Whitney and Mariah Team Up On Hit Tune `When You Believe'
When word got out that Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey were teaming up for a duet, music lovers everywhere knew they were in for a real musical treat.
And the two superstar divas certainly aim to please by serving fans a real, soulful feast on their smash duet When You Believe.
The song, produced by hitmaker Babyface, is featured on the soundtrack for the animated Biblical movie The Prince of Egypt and has become an immediate hit on pop and soul charts.
The inspirational song is included on both of their new albums-Whitney's My Love Is Your Love, her first studio album in eight years, and Mariah's #1's, a collection of her No. 1 hit singles.
"A powerful ballad; (songwriter) Stephen Schwartz is a genius," says Whitney about the song. "You have to be a child of God to understand the depth of this song. Mariah and I did it as we felt it."
Mariah explains in her album liner notes why she chose to put the tune on her album. "Because to me, it almost is a miracle that Whitney and I are on a record together! After meeting and working with Whitney Houston, I have gained a whole other layer of respect for this truly talented woman in so many ways."
And forget those rumors about a rivalry between the two ladies of song. The super-talented vocalists clicked immediately in the studio and have become fast sister-friends.
They also recently made their first joint appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Whitney describes their musical friendship in EBONY'S December issue.
"I enjoyed working with her very much," Whitney tells EBONY.
She points out, "Mariah and I got along very great. We had never talked and never sang together before. We just had a chance for camaraderie, singer-to-singer, artist-to-artist, that kind of thing. We just laughed and talked and laughed and talked and sang in between that ... It's good to know that two ladies of soul can still be friends."
Whitney sings up a soulful, hip hop contemporary storm on her new album. She has assembled some of the hottest producers to contribute to the album, which is winning her new fans and satisfying her older fans.
Among those lending a hand are musician-producer Wyclef Jean of the Fugees fame, who produced the title tune My Love Is Your Love.
"What can I say?" Whitney notes. "Just a beautiful song. What a lyric! I can't talk about it--just listen to it"
Babyface, who produced the Houston-Carey duet, also contributed several other cuts, including Until You Come Back and You'll Never Stand Alone.
"Babyface is a mind reader," she notes of Until You Come Back. "How I feel about my husband. Period."
Young hip hop producer Rodney Jerkins kicks off Whitney's album with the first tune, It's Not Right, But It's Okay. "It's a funky, up-tempo thing, gets you moving-in more ways than one. I think every woman feels this way at one time or another," Whitney says.
Other highlights include Heartbreak Hotel featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price. "These artists can sing," exclaims Whitney. "I had so much tim with it, I'd probably still be there. As for the title, I've stayed in that place before, but I checked out."
While Whitney is delighting her audience with her first nonmovie soundtrack album in eight years, Mariah is thanking her fans with her new album featuring 13 of her No. 1 singles. Appropriately titled #1's, Mariah dedicates the album to the fans who have supported her since day one.
"This is not a greatest hits album," she says in the liner notes. "It's too soon. I haven't been recording long enough for that! This album is a `thank you' and an acknowledgment of my gratitude to all of you out there for making these records #1 on the charts."
The album features hits like Vision of Love, Dreamlover, Hero, Fantasy, One Sweet Day and Honey.
In addition to her duet with Whitney, the songbird's new album also features three other newly recorded tracks like Sweetheart, with hip hop superstar Jermaine Dupri,Whenever You Call, a duet with Brian McKnight, and I Still Believe.
And just as Whitney has become a major actress, Mariah is hoping for the same kind of luck and acceptance. She will reportedly work with comedian-actor Chris Tucker in the movie Double O Soul.
Meanwhile, her fans can see the platinum-selling songstress on her upcoming TV special, "Mariah Carey Around the World," slated to air Dec. 15.
As When You Believe continues to climb the charts, the two songbirds are already thinking about teaming up again on other musical ventures.
"We talked about doing other things together, enterprise-wise, which is cool, because she's got a good, vivid mind, that girl," Whitney tells EBONY. "She's a smart lady. I really like Mariah."
Whitney is winning new fans and rave reviews with her sizzling, soulful album My Love Is Your Love. It is her first studio album in eight years. Two of her last albums, The Preacher's Wife and Waiting to Exhale, were soundtracks from the hit movies of the same titles.
Mariah thanks her fans for their loving support with her new album #1's, which is also winning rave reviews and is a hot-seller. The album features her 13 No. 1 hits.
The musical twosome met for the first time in the studio when they recorded their hit When You Believe, the theme song from the upcoming movie The Prince of Egypt.
They have become close friends. Says Whitney, "We just laughed and talked and laughed and talked and sang in between that . It was a good feeling, and it's good to know that two ladies of soul can still be friends."
|The Vibe Q Higher and Higher
Mariah's mama told her she was going to hurt herself is she kept belting out those high notes. But the girl wouldn't listen. Now she can't rest until she takes it to the next level-where ever that is
Dewy and still damp from the shower, Mariah Carey has put on a little powder and a little mascara. Her big mane is wet and close to her scalp. She's in blue boxers and a tank and is listening to old Stevie Wonder. It's midnight, and we're 40 miles north of San Francisco. While we split a bottle of merlot and munch on Monterey Jack cheese, Mariah seems very much like the kind of 28 year old who could sell more than 5 million albums when she was just out of high school. Since that 1990 introduction, she's gone on to sell more than 80 million albums. Married a mogul almost twice her age. Got divorced she was old enough to be too mad about it. Started and walked away from her own record label. Dated one of the best athletes in America. Always endured much mulatto melodrama. Now she's recorded a big ballad with Whitney Houston as she prepares to release her new album; tentatively titled The Ones-a collection of all 13 of her No. 1 pop singles, plus four bonus tracks. All to say that the best-selling female recording artist of the decade seems confident yet slightly mystified. Ecstatic but slightly troubled. Expansive and slightly paranoid. Bossy yet gracious.
She's fighting a copyright lawsuit, getting ready to star in films, and still singing all the time. Miss Mariah-much dissed, much loved-makes jokes but isn't one. Like her new single with Jermaine Dupri, she seems a big "Sweetheart." But while she floats like a butterfly, one get the impression she can only sting like a bee. My doctor showed me my vocal chords and why I can hit those high notes. It's a certain part of the chord that not many people use-the very top. My natural voice is low. I have a raspy voice. I'm really more of an alto, But my airy voice can be high if I'm rested.
How did you come to be using that part of your chords?
When I was little, I'd listen to Minnie Riperton.
"Back down memory lane..." Exactly. I used to hear it in the car sometimes. I would get her records, and I tried but I never could do it. When I was little, I 'd talk in this really high whisper, and my mom would be like, "You're being ridiculous." I thought if I can talk like that I can sing like that. So I started [she goes higher and higher] just messing around with it. I'd practice and practice, and she'd be like, "Your gonna hurt yourself." I'd tell her, It doesn't hurt. If I were to try and belt two octaves lower than that, that would be a stain.
Tell me about the new single with Jermaine.
Remember that song "Sweetheart" by Rainy Davis? It's a remake of that. I was like, Jermaine, let's do a remake. I was thinking of the old songs I used to when I was in school. It's a really cute record. Young girls'll like it the way I liked it when I was growing up.
Tell me about the song you did with Whitney.
I wish I could tell you more about it, but unfortunately, Kenneth [she uses her fingers to make quotation marks] "Babyface" Edmonds has that under wraps. We've done our vocals, but he's in the process of changing it around. I kinda liked it the way it was. It's called "When You Believe," for The Prince of Egypt soundtrack.
One of those big ballads... It's a very big ballad but in an inspirational way. The movie is about Moses. That she and I came together on this particular song is important. It's not just like, Here we are, Divafest '98... I don't think we're trying to outsing each other. You really do hear the differences in our voices.
What are the differences? She has a really rich, strong mid-belt that very few people have. She sounds really good, really strong. I guess I sound airier and lighter that her.
Was it dramatic being in the studio with her?
Not at all.
You guys are supposed to have this rivalry...
You know what's funny? When I came out, people had comments. That had a lot to do with me being put with producers she'd worked with. When you're a young girl, you don't have control, and you're being marketed as the New Little Diva.
And there's already a Diva. You guys never had beef?
I never even really talked to her until this. We never had any issues between us. The media and everybody made it an issue. Over the years, as I got more control over my music, I did my own thing. I don't think we even do similar things at this point.
But I mean, if we were talking about the pop princess of the late 80's and early 90's...
I didn't come out until the 90's [laughter]. And I hope to be around past the 90's. I don't want to just be categorized as "of this era." My goal is to have a career that stands. Otherwise, what's the point?
