Alicia Keys ''connects'' with Michelle Obama over female empowerment.

The 'Girl On Fire' singer was one of a privileged few who were invited to perform at US President Barack Obama's official inauguration ball for his second term in January, and made good friends with the First Lady.

She told ES magazine: ''I very much connect with Michelle. And we've done different things together that have given us so much to talk about -- she's really interested in girls and empowerment too.''

The 33-year-old singer is also friends with younger pop star Rihanna, 25, who she admires as she promotes such a strong and positive feminine image.

She added: ''It's such a tricky, crazy business, and when people are a little bit younger than me, I'm always hoping that their soul is good because it can be such a soulless space. I'm proud of Rihanna. Because it's not easy to stand up in this crazy world and make it and keep going and try new things. And find your way through it.''

ES Magazine is available with today's (14.06.13) London Evening Standard newspaper.