A Hoarse Jessica Simpson Sings on Today

09/01/2006 at 09:30 AM EDT

A Hoarse Jessica Simpson Sings on Today
Jessica Simpson
James Devaney/WireImage
Jessica Simpson finally sang on the Today show Friday, although on doctor's orders, she could only whisper when speaking to host Matt Lauer.

Simpson had previously been scheduled to sing songs from her new album, A Public Affair, on Tuesday, the day the disc was released, but was forced to cancel due to a bruised vocal cord.

But on Friday morning, Simpson, a rose tucked behind her ear and sporting a short haircut and checkered short shorts, sang her single "I Belong to Me" outdoors at New York City's Rockefeller Plaza before a polite and attentive crowd – and an army of paparazzi.

"I love you," she said to fans.

Between numbers, Simpson drank something medicinal prepared by her vocal coach and which Lauer described as "gnarly looking – I don't even want to know what it is."

"I don't want to know, either," said Simpson, flashing a brown potion inside a glass canister. She then told the audience, "My voice is shot," before going into "With You," which she called "the T-shirt song" (for its lyric, "With nothing but a T-shirt on/ I never felt so beautiful/ Baby, as I do now/ Now that I'm with you").

"I have no voice," she said afterwards to Lauer, explaining that the problem wasn't laryngitis. "I bruised a blood vessel in my vocal cords. I don't know if I had, like, a screaming, crying attack, or a coughing attack, or a sneeze or what."

When she learned of her diagnosis just as she was scheduled to begin promoting her album, Simpson said her reaction was "Oh, dang it!" But, she said, she promised to make good on any cancelled appearances (she'd postponed a visit to the Late Show with David Letterman and stopped by – but didn't sing on – MTV's TRL on Tuesday).

Thursday night at the MTV Video Music Awards, Simpson presented the best dance video trophy to the Pussycat Dolls.

"The VMAs were a blast," she told Lauer. "I was only there for a little bit."

She didn't go to any parties afterward? "If I did," she said, "I wouldn't be here today."

Simpson didn't talk about her personal life on her Today appearance, but said of her "feel-good" album, "It has my heart all over it."

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