You feel you have a lasting talent.
I hope that people feel that way. I know I have a lasting need and desire to sing. That's what fuels me. Getting into acting is something I've always wanted to do. I've been studying since I was a little girl, and now I'm looking forward to it. I'm not looking at it like, I'm Mariah Carey. Put me in a movie. I'm a star. Of course I would love that, but I'm looking at smaller films, smaller rolls.
What kind of stuff did you do as a kid?
Plays. I had the roll of Maria in The Sound of Music.
Sixth grade. [She sings] "Doe a deer / A female deer" [laughter].
You did "My favorite things"!
[Sings] "Raindrops on roses / And whiskers on kittens."
You should make a remake of that.
Maybe for a Christmas album one year. I used to love that song... I studied acting at, like an actors' workshop. My mother was an opera singer and was very supportive of everything artwise.
Did you listen to a lot of opera when you where a kid?
Nooooooooooooo. Only what my mother was singing around the house.
Movie stuff though...what's really about to happen?
The thing I can talk about is gonna be the one where I sing, my musical thing. I'm gonna write the music. Kate Lanier [Set it Off( New Line Cinema, 1996); What's Love got to Do With It(Touchstone Pictures, 1993)] is going to write the screen play. I'm really excited about that. It's a love story. I'm going to be writing the songs or choosing the remakes that follow along with the situation. That project's on the fast track. I'm not going into the studio again until it's done But that's what I said before this number ones thing came up. But hey, everybody knows I'm a workhorse, so...
What is with being in the studio all the time?
I guess it's because I've always had this very... I don't want to call it ambitious, but...anxious state of being. I always feel like if I don't do This, then maybe something will go wrong. Like, maybe I better do This-if you know what I mean.
I do. But to call Mariah Carey prolific is an understatement. People just don't record as much as you do. Six full albums in eight years. Whitney's new album is her first full album in eight years.
But [Sony] would put out like only four singles from one of my albums. Where, like a Janet, [Virgin] would put out, like, seven, and they'd be working the same album for, like two years. But with me it was like, "Get in the studio! More records! Sing! Sing!"
But your albums had just as many singles.
Uh-uh. Nope. Look at it from the first album on. Like on my MTV Unplugged, which sold ten million, there was just "I'll Be There." I feel like I did have many more singles on some of those albums... That's why when people were like, "Oh she's jumping the R&B bandwangon, "I said, I wish people would just listen to some of the other cuts on my albums that were never promoted. Then they would understand my favorite songs were songs that never got any light...
"Underneath the Stars" on Daydream is one of my favorite songs I've ever written. On the first albums there's "Sent From up Above" that was very R&B and that was never released. To many for me to even name. Even with Butterfly, technically, only two singles were released: "Honey" and "My All"
Do you have a say in all that stuff?
Everybody swung it like I didn't want to put something out because I wouldn't accept less than a No. 1 Pop Single. That's not even true. Like I didn't want to "break a streak." My streak was broken a long time ago. I don't even have a streak. I had five number ones, then I had records that didn't got to number one. Whatever. I wanted to put out "Breakdown" with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. That was a no-brainer. Release it. I'll always be upset "Breakdown" never got it shot.
Is that personal to Mariah? or is that label bullshit?
I think that a lot of people-and I'm saying anything personal to the label-have had these issues.
You got signed as a kid, you grow up in front of the execs, and they're used to dealing with you like you're seventeen. I can only imagine that it's a struggle to make people understand, I'm not a kid. This is my shit.
I was even saying it then. I was very precocious. The thing that allows people to press my buttons is that they know I care. People will take advantage of the fact that I don't screw things up.
You want to win.
They know that in my mind, part of winning is going to the next place. Not status wise, just the next place in life. I've tried to be assertive. To be like, Please tell me what's the plan. It's difficult when there are personal relationships involved.
For a long time I was not allowed to assert myself. But I'm not all Oh, pity me, poor little singing girl. We make choices, and we live by them. But sometimes when you make choices when your really young...like if you have a child when you're still a child, you raise that child; you love that child. I know people who did that, and they would never trade that choice for the world. Like I would never trade my career-which is my child-for the world.
No matter how it went down, it's yours.
Yes. It's mine and it's a blessing that I have it.
What's gonna happen with Crave Records?
The story was swung was like Sony shut the label down on me. They did not. I don't run companies. I'm a creative person, someone there to help make records. Like Allure with "All Cried Out." Most new labels don't have a Top Five record their first time out. If anything I feel guilty about the artists. Seven Mile got folded in 550/Sony. Allure are at Sony also. I'm powerful in my own way, but when you work inside a company, you're controlled by the corporate heads. I'm not a numbers person. This was not my idea. It was sprung on me.
Whose idea was it?
[She smiles; seems a code for her ex-husband, Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola]
[She raises her glass] Cheers. I'm not mad at anything. I was just mad that people thought [Sony] took it away from me because my groups didn't hit. That is not the case.
Or they think you and Tommy had fallen out and he wasn't with you anymore.
Well, eat, drink, dance-whatever. People are going to think what they want to think, and I'm not going to confirm that. [Smiles]
So I've been reading about you new freedom or liberation or whatever. Everybody's been asking you, "What's it like hanging out with Puffy?"
That is all ridiculous and hoopla and hype. We were at one club one time. Every single article is the same picture.
I know it's fun to party and you've been doing that, but I'm curious about what lessons you learned from being married at such a young age? What would you say to a girl who's like, nineteen and says I'm gonna marry a guy in his forties?
I don't even know what lessons I've learned. [Long pause] I've learned... What have I learned? I have to think about this for a minute. This is getting into shaky territory...but since I was a little girl I never wanted to get married. I was never going to get married. I would tell my mom, and she she'd say, "Don't say that. Your gonna get married."
We all are.
We all do. I was like, Well, you got divorced. I had a phobia about it. This whole [divorce] has only intensified that phobia. I guess I've been hardened by the situation, because the hardest part about it, even during the whole marriage, was not having...the friendship. Because the truth of the matter is-and I know he hates it when I talk about him, but he know it's true because I just said it to him the other day-when he's being cool, I enjoy him as a friend. [Long pause]
The way that I am, I get pushed to a wall and then I attack. It's a gradual process for me because I am so cautious and so careful. But once you get me to that point, it's over and I can't turn back. That's been my defense mechanism my whole life. I give people a chance. I would love to have someone that I trust full. But I guess we all kind of re-create what we saw was wrong when we were children. I think in my own little way, by feeling I was doing the opposite, I was doing the same thing.
You know how common that is? Something else that's common among female mega- stars is the lack of trust. People feel like it's something that happens because you get to be large. But do you get large...
Because I don't trust anybody? I think yes. Since I was a little girl I had this desire to be a "star," for lack of a better term, because I felt inadequate in a lot of ways, because I didn't feel pretty, because I felt unstable...in terms of moving around a lot.
Were you at different schools all the time?
Maybe I ended up in three or four. My mother was there for me. She had a tough time, she worked very hard, and she envolved into a better, stronger person. I admire her a lot. But when I was growing up I was on my own a lot. That feeling has driven me to be who I am. That's what keeps me in the studio album after album. I wish I could have that other kind of mentality that's like, Whatever. But I know I'll get there and it won't be right. I know this attitude comes out of a) insecurity and b) the way I felt growing up and c) knowing it's never going to be right unless I do it myself.
If you don't do it yourself, it's not gonna be right-where does that come from?
You're supposed to be passive and let others take control. A lot of times when I meet people, they are surprised, like,"Oh, you know that?" I couldn't do this and not have some degree of intelligence.
And you have been doing this for years. What makes you extremely happy?
These days? I've been in a depressed week, so it's hard for me to think-and I hate saying that because...
Because then it'll be MARIAH IS DEPRESSED!
I hate that, but I also feel ungrateful when I say that. I should feel blessed. I used to read about stars complaining, and I'm thinking...I'd kill to have one hundredth of what you have. How dare you be unhappy?
But don't you have to allow yourself to be sad?
I know! What makes me really happy is when I'm in good voice and I go onstage and I do my best.
Is there a life outside of your profession?
There was for a minute. And there is when I go out at night and have jokes and have fun. I don't enjoy moping. I always have jokes. Even when I'm crying I'll make up something stupid and laugh through it.
[Sad smile] Mm-hmm.
Was that real?
So this is not a happy time.
I love his family. I think he has a beautiful family. I care about his sister a lot. We connected because we had similar backgrounds.
How did you guys meet?
At a fund-raiser.
Celebrity meeting place. He's a nice guy?
He's a nice guy.
What do you look for in a guy?
Right now I feel so untrusting of men in general. I went from high school to full-blown work to being in a relationship with a much older man.
