Wednesday 24 November 1999

Mariah Carey sees the life in pink

She's the worlds best selling artist. From her father she inherited a black voice. From her mother, an Irish singer, the sense of music. 29-year old Mariah Carey lives like a Hollywood star. She doesn't collect Oscars though, but she collects albums that have gone gold and platinum. 81 for 115 million world sales, an absolute record. Heartbreaker, the first single from her new album Rainbow, out on 28th October, is already her 14th number 1 in the chart of Amercian magazing Billboard, the bible of showbiz. An achievment beaten in the past only by the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Mariah Carey is the only singer-writer who has every year since 1990, one number 1 single. Even her divorce in May 1998 from Tommy Mottola, the boss of Sony and the man who formed her career, has by no way affected her career. An idol to teenagers, Carey, whose mother is Irish and whose father is black-american, ignores all racial boundaries. The diva with the golden voice sings of love and everybody recognize her.

Since your divorce from Tommy Mottola, the boss of Sony who launched your career, one has the feeling that you are completely liberated. You, who were so reserved, hang out now in night clubs and you wear clothes which are always more sexy. Is this the new Mariah Carey?

Mariah: I was launched as a young girl who could be a "role model" and later, when I wanted to get a little away from it, they made me understand that this wasn't very wise for my career. So I got there progressivly. Today I feel very good and in accordance with myself. It's evident to all the world that I'm a different girl now. I'm not the little Mariah who sings sweet like sirup songs anymore. I've got a more hip-hip edge. So, you can see who I really am and where my previous personality came from...

You have said that you don't believe in marriage, since your parents divorced. Why did you marry Tommy Mottola?

Mariah: I thought that being married to him would make my life more simple. I had never been seen anywhere else and I couldn't understand why he didn't trust me. I tried to explain things to him, but he didn't understand.

When did you realize that this marriage was a mistake?

Mariah: I had a feeling of security that I had never felt before. He was very attached to me, but he also was my worst enemy. I have nice memories of our vacations because there were never dramas then, which was the opposite of what happened in everyday life. Sometimes I look at the photos and that causes me pain. We came from different worlds. The people from my environment who worked for him feared him. Way deep inside me I think he has many gifts. I'm going to let time help me forget. I was raised in a total freedom of spirit and with Tommy Mottola it was the exact opposite. I made superhuman efforts. Because I was afraid of loosing I did everything to keep it going. I would never have that I would be the one who'd leave. I was scared.

Knowing you are single, people linked you with half the showbiz, Kevin Costner, Leonardo DiCaprio, Puff Daddy...

Mariah: Pfff... if they enjoy it! What you want me to say? I'm more open by nature and I like meeting people very much. From that point they came to conclusions that honestly make me laugh. I'm not the type of girl who passes from one guy to another. I haven't been with more than three men in my life: Tommy Mottola, Derek Jeter (a baseball player) and Luis Miguel (she lowers her eyes like a little girl).

You tried to hide your romance with Luis Miguel for a long time, why?

MMariah: Once a relationship begins you don't really want to put it in the eye of the cameras. We met in Aspen, at Christmas. I'm very happy with him, without a doubt, because he does the same job as me. We understand the problems of each other. And he enjoys very much the nightlife like me.

It is said that, thanks to you, Sony earns 200 million dollars every year. How much money ends up in your pocket?

Mariah: I don't know the numbers, but if what you tell me is true I'm gonna go crazy.

What do you do with your money?

Mariah: I don't have a house, I had to pay for half of the house I was living in with my ex-husband. I don't collect paintings. I just bought only an appartement in Tribeca and it's not even finished.

But you never do crazy things? For example, don't you have an aeroplane?

Mariah: A plane? You imagine that I'm more rich than I am. When I started out I was under a contract to a producer to whom I was obliguated to give 50% of my profits for the first album, 40% for the second, 30% for the third. Giving half of my royalties to someone who didn't really deserve it made me mad. I was young and I couldn't break that contract. I didn't have a lawyer and nor had I a way to afford one. I was living in a tiny appartement. Even today, I'm not a millionare. I'm involved in an association for the non-beneficial children. And also, I spend time with my family, with the people who surround me. The more you become famous, the more you need people around you.

You hold the record of sales for the 90ties. Do you feel envied by Madonna or Celine Dion?

Mariah: It happens that they're not very polite with me and they're snob with me, but what do you want me to do.

Today you can't go out anymore without causing a fuss. Is it pleasant living behind black glasses and be protacted by bodyguards?

