest hits CD, the outspoken Scottish-born singer who first won fame as part of pop duo Eurythmics says those times are long out of fashion.
"It became passé," she told Reuters.
But the 54-year-old Lennox, whose first retrospective CD "The Annie Lennox Collection" gets its U.S. release this week, says she still wants to retain her image as an artist on the edge of pop music and culture, as well as a powerful woman.
"I am thinking "OK, I don't want to end up like the proverbial 'mutton dressed as lamb' but how am I going to do this aging thing gracefully?" she said.
"I still want to be an empowered performer, an empowered woman. I want women to see that and think, 'It's OK, she's got a few wrinkles and it's fine.' I don't have to lie about my age ... What's to be ashamed of? And what is so wrong about being older?"
Her new 14-song album features such hits as "Walking on Broken Glass," "No More I Love You's," "Why," and two new songs including "Shining Light" -- a cover of the best-selling 2001 single by Irish rockers Ash.
The album, which she calls "a grand bow out before I go and do the next thing" is her last with her record label of 30 years, Sony BMG, and she has yet to sign with another label.
The songs are taken from each of her four solo albums she recorded after making a break in 1990 from Dave Stewart, with whom she formed the successful pop duo Eurythmics.
Each solo album marked varying emotional states for Lennox. Her "Songs of Mass Destruction" in 2007, including the single "Dark Road," addressed sadness and joylessness "in my soul."
Lennox, who said she is currently not in a relationship, said she had learned some lessons in life. Her marriage to Israeli film and record producer Uri Fruchtman ended in 2000.
"I don't particularly believe in marriage anymore. I think it is nice if you can get it and it works but, boy oh boy," she said. "When you are older and you can look back because you have been there -- if I had known then what I know now -- maybe it would have been different."
Her greatest hits album, which was delayed for more than six months after she suffered a trapped spinal nerve, has brought a new relaxed way of living to Lennox and an awareness of life's highs and lows that she attempts to avoid.
"I feel like I am coasting right now. I feel pretty good," she said. "I am scared to say that, because you never know in life, do you?"
After this album, the political activist and mother of two girls said she will keep recording music and campaigning on issues such as AIDS in Africa and women's rights.
And Lennox is quick to add that she still prefers dressing in trousers. "I don't come across as pretty, sexy, all tits and arse. I never did, and I wouldn't now because I am too old for that," she said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Eric Walsh