Do you have that advice that I mentioned earlier? If my cousin Ahmber came to you and said she was in love with a forty-year old guy...
How old is she?
I would say, Are you guys in the same business?
How much control do you have over you own stuff?
I have a lot, but I think he has a lot too.
Over your stuff?
Yes. I'm kind of in it, but he know a lot more than me because he's forty.
I would say, Just sit back and think about everything before you do it. But you know what? Love is love and life is life and circumstances are circumstances. And all those things come into play.
Definition of independence?
Not feeling confined. Having the ability to run your own life, being responsible for your own actions.
Definition of love?
Fully and unconditional trust of another. The desire to be with them all the time, but the knowledge that you shouldn't be with them all the time, and the ability to separate yourself. And to come back to them.
I don't have enough experiences to answer that question.
My own experiences with love and lust? Don't have that many. Sorry, it's not exciting.
You know that's bananas. You know people are gonna be like, "Tommy Mottola, Derek Jeter, Puff Daddy..."
Two people! Only two people. Hanging out with Puff Daddy-that ain't even in this. Q- Tip? No! That does not exist. Leonardo? None of that! There are two people that are real- that's it. If people think I'm lying, sorry. I wish I could say I was lying I think it's pathetic! [Laughing] I think I'm a jackass! A moron!
What's the hold up?
First of all with diseases and stuff out there I'm not tryin' to be in everybody's bed. Try that one.
It's not just all free love.
[Laughter] It's not all swing this way, swing that way, swing my way, shorty. I'm very protective of myself in that way. I've seen too many people die and be affected by AIDS. For me to get really close to someone I have to trust them or feel some strong connection. Everyone I start with, somehow it gets spoiled...
Because you're Mariah Carey?
I don't want to fall back on that, but maybe so. I don't know. Maybe I'm just a little ridiculous. When would I have the time? Under the scrutiny I was under? Being married to who I was married to? In the studio? Writing songs? Producing an album every year? Basically, I drive from my my house to my mom's house, which was, like, twenty minutes away. I've been separated for like a year and a half now, and you're saying that in that period I've been...
Buck wild crazy!
With all the movie stars. All the fat guys.
No. With the "hard-partying rap posse." That's what they wrote in the New York Post. MARIAH'S SEXCAPADES was the headline. Just the terminology is ridiculous. I'm like, What is my life right now? Why am I waking up and seeing my face next to SEXCAPADES on the front cover? [Laughter] And then you read it and there's no sex!
So you're going to be alone for years?
No! I hope not. I wish I could find someone tomorrow who I could trust and who would care about me and understand me. I'm the girl next door in a lot of ways, but I'm more complex.
A little! The fact that you've probably got, like eight trillion in the bank...
No, not quite eight trillion. Don't forget I paid for half that house. People don't realize that. An that cost quite a pretty penny. Much more than they write it costs [reportedly $2 million]. An I lost quite a pretty penny on that. Not like I'm near broke, but I am crazy cautious.
Do you ever still trip off the whole black/white thing?
Yesterday we were driving away from Summer Jam. There was so much love in the air. It's predominantly black crowd, but it was racially mixed. People were outside waiting to say goodbye and get autographs and stuff and this one guys says, "Mariah are you black or white?"
That's classic for you, no?
Classic! And I was like, I'm mixed baby! But I'm not offended. The fact that they felt confortable enough to ask me is good. I guess I've come to terms with it. I'm mixed. That's what it is. If you want me to define it, I can only say my father is African-American and Venezuelan. My mother is white; Irish from the Midwest. So I am mixture of these things. I'm not in denial of either of them. But it's not like I'm running around kissing a Blarney Stone, thinking I'm Irish [laughter]. Anybody who's mixed knows they're of the black race. It's all right for some reason to say Japanese and black or Japanese and Italian or Chinese and Swedish. But the minute you say black and white...
All over the place. But my family is like a potpourri of color.
So many fams are like that.
I know. But I didn't know many fams like that when I was a kid. So it made me feel outside. But not anymore.
|From Mirabella magazine
About her performance in "The Bachelor"
"It's over the top. I'm singing La Traviata, which is a highly dramatic opera-and my character dies at the end of the scene. The director said, "Okay, you need a stunt double for that [fall] right?" And I said, "Nah, I can do that," not realizing that I was going to have to do 30 more takes. My hips, my knees were killing me. A medic had to bring me ice, and I was like, "Never again."
|From Looks Magazine
Mariah Carey - The self-confessed shoe addict shares her style secrets
Her sweet voice has built her a multimillion-dollar empire which allows her to buy all the designer shoes she desires. 'You could describe me as an emotional shopper. No matter what kind of day, good or bad, I hit the stores!' she laughs. With music being her number one priority, Mariah doesn't care if she ends up on a magazine's Worst Dressed list. 'My focus has always been on my craft, my music,' she says. 'Dressing up and working with designers is a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, I'm still a singer/songwriter. I think there are some artists who have taken the fashion thing a bit too seriously and it has hurt their careers. I don't want people to say: "She wears her hat well in that shot, "I want them to say, "Isn't that new Mariah Carey song great?"
Where do you think your shoe fetish stems from?
We didn't have much money when I was growing up, so I wore the worst clothes and I only had one pair of shoes, complete with holes in them! They were black, lace-up shoes and caused my feer hell in the cold winter months. They are still hanging up in my closet as a momento. I could never throw them out. Now, I own more shoes than I will ever wear!
Who are are your favourite fashion designers?
I love the classic looks bye Chanel, Gucci, Armani and Givenchy. I try to stay away from all the trendy 'look of the moment' stuff. I plan on singing 20 years from now and I don't want to look back on these times and think I looked like a fool!
You obviously work out. Do you have a set regime that you live by?
Well, a few years ago I went through a phase where I enjoyed the good life too much. You know, good food, fine wines and too many desserts and I became voluptuous than I wanted to be.
I don't work out right now because I'm recording and when I sing I can't do much exercise. I don't have enough stamina to do what I need to do. I have that weird kind of muscular body type, where if I train hard for two weeks I can relax for a while, it's bizarre... I could become a bodybuilder, if I wanted [laughs].
What are your exercise rituals?
I run on the treadmill and do sit-ups every morning. I like to do leg raises and push-ups. My brother Morgan is a personal trainer in Los Angeles, so he's always on hand to give me some professional advice. But I find that if I work out too hard, I have no energy left for singing... and let me tell you, that is a workout in itself!
Do you feel the need to continually improve the way you look in each of your videos?
See, I don't think that my videos are focused on my body very much, or any kind of sexuality. I like to have fun in my videos. But yeah, it's hard to be in the public eye, because people do scrutinise you. Somebody took a picture of me on the video set and it wasn't the most flattering angle. Then they wrote in the paper: 'She's had an obvious weight gain due to her stessful life'. I'm like: 'Weight gain?' If anything, I've lost weight, you know, because I never eat as I'm working so hard. People are gonna say what they're gonna say! I can't really obsess about it. It took ages for me to feel confident enough to let go of a lot of things.
How do you like to dress when you're not all dolled up, ready to perform?
It's funny, people come up to me and tell me I look like Mariah Carey all the time, even when I'm not in 'uniform'. When I'm not doing interviews, I will usually wear a baseball hat and braids because most of the time I don't feel like dealing with my hair, especially in humid weather.
Let's talk about your diet. What do you like to eat?
I used to be a vegetarian but I have a weakness for grilled shrimp, crab cakes and chicken! I generally try not to diet. When I'm over tired or working a lot, the only thing I feel like eating is McDonald's cheeseburgers and fries.
What's in your dressing room when you're on tour?
It's actually in my contract to have my dressing room filled with Cristal champagne, Quaker Fat Free Apple Cinnamon Rice Cakes, Bel Arbons red wine and fruit. I also love lemon zinger and carmomile tea.
Is it true that when you're in Britain you bring your own Coca-Cola?
[laughs] Yeah. Does that sound pretentious? The UK formula is different to the American version.
What's the cosmetic you keep in your handbag at all times?
I absolutely love my MAC lip pencil in 'Spice'
Do you have a special make-up regime?
I don't like to wear a lot of make-up when I'm not working, I tend to go for the neutral shades of brown for my eyes and cheeks. I never leave my house, even if I'm not working, without a coat of black mascara on my lashes. It really gives me that 'wide awake' look.
What's your best-kept beauty secret?
My humidfier which I keep backstage. It prevents my skin from drying out.
What has been your biggest ever beauty mistake?