Mariah: When I go out for shopping I put on a hat, sport shoes, casual clothes and I get away with it. Sometimes people recognize me but that's very rare. I'm not sure that this would be a problem. Those people who like to be disturbed ask for it when they go out with nothing but black glasses on. I don't feel isolated because the people who are close to me help me to keep my feet on the ground.

One day you said that you wanted to get in a therapy program. Have you done that in the end?

Mariah: My therapy are my acting lessons. Before my first relationship I needed to talk about my about my childhood that I never evoqued. I've succeded to relief my pain with music. Today I use acting as a means of expressing my feelings. I'd need to go visit a therapist though, but can wait. A well-known actor was recently telling me that once you become famous you have to get in therapy. You become a strange animal. I totally share his point of view.

When did you realize that you had an extraordinary voice?

Mariah: It's my mother who realized it first. She was an opera singer and she was practising "Rigoletto" for weeks. One day she made a mistake and she heard me saying "no mom, it's not like that". Then I started singing in Italian in the right tone. She looked at me and was stunned. I was about 3 and a half years old and I was sining all the time. Even at night I used to take the portable radio from our kitchen, hide it under my pillow and pass the night singing all by myself. I couldn't sleep. I began to have insomnia that I still have since then. I have to take sleeping pills in order to sleep single for four hours. One day, I was about 7 years old, I was with a friend of mine and we were singing on our way to school. She stopped in the middle of the pavement to hear me "It sounds like there's music behind your voice", she told me. It was then when I realized that I might have a beautiful voice.

Which ones were your favourite singers?

Mariah: My brother and my sister where older than me and they made me discover Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and alater, Michael Jackson.

Is there a kind of music that you don't like?

Mariah: I appreciate the opera, because I think that the opera singers are the biggest technicians, but I listened to it so much as a child that I blocked it away. I can always appreciate the power of an interpretation, but it doesn't touch me deep inside.

It seems like you don't like it when people say that you have a "black" voice. Why? It's rather a compliment.

Mariah: It isn't exactly like that. I don't like it when they say that I'm a white girl with a "black" voice because it's wrong. My father is black and my mother is Irish. I have "black" blood in my veins so I don't sing "like" a black girl. This isn't obvious on my skin so that's where the confusion comes from.

You write most of your songs. Do you write when you're filled with inspiration?

Mariah: It often comes during the night. Once a melody comes to me I record it so I won't forget it. I don't know how to read music and I barely play the piano. I took lessons when I was little but it didn't suit me. They wanted to make me learn to play the piano with a methong. I had a very good ear and I was cheating by playing the pieces instinctivly and without reading the notes. In a sense it helps me, because sometimes I find things that a real piano player wouldn't nessesarily think of. Often I have a melody in my head and I hum to a musician friend saying "this is what I'm hearing, play it for me". My mother accepted that I stopped taking piano lessons. She was very artistic, very liberated, a little bohemian. She let me do what I wanted to do. If she was a little more strict my life would have been easier but I regret for nothing.

But you say that you hated your childhood?

Mariah: I didn't hate it. Certain aspects of it were difficult. An interacial marriage wasn't the easiest thing and even less when my parents divorced. My brother and my sister suffered more than me, but I experienced moments that most of the children don't know. And it's alright. Terrible fightst in the house, figths on the block... But I don't like to talk about it because I'm not the only one involved. I don't want to create glory out of what my brother and sister had to go through. My childhood definitly made me feel that I was different.

Your father left when you were three years old. Did he try to contact you again after your huge success?

Mariah: My parents divorced after a compromise. They simply weren't made for each other. We are so different... He's an aeronautical engineer, he's very "technical" and I'm exactly the opposite. For a long time I only saw him on Sundays. I see him more now. I want to know him better, to learn his point of view on the history of our family. I met his mother, an old black woman who lived in Harlem and who gave all her money away in order to send him to university. I found his father too. He's Venezuelan and he's remarried. I know very little things about my mothers family because she was disinherited after marrying a black man. They were very strict Irish catholics. When I was little I used to ask if it was my fault that my mothers family had disinherited us. If my parents union was "bad", what was I then? My father was never involved in my careey, he doesn't even know my music... He only found out last year that I was number 1...

Even if he doesn't say anything he must be increadibly proud of you?

Mariah: I hope so... I don't know... but I hope so. He doesn't watch TV, he doesn't listen to the radio. He never says anything about it, nor did he ever ask for anything.

(Paris Match)

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