2nd wind for Mariah
It's hard to doubt Mariah Carey when she says she can't walk away from music,
movies and love - even after hospitalization for exhaustion, the loss of history's
biggest record contract, critical disdain for her semi-autobiographical film,
Glitter, and breakups with her husband and subsequent boyfriend.
Buoyed by a new $20 million recording deal, a triple-platinum CD and a less-hectic
schedule, Carey has embarked on her most extensive concert tour. The 52-date trek
visits U.S. theaters through September (including Phoenix's Dodge Theatre on
Saturday), then arenas and stadiums in Europe and Asia.
Positive reviews for her film role in last year's WiseGirls have encouraged the
New York-born Carey to consider more acting after 2001's ill-fated Glitter. As for
romance, after the failure of her five-year marriage to recording mogul Tommy Mottola
in 1998 and her breakup with boyfriend Luis Miguel, Carey, 33, says she's ready
for a break.
Emerging from last year's hospitalization for what she called "complete exhaustion",
the singer views her return to the stage as just what the doctor ordered. "She has
not been a (heavily) touring artist in the past," says Carey's manager, John Marx
of the William Morris Agency. "She's enjoying it, and she's working more dates
than she ever has."
Marx disputed reports that slow ticket sales caused Carey to downsize her U.S.
shows, saying, "She was getting a lot of information from the fans, that they
wanted to see her in smaller venues." Carey recently discussed the ups and downs
of her career and personal life, as well as what's on the horizon.
How are you feeling these days? Are your batteries recharged?
They have been for quite some time, thank you.
What are you doing differently to avoid exhaustion?
I kind of had to put everybody in check who was surrounding me. People had to
realize that I'm a human being as well as someone who is in the public eye and
a celebrity. It's not all about working me to death, literally. It's about giving
me some space, some time to actually have a couple of vacations a year, just to
take a breather, which I never ever did before. I would just work 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, and that's not healthy for anybody.
Some people are calling your latest CD, Charmbracelet, a comeback. Do you
think the reports of your recent ups and downs have been overblown?
I do look at it like it's been overblown, but if people choose to call it a
comeback album, then that's fine. This album, in a lot of ways, is coming back
to my roots.
You could have walked away from everything, relaxed and wealthy, before
entering this new record deal. Why do it all again?
Because music is what I love, and it's hard to walk away from what you love.
I do care about my fans, and I know that they wanted me to make a new record,
and I wanted - and needed - to make a new record.
What approach did you take to creating Charmbracelet?
The experience of making this record was so cathartic for me. Just being
honest with the lyrics and singing from my heart on songs like My Saving
Grace and Sunflowers for Alfred Roy - which I wrote for my father after he
passed away last year - songs that I needed to write. I needed to sing those
songs, and that's why I did it.
You've said that pain sometimes produces great art. Are there songs on
the new CD that reflect that?
My Saving Grace is very autobiographical. It kind of tells my whole story
and how, when going through problems, I always lean on my faith and how strong
an element faith is in my life. Sunflowers for Alfred Roy is something that I
wrote for my father, in honor of him... He was very sick. He was in the hospital
for a while, and we were there together. We hadn't had that close of a relationship,
but we got to know each other a lot better than we ever had, and I'm very grateful
for that. So going through that experience helped me produce something that I
feel is in honor of him.
After your experience with Glitter, how do you view the film industry? Did
you get soured by the negative reviews, or are you still optimistic about
working in movies?
I was just happy that I had done WiseGirls. It was an indie project that I did
with Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters. It got really good reviews in the Hollywood
Reporter and Variety, and we went to the Sundance Film Festival with it. I did
that against everybody's wishes, and it was just something that I did for the
love of that role. I played a waitress who is a drug dealer from Staten Island,
so it was completely different from the Mariah Carey image. I think that the
lesson I learned from being involved with the first movie (Glitter) was that
you don't do something just because it's what everybody says you should do.
You don't have to just play a singer and be in some homogenized Hollywood
situation because people tell you it's the right thing to do. I learned a lesson
that it's all about art and all about doing what's going to be the best thing
for you as an artist, creatively.
There's been speculation that your decision to play smaller venues might be
due to slow ticket sales. Could you clarify that?
In all honesty, it's going to be so much more intimate and so much easier for
me, because I tend to micromanage things, and that's what can contribute to my
overextending myself. I don't want to do that this time around. I don't want
to be worrying about the sound man, worrying about pyro stuff. I don't want to
be doing things that are not about just performing and relaxing within my performance.
My fans want to see me in this type of a setting, as opposed to an impersonal
venue where they miss half of what's being said onstage and the sound is all
boomy. So it's my decision to do that. I can play arenas if I want; that's not
You're in your 30s now, as many of your original fans are. Do you see your
concert audiences getting older?
I pretty much see all ages and all different demographics. It's cool, as a
multiracial person, to be able to see all different races, creeds and colors out there.
You write most of your own material. Is that one thing that sets you apart
from other "divas"?
It's something that's such a part of me that I wouldn't even feel like a whole
person if I couldn't do it. It really is something that's always been a healing
savior for me. When I go into the creative mode and I start writing, it takes
me to another level and I feel like a totally different person... So it does set
me apart in that way.
You've been through a divorce and a breakup in recent years. Are you still
optimistic about finding love?
Yeah, (but) I'm not obsessed with it, like the public is. Every magazine is
like, "Who's so-and-so dating?" and, "What's going on with these two lovebirds?"
That's not my focus. I know it's hard for people to believe that about a woman,
because we're all supposed to be crying out and in need (laughs). It's more
about being at peace with myself.
Are you in a relationship now, or are you taking a break?
Yeah, just taking a little break.
(The Arizona Republic)
Many thanks to Mariah Connection.
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