When I was 12, I tried to lighten my hair but I didn't know how to use peroxide. The package said 'Golden Blond', which I thought would turn out a nice colour. I was horrified when my hair turned a brighter shade of orange. It was so embarrassing. I had to live with it for a year, until it finally grew out!
What's the funniest rumour you've ever heard about yourself?
That I was seeing Donald Thump [laughs]. He's a great guy, but I haven't seen him in two years. And I was like, 'What?'
I imagine you're linked to just abotu anyone you speak to nowadays...
Yeah, you know, you bump into somebody in the elevator, suddenly you're moving in!
The Caged Bird Sings
By Steven Daly
Like every tragic heroine, Mariah Carey traded freedom for fame, creativity for commercial success. Now she's writing her own script and the ending has shifted from bitter to sweet.
One story above the rush-hour gush of Manhattan's West Side Highway, Mariah Carey is giving glamour. Despite the fact that she awoke in Florida at 5.30 this morning to catch a plane, the singer has been gamely exuding high-tone sex appeal for six hours straight. Carey absentmindedly mouths along to the words of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Going Back To Cali" as she smiles seductively and extends a honeyed thigh through a fringed Native American skirt.
This is not the Mariah Cary we used to know, the supplicant supplier of MOR soul ballards tailored to a dog-bothering vocal range. Nowadays the 28-year-old Carey collaborates with the likes of Sean "Puffy" Combs, Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest), Mase and Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony; and she'll crop up on MTV, introducing personal favourites like Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes. "Early on in my career I was just as influenced by hip hop and R&B, but it wasn't encouraged," says Carey, adding enigmatically, "people just didn't understand."
Sartorially too, there has been a remarkable change in the woman who, by her own admission, used to dress in a "potato sack". In the video for last year's Combs-produced "Honey", Carey was the first performer to wear those metal-heeled Gucci stilettos; in her clip for "The Roof" she camped it up Eighties-style in Sergio Valenti jeans and a Farrah flip; recently she hired Halston savant Randolph Duke as her tour couturier. Contrary to the normal pop star career arc, Mariah Carey is actually hipper now than when she first entered the public arena.
A few blocks away in Chelsea hot boite Lot 61, a bottle of iced Cristal champagne awaits the arrival of Miss Carey. The well heeled after-work crowd mingles beneath a huge Damien Hirst painting while Air's Moon Safari tinkles in the background. The diva and her entourage sweep into the restaurant's capacious, citizen-free backroom and she dumps a bamboo-handled Gucci bag onto a zebra-skin banquette. Carey sprawls out, charges her glass and works her mobile phone with all the "player" brio of her friend Puffy. Carey juggles phone calls, many from friends congratulating her on the previous night's successful interview with "shock-jock" Howard Stern. "Call me at two, OK?" the insomniac Carey tells one caller.
Amid bubbling laughter she makes plans for later this evening with a couple of girlfriends: she'll grab some takeaway from her favourite restaurant (a fancy Chinese joint) then pick up the ladies at a Queens hair salon before cruising out to Brooklyn with them, probably reciting their favourite routines from the repertoire of crude phone-pranksters the Jerky Boys. A raucous tour of New York's less fashionable outer boroughs is an unlikely after-dark agenda for an international platinum princess, but the 1998 model Mariah Carey is out for laughs.
An unbiased hedonist aesthetic suffuses Carey's videos these days, with the subtle twist that the camera - contrary to the rent-a-babe player formula - fetishes the star herself. Again, Carey complains that she was "never able to work with the directors I wanted before". In the face of this recurring complaint one cannot help but bluntly ask: what on earth was the problem?
"Life can be funny that way," Carey responds, an ironically chipper inflection on her husky voice.
Which can in turn lead to but one conclusion: that the inhibiting influence in Carey's life - the main "person" among the "people" she's indicating - must have been her former husband Tommy Mottola. As Carey's Svengali, and the president of her record company Sony, the allegedly brutish and controlling Mottola, 49, is widely supposed to have been the artistic ball-and-chain that Carey has lately ditched. This has to be supposed, because Carey routinely stonewalls questions about what is after all an ongoing - and extremely lucrative - relationship. Although her post-breakup album Butterfly celebrates emotional emancipation and unfettered self-expression, Mariah Carey is loathe publicly to slight the man who transformed her from a callow suburban teen to a sophisticated songbird with worldwide album sales of over 80 million.
Last February Carey, who has her own film in development, embarked on a series of acting lessons. But even before she could do a few basic scene-readings there was one huge problem to overcome.
"When I first went to my acting coach I was so tense, so uptight - my shoulders were up like this" says Carey hunching herself up. "I was a complete stressfest! I suffer from dermotographism, which means my skin is sensitive to all kinds of things, like sunlight and salt and stress - you could write your name in red on my arm.
"My coach uses certain relaxation techniques. She told me: 'Create a place in your mind where you feel safe, where no one's gonna mess with you, where you feel completely in control and at ease' and I had no place. She said I could even use something from my childhood, so I started thinking back, and every place from my childhood had some sort of memory attached to it that made me sad. And I didn't have anything present-day that made me feel comfortable or in control. That was how my life was at the time."
As she examines the Lot 61 menu Carey uses a moist towelette to dispatch any lurking germs that might threaten her precious pipes. Upon finding that much of the restaurant's fare will aggravate her skin condition, she orders plain white rice. When the tiny dish arrives, she barely nibbles at it.
Carey's shall we say specific dietary requirements, along with the insomnia and the germ-phobia, tally with her reputation as an unforgiving taskmistress. A bitch on wheels, if one was to believe a substantial cross-section of New York's stylists and production assistants who claim to have been put through the grinder by Miss Butterfly. Carey, who is never less than genial in the context of this interview, explains what might be at the root of this perception. "I'm very driven because I feel so unstable in my childhood," she says. "And I'm driven because I feel if I don't handle things myself, they won't be done the way I want them to be done. Because I write and produce, nobody can answer a question for me. I mean, my 'executive assistant' can't tell them how loud I want the vocals in a mix.
"And people might take this the wrong way, but I still don't feel financialy secure," says Carey, who's staying in a furnished apartment while she and Mottola sell their $10 million mansion (with 64-track studio) outside New York. People read '80 million records'. so they think $80 million, but you've got to pay your lawyers, your managers, all these people who suddenly have to work for you. Trust me, I realise how fortunate I am, but inside I still feel like the rug could be pulled out from under my feet at any time."
"How-ward! You keep up with that and I'm going to walk out!"
Mariah Carey is indulging her "almost masochistic" urge to step into the lion's den that is Howard Stern's combination radio/TV show. "They would never let me do this stuff before," she tells the big-haired host with a giggle. Once more, no names are ascribed to the ubiquitous "they".
Stern is renowned for a crude, badgering interview style that quicky seperates his guests into those who can take it and those who crumble. Mariah Carey can take it. She might look vulnerable tonight in her barely there mini-dress and strappy high heels, but Carey handles this Jerky Boy beautifully, slapping down single entendres and his lascivious enquiries about her rumoured relationships with Sean "Puffy" Combs and Q-Tip and, more recently, ample-thighed New York Yankee Derek Jeter. "How-ward! What would your wife say?" Carey screams, her voice regressing to the brassy bray of an unpolished Long Island teenager. Howard Stern doesn't scare Mariah Carey because she knows the type: both of these mass-culture phenomena grew up in "Lawn Guyland", the perpetually pissed-on province that looms over New York City like a shadow on a lung. Manhattan and Long Island enjoy a relationship similar to that of London and Essex: Long Islanders find their neighbours fake and pushy; to class-conscious Manhattanites, Long Islanders are more than a little gauche. As well as producing a disproportionate number of lowbrow celebraties like Billy Joel, Debbie Gibson and the Baldwin clan, Long Island is also a rich source of tablois crime stories, like serial killer Joel Rifkin, or Amy Fisher, the unpolished LI teenager who, after falling under the spell of a brutish and controlling Italian-American man, attempted to kill his wife.
Mariah Carey's Long Island childhood was not by any means standard-issue suburban. Her parents split up when she was three, and Carey was raised by her former opera-singer mother in various low-rent neighbourhoods. Since Carey's neer Dad was Venezuelan/African-American, the family attracted the attention of the type of people who today form part of Howard Stern's constituency: at various points the Careys had their car damaged by a bomb and their dogs poisioned. "I went through a lot of things, but I feel like it's getting on a soapbox to dwell on them," says Carey, picking at a bit of bread. "Whatever I went through made me a stronger and better person.
"I think the suburban thing made me feel like an outcast and an outsider; because everybody on Long Island is expected to be perfectly normal, exactly like everybody else. I'm not just one thing, racially or influence-wise; I'm not a one-dimensional person."
