It's a song that nightly rouses theater audiences. It's also the title of Eartha Kitt's impending book.
After four decades in a career filled with fame and misfortune, Kitt wants all to know: "I'm Still Here.""I sing the song because it relates to my own experience," the veteran performer said of her second-act show-stopper in "Follies," Stephen Sondheim's 1971 musical, which has been running for more than a year at London's Shaftesbury Theater.
"That's why it's wonderful when I see young people coming around asking for an autograph. It makes me feel as if I'm still here," she said.
She joined the cast July 4, replacing Dolores Gray as the hard-bitten Carlotta, a woman who turns the memory of her "good times and bum times" into a classic Broadway hymn to resilience.
Kitt has parlayed her own "bum times" into a career that rode out divorce and political harassment to find her making her London musical debut at what she thinks, but isn't sure, is the age of 60.
"All I knew was I had to survive because I was being abused by everybody that came along and anybody I was thrown to," she said.
Her life has made headlines as often as her work.
Kitt was born on a cotton plantation in South Carolina, the illegitimate child of a half-black, half-Indian woman who was raped by the white son of the plantation owner. When she was five, she was sent to live with an aunt in Harlem - a time marked by poverty and hunger.
The difficulties continued even when her burgeoning career brought the money that comes with fame. Her marriage in the 1960s to William McDonald ended in an acrimonious divorce.
In 1968, she denounced the Vietnam War in front of Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a remark that led to a CIA dossier denouncing Kitt as "a sadistic nymphomaniac with a vile tongue."
Today, thoughts of these events leave her bemused as much as bitter.
"Why did they make such a furor over a little person like myself?" she said, pausing during the interview to focus on the needlepoint seat cushion she is making, or to tend to her 6-week-old pet dove named Folly.
"I was ostracized for telling the truth," she said. "You're asked a particular question and you expect them to want to hear your particular opinion, and when the truth rings against their ears . . . you get knocked out of the box."
Kitt found work difficult to come by after the CIA allegations. But 1978 proved a turning-point of sorts, when she returned to Broadway in the musical "Timbuktu!" and was invited back to the White House by President Jimmy Carter.
However, the White House invitation failed to provide the necessary balm.
"I'm still waiting for the government to say I'm sorry," she said. "America is supposed to be run by the people for the people, not by one schnook in the White House.
"I don't think America should be run by one person anymore. She's gotten too big and spread herself out too much," she said. "She's dissipated herself from the inside, and if she allows it to continue, she's not going to have anything left for us, the citizens of the country."
The marriage last year of her only daughter has left her feeling lonely and vulnerable.
"I always worked because there was somebody I could do something for, like my daughter," said Kitt, dabbing at her eye with a handkerchief. "Now, she's gone, and it hurts. It's one of the feelings I'm writing about in the book."
"I'm Still Here" is the third memoir she has written. It is to be published in Britain in September 1989, by Sidgwick and Jackson.
"It never becomes remote, no," she said of her past. "The pains are too great."
But despite "the empty-nest syndrome," Kitt takes solace in her fans and her work and in being back in England.
"Paris and London are the places that made me realize there is an Eartha Kitt inside of me somewhere," said the performer, who first came to London in 1949 as a dancer with Katherine Dunham's troupe.
"The British people helped me cultivate my own sense of humor and not be afraid of it. You're not as easily forgotten in these countries as we are in America.
"It amazes me that wherever I go, the public is there," she said. "Believe me, no one's more grateful than I am."