Long Island forged another of Carey's dualities, the urban/suburban tension which these days informs her music. Despite its green expanses and leafy avenues, LI moves to the asphalt-hard beat of New York radio stations: Carey grew up to the sound of hip hop and R&B strongholds like WBLS, KISS-FM and WKTU. A self-confessed "radio addict", she would groove to hits by Evelyn "Champagne" King and Rick James; and she says, "in the fifth grade I knew every word to 'Rapper's Delight'. Eric B and Rakim and Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick - all those people were staples of my high school years."
Before she was ten, the proto B-girl was hanging around her mother's jazz-musician friends; by 13 she was writing and performing her own songs. Carey eschewed college and moved to Manhattan at 17, taking menial jobs and working sporadically as a session singer. Her brother was a club bouncer, trainer and all-round networker who introduced her around town and helped her get gigs. "I was always 'Morgan's little sister'," recalls Carey, who shared her first apartment with four older girls. "I'd be around all these 25, 26 year olds - I'd come home from work at like five in the morning and they'd still be partying. They'd ask me 'Why do you work so hard?' And I'd think, 'Because when I'm your age I want to be already established and successful.'"
One night in 1988 Carey went to a music industry party to deliver a demo tape to Tommy Mottola of Sony. In true fairytale fashion he signed up the teenager and lavished untold millions on her career-launch; a couple of years later he left his wife for her. In June 1993 Tommy and Mariah were married at their mansion, in a lavish ceremony inspired by the nuptials of Charles and Diana.
Carey enjoyed global success with her 1990 debut single "Vision of Love", a high-impact, gospel-tinged showcase for her undeniably striking voice. And she continued to prosper with well upolstered material that boasted self-penned lyrics echoing the anodyne pop of the Fifties ("you" would inevitably rhyme with "true"; "follow" would always find a "tommorow"). As Carey racked up warehouses full of platinum discs, tracks like "Hero" and "Without You" seemed to follow the old Hollywood adage, "Start with a climax and build from there." Even so, among all those overblown key changes and too familiar melodies (Earth Wind and Fire's Maurice White was retroactively credited with part of the hit "Emotions"; another such claim was settled out of court) there was in the grain of Carey's voice an underclass angst that recalled the classic pop heartbreak of Ronnie Spector and Diana Ross.
Occasionally Mariah Carey even put out a straight-up pop classic herself, like the Puffy Combs remix of "Fantasy" that teamed the singer and her sample of Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" (a WKTU classic) with Wu-Tang Clan wild-card Ol' Dirty Bastard. Carey's decision to record with the then up-and-coming ODB did not go down well with Sony Executives, who'd probably have prefered a duet with Celine Dion. "People couldn't understand why I wanted to have someone rhyming on one of my records, they didn't see why I felt the need to have that. When you don't grow up with something you don't understand it," says Carey matter-of-factly.
"Everybody used to be very concernerd about my public image, but gradually it became less of an issue - ga-radually. The funny thing is, in a lot of ways I am a little goody-two-shoes girl: I have quite a few dichotomies in me.
"Back in junior high I was a tough girl who used to smoke cigarettes in the bathroom and slam girls into the lockers. But I was fake-bad, because I was copying a friend, and she did a lot of things that I didn't want to do. People thought I was this wild, tough chick - but I wasn't. And more recently people thought I was a goody two-shoes, but I'm not that either." In the wake of the Butterfly album, Carey's image is - thanks to a press that obligingly embraced the idea of shucking off "cocoons" and going on "solo flights" - that of an R&B Princess Di, a gutsy glamour-girl who's managed to flee an oppresive, high-profile marriage. If Carey's lyrics left any doubt, the aforementioned "Honey" video positively dripped with clues: a stiffly executed dramatic prelude shows Our Heroine escaping the clutches of a brutish and controlling Italian-American thug and his henchmen to find freedom in a bathing suit and Gucci heels. (This scenario was not Carey repeatedly insists, a dig at Mottola.)
Despite its patina of hipness, Butterfly is in reality only slightly more adventurous than Carey's earlier work (this time "pounding" is coupled with "resounding"). But the album does showcase Carey's natural affinity with the latest cultural modes, as in her seductive adaptation of Bone Thugs' quick-fire rhyme style ("Breakdown"). Carey also has the radio addict's unimpeachable ear for a hit; and since her own voice is the perfect pop-narcotic, she needs only to provide texture, not text.
It is an article of faith among entertainment folk that one never admits to being affected by the press. Which makes all the more surprising Mariah Carey's response to a mention of Vanity Fair's extrodinary character-assassination of Tommy Mottola. The long and detailed piece, which portrayed Mottola as a gun-toting, borderline psychopath with an unseemly Mafia fixation and an FBI file, ran in December 1996; the couple officially separated six months later.
"I wasn't amused at the Vanity Fair thing," says Carey with a sudden soberiety. "I'm a very forgiving person - even if someone's done something to me and I see them being hurt. I don't revel in that. I don't like it when it happens to me, when people attack my vulnerable areas. But it was a turning point in my life."
Carey's entourage begins to gather for her outer-borough tour, replete with Jerky Boys routines, takeaway food, and showbiz gossip. Would it be safe to say that for Mariah Carey the "stressfest" is over?
"Yes, I don't feel the same way anymore," she affirms. "Now I feel like I'm much closer to the person I was before all this happened. Now I'm trying to have fun - I don't wanna be old before my time. I don't want to be on stage in a freaking sequinned gown singing 'Hero' every night. Then again, I do still have the ballads - I'm not stupid."
Mariah Makes It Happen: The pop diva looks back on two tumultuous years and forward to the release of her new album, #1's.
by Judith Newman
Mariah Carey is sitting cross-legged on her bed in Bungalow 5A of The Beverly Hills Hotel-once the love nest for Yves Montand and Marilyn Monroe, and the site of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's more memorable vodka-fueled battles. But right now Carey, who crooned in her 1992 hit "Emotions" about "the way to make me loose control," is oblivious to the room's lustful history. "Watch this," she advises, while very gently scratching her forearm with and unvarnished fingernail. In less than a minute the invisible line, extending from her wrist to her elbow, has turned into an angry red welt. "It's called dermographia," she says with satisfaction. "Any little mark on my skin becomes red and raised." The condition is stress-related, she explains: "Today it's pretty good. It was really bad a couple of years ago." That would be about the time her marriage to Sony Music Entertainment president and CEO Tommy Mottola began to unravel.
Emotions written on skin. You could hardly dream up a more appropriate condition for a singer whose ballads of passion and pain have given chills to millions. Indeed, despite the wild success of her last album, Butterfly and the anticipation surrounding the release of her latest, #1's, a collection of her 13 number-one hits, the last two years of Carey's life would have given hives to far less sensitive souls. There was her divorce from Mottola, a man who apparently loved too much; her hasty rebound into the arms of drool-worthy Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, prompting accusations of earlier infidelity; the endless tabloid speculation about relationships with men ranging from Donald Trump to Leonardo DiCapro to Sean "Puffy" Combs; the collapse of Crave, her private label at Sony; the $1.5 million lawsuit filed by a limo driver who alleged she had reneged on $40,000 in unpaid bills, which is still pending-and endless reports of prima donna behavior, including and insistence on being photographed only on her right or "good" side. "A friend told me yesterday that the definition of diva is goddess/prima donna," she says with a grin. "So I you guess being called a diva could be an extreme compliment or a dis."
To her hard-core fans (and they are a very devoted group, to which dozens of swooning Internet sites attest), the details of her childhood are familiar. She grew up the multiracial daughter of an Irish-American mother and an African American/Venezuelan father. Her parents' marriage, fraught with noisy conflict, was over by the time she was three. Her mother, an opera singer, struggled to support Mariah and her older brother and sister by juggling different jobs, including managing a pet store and working as a vocal coach.
Another well-known chapter of the Carey saga is the early recognition of her vocal promise, as nurtured by her mother and promoted with steely determination by Carey herself. At 18, while working as a backup singer, she attended an industry party where she handed her tape to a powerful executive named Tommy Mottola. Mottola climbed into his limo, played the tape and drove back to find her. Carey signed with Columbia Records in 1989, and in the Nineties became a blur of platinum albums, provocative videos and awards. While sophisticates may view her music as so much operatic bubblegum, no one-not even Carey's own heroes, including Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Karen Clark, Vanella Bell Armstrong and Chaka Khan-has topped her sales figures, which currently exceed 80 million units.
Precisely when Carey became involved with already married Mottola, 20 years her senior, is a matter of some speculation; whatever timing, they wed in June 1993, and separated by May 1997. (A Sony spokesman now categorizes the ex-couple as having "a close professional working relationship.") It is clear that he remains much on her mind, as she regularly, and delicately, refers to "my previous situation" or "my past life." The context is usually "Well, in my previous situation, I couldn't..." or "In my past life, I was not allowed...."
It doesn't take a $200-an-hour shrink to conclude that for a child who grew up without a father around, there might be something comforting and secure about a controlling husband. Carey hints at similarities between them; her stories of separating from Mottola are oddly interwoven with memories of her father, who now lives in Washington, DC, and with whom she has only limited contact. She says she'd like her father to be a bigger part of her life.
Whatever Mottola's control over her life, Carey finds it "sexist" when people assume "because I was married to someone much older, who was involved in my career, that I was a kept woman." In fact, she always kept her finances separate from his. "I felt that splitting the house, the bills, everything, would make me more in charge of my life. As it turns out, I was-ahem-a little off in that assessment." Still, she is bothered that "people thought I was this little girl who was taken care of...the canary in a cage." While acknowledging "in a way, that's true," she hastens to point out: "The cage was half paid for by me!"
It may be a response to the overly "settled" quality of her life with Mottola that these days Carey owns nothing herself-not a car, not a house-and has enlisted a team of financial managers. But it's very difficult, she says, to find trustworthy advisers. "It always ends in disappointment," she observes, "and that's a sad thing." (Among the lawsuits brought by people she thought she could trust is on brought by her ex- stepfather for reneging on an alleged agreement to license a line of "Mariah dolls." The suit was dismissed.)
The troubles of the past few years have helped her learn how to deal with loss-sometimes simply by recognizing the absurdity of a situation. "Even when I'm in a moment of intense despair I'll think of some joke and I'll laugh," she explains. "I'll say, 'I don't have the right to be this upset." Carey believes that humor helped her maintain a sense of reality while trying to live up to Mottola's image of what she should be. "I wasn't allowed to be myself," she adds.
Clearly, the ability merely to be herself, and to trust , are hard-won struggles-which may explain her close relationship today with her mother. In the middle of our interview, Carey reaches fro the phone to call her mother, Pam, to check the accuracy of some of her childhood memories. "I'm so proud of her-she's lost 38 pounds," says Carey as she dials. "I got her this swimming pool, and-hi Mom!"
The moment she hears her mother's voice, Carey is visibly relaxes. Even at the most difficult times in her own life, Carey says, her mother "was always there for me. But it wasn't a traditional relationship. Sometimes she was the mom, and sometimes I was. We traded off." These days, Carey takes enormous pleasure in being able to provide her mother with things the family could not afford when she was growing up. Carey bought her mother not only a pool, but a house in upstate New York. "She had always rented houses, and never had one of her own. I really understand the importance of having something that's all yours," say the daughter quietly.
Carey is racking her brain trying to remember a weird dream she had the other night. "Wait, wait, it'll come to me if we talk about something else," she says. So we do. Carey is always pleased to mention her most favorite causes, most of which involve children. This fall, New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani named her celebrity spokesperson for the city's Children Adoptive Services department. Since 1994, she's played a similar role for The Fresh Air Fund, which dubbed a facility in upstate New York "Camp Mariah" to acknowledge her efforts on it's behalf. A less pleasant topic of discussions the relentless speculation about her post-Mottola love life. "Lies! I'm not seeing Leo DiCaprio, and I'm not seeing, and never will be seeing, Q-Tip [the rapper from A Tribe Called Quest], and there was never anything with Puffy [Sean Combs, the rapper and her sometime producer]." So all this wild party- girl stuff is just the fevered imagination of gossip columnists? All of it? "It's hard for me," says Carey. "I'm not very experienced for where I am in life. I had boyfriends in school that were not serious things. Then a marriage, at such a young age. Then, one other." Jeter? she nods. "I've never been out on a date like, when you meet a stranger, he says, 'Hi, would you like to got out to dinner?' an you say 'Sure.' Never. And when you get to this level [of celebrity], it's so hard to even be with anybody without hearing rumors. You hear rumors about them, they hear rumors about you." At the time of our interview, Carey says she is dating no one in particular.
Suddenly, she remembers her dream. "I was at a spa in Sonoma County, getting a massage, because sometimes that helps my insomnia, and I fell asleep." At this point Carey, being massaged, starts to dream, I told the masseuse that I had to go to the bathroom, and I'd be right back. She asked me, 'Do you want me to leave the light on for you?' And I said, 'No. You can leave the lights off. Because being in the dark equalizes us all.' What does that mean? I'm not sure." I'm not sure either, but if I had to guess, I'd say that sometimes, no matter how much you love being a diva, it's nice to be able to turn the spotlight off and be yourself. Normalcy has it's perks, too: friends you can trust; guys who will love you for yourself; family members who won't sue you.
As I was leaving, I noticed something funny: The whole time we'd been talking, she'd kept the light dimmed.
Mariah Carey's Beauty 101
Exercise She occasionally swims or uses a treadmill. "And I just bought a stationary bike. I'm not coordinated enough to bike around the streets of New York City."
Never with Cigarettes. "I smoked in school, but my voice can't take it."
Never without Claritin, MAC Spice lip pencil, lip gloss, Handi Wipes ("I can't afford to get sick, so I use them to wipe off germs.")
Most hated beauty regimen "Electrolysis. I have this special chair in my house for facials and electrolysis treatments. It's not fun, but it works."
|From Sidney Telegraph
Multiple Award-winning producer BABYFACE has squashed rumours of rivalry between supesrtar R&B divas WHITNEY HOUSTON and MARIAH CAREY.
The two octave-spanning singers have just recorded a duet for the upcoming animated feature, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT. Babyface described the song, called "When You Believe", as a "gospel-tinged power- ballad" that will be the theme song to the mvie, which is based on the biblical story of Moses.
Babyface denied rumours of tantrums by either of the singers and laid to rest the long standing idea of intense rivalry between Carey and Houston.
Asked which of the two divas had the biggest ego, he laughed and said "I don't know where this whole "rivalry" thing came from. I admit, when I agreed to do the song, I was nervous about it, but when we all got together, we just laughed! The two of them were... almost awe- struck in each other's presence."
When pressed to elaborate on the divas' behaviour in studio and of reports that there was friction, Babyface said "We had a great time. They both gave it everythng they had, and at times I was blown away by the sheer power of their voices together. At times they were giggling together like schoolgirls, and talking about what direction they wanted the song to go. I think, and I don't know if they want me saying this, but I think they were surprised by how much they had in common. It was a lot of fun, and it's a great song, so I feel really honoured to have worked with these two vocal stars on this particular song."
The red-hot producer declined to pick his favourite of the two divas, saying instead "I love them both, they are both incredibly talented and I could never pick between them."
Babyface also revealed that he will be doing producing duties on some songs for Houston's new album, her first full album of new material since 1990's I'M YOUR BABY TONIGHT. "We're very excited about it. Whitney wants the album to have a more "street" vibe, and we're working on some ideas now. It's gonna be something special."
The animated feature PRINCE OF EGYPT has been stirring up some controversy over the commercialisation of a biblical tale. When asked to respond to claims that the superstar teamup was yet another attempt to cash in on a sacred tale, the singer-producer responded "You need to hear this song to understand where it's coming from. Steven [Spielberg, executive producer of PRINCE OF EGYPT] and his partners have been very careful with the telling of this important story. This song is about the importance of a belief, and Mariah and Whitney are the two perfect voices to bring this song to life. The song is gospel-tinged and both of them have proved their love of gospel music through their earlier works. I don't think we could have chosen two better singers to give voice to the beautiful meaning of the song."
PRINCE OF EGYPT opens in the US on December 20, and in Australia in January. The PRINCE OF EGYPT soundtrack will be in stores in November.
Mariah Carey: Stuck off the realness?
By Eddie Brannan
"I go round consciously trying to maintain in a world that’s a little bit crazy," says Mariah Carey, nestled deep in the backseat of her limo. "And I really love music, like I really, seriously do. And I love the fact that now I’m able to do what I want and I just wanna get it exposed to as many people as I can and even if 99.9 percent of people who hear 'The Roof' don’t know that it’s 'Shook Ones,' it is.
Well that sounds reasonable doesn't it? Girlfriend's got her divorce on and now she’s getting open. Hanging with the homeboys. Saking off the shackles of a faded relationship and making the kind of music that she always wanted to make, way back when she was a teenager, teenage-dreaming about success like this. But now, almost for the first time in her professional career, she is being herself. And that should be cause for a adulatory "Go girl!" but for some reason folks ain’t feelin’ it. The skepticism and mistrust are palpable. And her motivation is being questioned. They say she’s bandwagon-jumping. They say she ain’t really down. They say she’s fakin’ it.
Making my way through customs at LAX, LA’s enormous - and enormously characterless - international airport, I had to explain the nature of my visit to the young African-American officer who was on duty. I told her I was in town to interview a recording artist. "That's great! Who is it?" she asked, genuinely excited at the idea. I told her it was Mariah Carey. "Mariah Carey? Hmm," she said, in a disappointed kind of way. I was curious to know what had prompted that response, so I asked what she would want to know about the "people’s pop princess," as one recent article referred to Ms. Carey. "Umm...," the customs officer said. "Nothin’, really. I don’t really want to know anything about her at all!"
That wasn’t the first time I’d heard that response over the last couple of weeks. In the run up to my trip to Hollywood for an audience with this one-woman, billion-dollar-plus entertainment industry (no exaggeration: 80 million records sold, areound $15 a pop - go figure), I'd asked around my friends what they would have me uncover. In most cases they thought about it for a minute, then just shrugged. Nothin' really. Nothin' at all.
Which is kind of strange, when you think about it. Whole industries have sprung up around the fascination we almost invariably have with our celebrities, to the point where even C thru Z-list personalities find themselves constantly on talk shows, in the tabloids and scandal sheets and generally being gossiped about, because folks seem to have an inveterate response to celebrity of any order, which is to get all up in its business.
But not, it seems, where Carey is concerned. She shifts product alright, to a degree virtually unmatched in the entertainment business, so she’s popular, but only as in popular artist, popular music - pop. What she never seemed to possess was the electric snap and crackle of the truly stellar. That ineffable quality whereby someone seems to touch and engage with just about every other person on the planet - manages to actually mean something to virtually all of us - has not been a part of Mariah Carey’s repertoire. Instead there she’s always been, part of the pop firmament, singing well-meaning ballads in a voice of spectacular beauty without a shred of relevance. That is to say, without any direct links with our lives, our realities, our existence. Without significance, without connectedness, she was just...Mariah Carey, cut-out-and-keep pop star.
Then suddenly something a little strange started to happen. The Puff Daddy remix of “Fantasy,” drawn from the Daydream album, featured a then-new phenomenon, a guest spot by a well-known rapper to beef up an otherwise fairly anodyne track and accrue to it some street love. Well, as a marketing device, it was nothing if not forseeable. As the urban market suddenly became the market per se, that hood dap was going to become a valuable commodity, to be got by fair means or foul. And the conjunction of fair and foul was particularly apt in this archetypal example of the device. Yup, you remember - "Me and Mariiiiiah:" enter stage left Ol' Dirty Bastard, from moniker thru facial expression to vocal style the grimiest rapper to ever walk the earth. Alongside Mariah Carey? Whu...?!
Back then the hardcore devotees would never have thought that it would work. After all hip hop was invioacle, sacrosanct - neither for sale or hire, nor to be allied to any other cause. Hip hop at that time was all about "Keep it real," not yet the Benjamins. But the world she was a changin', and typically that consummate auteur of acumen, Sean "Puffy" Combs, was in the vanguard of her tranformation. The rest is recent history. Mariah Carey parted company with, and then divorced, her husband of four years, Sony boss Tommy Mottola. Their romance had been whirlwind, the marriage itself an extravagant spectacle costing some $500,000 (but how he recouped!); still rumors abounded of her being manipulated, controlled and dominated by a possessive and jealous Mottola. Various accounts tell of a certain Sony employee who would turn up wherever Mariah was, of her being virtally imprisoned in the couple’s Beford, NY marital home. The rumour mill didn’t end with the split either; in fact the stories got even more wild. Suffice to say they were probably mostly bullshit, but there’s no smoke without a little bit of fire, as Carey herself will concede, albeit tangentially.
Following the spilt and the divorce, Mariah Carey parted company with her manager Randy Hoffman and lawyer Sandy Gallin - said to be too close to Mottola - and did what she done virtually every year since she left high school, every year this decade: she went into the studio and made an album. Butterfly is the latest in a long line of mega-selling albums from the Carey hit factory. It has the power-ballads for which she’s globally, incredibly, unimaginably famous, and which emerge from a long-standing collaborative arrangement with producer/arranger/composer/songwriter Walter Afanasieff. His name has appeared on all her albums to date, so it is no surprise to see his credit after quintessentially Mariah songs like "My All," "Fourth Of July," and the album’s title track. But what does raise eyebrows is the list of other collaborators on Butterfly. Bad Boy, Trackmasters, The Ummah (ATCQ’s production crew), Mobb Deep, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. And all of a sudden she’s here, in our world, rolling with our peeps, gettin’ down with our lives. For most of the last seven years she’s been the squeaky clean pop queen, somewhere out there in the territory occupied by Celine Dion and Michael Bolton, (Boyz II Men? Babyface? Not even!) with about as much pertinence, but now she’s all up in here. It’s the Whu...?! factor all over again.
Except, accoring to Mariah, it isn’t, or at least has no business to be. This album, she claims, is absolutely, totally, 100 percent, like, her. Who she wants to be; where she wants that person to be at; what’s going on at this point in her life, given all that’s gone on at points prior to it. And while she won’t admit to being totally happy righ now, she says she’s "probably the happiest [she’s] ever been."
The reason for that happiness? Control. "I don’t love being at this pace and not being able to do anything but at this point I’m choosing to do it myself," she states with evident satisfaction. "In the beginning I don’t that I really understood what I was doing.” I ask if this is all there is to her life, this kind of stardom-maintenance process, and she says no; that there’s another place she goes to, when she’s in New York, around her people.
Then she tells a story about being around at the home of one of her girlfriends, staying up late and falling asleep on the couch. But “everybody was freaking out,” she says, “calling her every five minutes and going ‘is everything all right, what’s she doing, what’s going on?’ And my friend was like, ‘she’s fine she’s here.’ But I was at peace and at ease so it wasn’t a big deal ro me. It’s just that everybody else makes a bigger deal out of it, like ‘why is Mariah sleeping on a couch in Brooklyn?’”
She tells this story, and I’m thinking two things: firstly that I’ve heard it before - she told it on the Oprah interview she did right after the separation - and also that it genuinely seems to be a big deal to her. That to do something most 27 year-old socially-sctive women just do from time to time, crash roudn their girl’s crib, genuinely was something new and exciting to her, a kind of adventure. So I’m wondering, is this her stock ‘hey. I’m just a regular girl’ tale, her of-the-people bona fides? Or has it really been so long since she had the freedom to do something akin to what you and I might consider normal that this episode was still worth relating apparently months after it happened? It’s exactly this kind of paradox that you’re faced with with the new-look Mariah Carey. On the one hand she seems so genuine, yet there’s a whiff of manufacture behind her plausibility. Is she or isn’t she?
Whatever, it got me thinking about the way she lives. The events of the day that culminated in this interview had been illuminating. The photographer and I arrived at the studio where we were shooting around lunchtime. Over the next several hours a retinue arrived peacemeal, sundry publicists, a stylist, hair and makeup people, security guys, Mariah’s manager, Mariah’s executive assistant, two drivers, two tour managers, and so on. Everyone had a role to perform, a requirement to fulfill, so by the time Carey arrived at around 7pm, the sudio had the extra lounging areas that had been requested, the bottle of Cristal was on ice, the food she had ordered was prepared just so, and around 20 people were milling around.
Later on I comment upon this to her, about how wherever she goes in the world there’s this advance guard travelling ahead, getting everything straight for her. Doesn’t she find it at all bizarre? And she does something that she is to do several more times over the course of the interview: start out seeming like she had to excuse the lifestyle her success had granted her. “But half of those people I don’t know, for the most part,” she says. “Not that I don’t know them, and that’s not a dis to the record company people or whatever, but half of the people that are setting up half of the things, I don’t have a personal relationship with them. I don’t order them ‘go and make sure everything is set up.’”
This is disingenuous: not instructing your staff personally doesn’t mean they aren’t working for you. But it’s as though she feels somewhat ashamed of the consequences of her popularity, feels compelled to distance herself from events to some degree, to see them as part of a preordained, natural process that just happens, rather than an inevitable adjunct to her chosen career.
It is only after this disclaimeer that she gets to the nitty gritty: “At this point I feel I should have approval over certain things,” she states, and I ask if she means because of her commercial position. “Sure,” she replies. “And because of being burned and having certain issues and problems and whatever.” I ask if she’d had a lot of difficulties thus far, somewhat surprised, saying that I thought her career had been something like a fairytale. “Yes it has, and I’m very grateful for everything, and I feel very proud of a lot of the things I’ve done...” Again this initial disclaimer - not wanting to appear ungrateful, almost apologising before speaking her mind. “...but I don’t feel like I lived a lot of those things that were going on. I don’t feel like I really experienced them the same way that I’m experiencing things that go on now.”
I enquire (sic) whether that were something to do with her marriage, and all of a sudden the long, free-associating answers dry up. Instead there are only short, ambiguous allusions, the real information communicated via facial expressions. It’s something that I actually only noticed after the interview, while transcribing the tape. Certain difficult or problematic questions Carey handles by going into inscrutable mode, responding by grunt and grimace, so that any inferences I draw are just that - my contentions and no more, nothing concrete and attributable; or she does what seasoned politicos do - answers a slightly different question fulsomely, leading you away from dangerous territory.
Both of which tactics reveal considerable savvy vis a vis her public image and its handling. Unsurprising in a person of her position, but it does make you think a little when she infers (anything but unequivocally) that the squeaky clean, racially non-specific image was one imposed on her by the record company people, rather than something she acceded to because it was better for business. That paradox again.
But even if the latter were totally the case - and incidentally I don’t believe it to be so, for reasons I’ll go into later - it gradually became clear to Carey that the cost was too high. “I started meeting people who were also young and successful in the music business, and having relationships with them,” she explains. “Forming friendships with Boyz II Men, Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat, and people that I related to on a creative level, and they would come visit me and we would work together at my house, but that was kinda like the extent of it. Or we would go places but it was all very surreal. Then they would go and they would live their lives and they would do normal things - even though they’re still famous and they get noticed and things like that, it just seemed like they were freer in a lot of ways.” She pauses for a second, rueful, and then continues in a measured, deliberate tone: “And that was kinda like the beginning of me looking around and saying, ‘something’s a little weird here.’”
What does she mean, I ask. That there were too many things she was missing out on? Implying was she was kept from them by Mottola? She doesn’t directly answer that one, but instead starts talking about her unconventional childhood, about life choices (“there were pivotal moments where I made choices not to do something or to do something, and had I chosen the other path I definitely would not be here right now.”); which leads to another revelation concerning her period as the high-school hellcat (“believe it or not - and this is funny because my image is always so goody two-shoes - but when I was in seventh or eighth grade girls used to be scared of me, that I was like gonna beat them up in the bathroom. I mean I was a really bad kid! I used to smoke cigarettes in the bathroom, slam kids against the lockers, I was bad!) which she says arose out of confusion relating to her race (“it was because of my insecurities; of being mixes, of being different, just not feeling comfortable within myself, so I was taking out my aggression of not being the norm, not really fitting into a specific category.”)
A very revealing period of conversation this, because in it Mariah Carey confronts two of the popular (mis?)conceptions that abound about her: firstly that she is this squeaky-clean Malibu Stacey character; and secondly that she is in denial of her racially-mixed heritage. I respond by saying that all through her career she has seemed to embrace that very same racial ambiguity that troubled her so as a teenager, even though, as I mention, she did that “Fantasy” remix with ODB. Right away she starts talking about that record, about how she “got away with that by the skin of my teeth,” that “had the record company known...I don’t think they really realized how raw he was. They never listened to his album; if they heard the Wu-Tang 36 CHAMBERS it would’ve been over!” rather than answering the question, which was about the ‘beigeness’ she had hitherto personified.
Later on she gets a little more specific: “I don’t know how much [racial identity] was downplayed from day one. And it wasn’t me,” she states, “The thing is, it still happens to me, and I can’t tell you how many times I say in everything I do, my father is black and Venezuelan. That doesn’t mean he’s black from Venezuela. That means his mother was African-American down from the south, a real hardcore black grandmother that’ll set you straight in a minute, and his father is from Venezuela. His real last name was Nunes, Alfredo Nunes. My father’s father changed his name when they moved here; they gave him another name which is what they did to a lot of people in those days if they couldn’t pronounce it. And my mother, she’s American but her parents came from Ireland. They always make it like, my mom’s an Irish immigrant and my father’s a Venezuelan guy who’s black, and that’s not how it is. My mother’s from the Midwest, my father’s from Harlem.
All of which makes me think about growing up. About how your teens and early 20s are the time when you arrive at a lot of decisions about yourself, about who you are, who you want to be, and come to terms with everything you are not. How that’s an often painful, sometimes accident-prone period of growing up. How it’s a time when decisions are made, later to be rued. Who among us can say they regret nothing, that they made no mistakes during adolescence? Who can honestly say that given the choices Mariah had, they would not have done exactly as she did? Who then can condemn her if she decided that it would be easier at the time not to confront the issues she had with being of mixed descent, but rather let others define her as they preferred? If she made some mainstream records because million of people loved her for them when she wasn’t even sure she loved herself? If she let someone else make her career decisions for her? Even if later they were to regret some of those decisions, who can honestly say that to them not might not have seemed the best option at the time?
Which is what I meant when I wrote earlier on that I don’t believe Mariah Carey is just some overexposed pop diva trying to restore herself a little cachet in the changing market by fakin’ the funk. While Janet Jackson tries desperately to be Lauryn Hill on “Got Til It’s Gone” and Aaliyah on “I Get Lonely,” and Madonna aspires to Bjorkness all through RAY OF LIGHT, Mariah Carey is still, essentially, herself. BUTTERFLY is an archetypally accessible Mariah Carey album, tougher beats or no, so much so that Carey is more irritated by the flak she caught from within the Columbia operation than without.
“I’m still known for songs like ‘Hero’,” she says. “And I don’t think that I’ve shunned that on this album at all. I think that in a sense people were trying to project this image on me, that ‘she’s gone left-of-centre, she’s made a hip hop record,’ but it’s not a hip hop record. I collaborated with people I wanted to collaborate with, I worked with producers I wanted to work with, but it’s basically the direction I was going in on ‘Fantasy’, on the ‘Always Be My Baby’ remix, it’s the 1997/1998 version of where I wanted to be on DAYDREAM.” But the singles that I always love, like ‘Underneath The Stars’ and ‘Melt Away’ - singles that Brat will call me up and be like ‘Yo, you gotta make them release ‘Underneath The Stars’, that’s my shit!’ - and no-one wanted to because they’re like ‘it’s a passive R&B record, it doesn’t mean anything.’ and it just seemed like I was very mouldable. So they’d choose to put out like, another ballad, and the thing about me is that they know I can write those other kinds of ballads.”
A little later on she returns to this topic: “It’s a problem because some people said this record is harder to market because it’s a hip hop record.” Whu...?! Which record? I ask, staggered? “BUTTERFLY!” she replies, equally dumbfounded. “The album! I’m like, ‘are you crazy?’ Yes there are tracks that are definitely influenced by hip hop but ‘Fantasy’ couldn’t have been more that way. But that version wasn’t on the album so they kind of had an excuse, and it’s like look, I still have the ballads on there, I have ‘My All’, I have ‘Butterfly’, whatever. I’m not stupid enough to just throw that side of myself away.”
And again her answer in intriguing. The impression is almost of her having having had to plead to be allowed to do this. Plead with whom though? The label, presumably, but rather than the logistics, it is her manner which fascinates me. I can’t imagine Madonna, for example, saying of her record company that they had an “excuse” to discourage her creative vision.
I ask if there was then a conflict between expressing herself and fulfilling the commercial requirements of being Mariah Carey, and she ducks the question, replying instead with something about gauging Jermaine Dupri or The Brat’s reaction to her songs to determine their crossover potential. Crossover from the mainstream into the urban market, that is, not vice versa.
So is her record label Crave, then, perhaps an outlet for the type of material she feels unable to release for herslef? She’s quite happy to acknowledge the truth in that: “At this point it is. In the beginning I was doing so much other stuff that I wasn’t really focused on a lot of the details because, and now I really am. It’s hard, because there’s a lot, and the artists really look up to me for support.” She talk about the groups on her label, of which Allure are the best known and for whom she co-wrote and co-produced three tracks. She also tells me about a new group she has called Seven Miles (sic), who “are really talented, a guy group from Detroit, like a young Boyz II Men aged 17 to 20.” She also mentions a rap group called The League, who she says are all that. She speaks with great entusiasm about these groups and her label; it’s clearly something she feels - not just a vanity project but definitely something of a creative outlet for her.
We talk for awhile after that about who an artist writes for, be it an idealized audience or for themselves. Mariah explains how this was perhaps the first album since her debut that she has really written for herself, with her situation in mind - with honesty. “This album, because of all the personal stuff that was going on, and all the personal stuff that went into the lyrics, it’s still very moving when I listen to certain things. I think like, wow! This last year was a very bizarre experience. But I got through it.” This last said with defiant pride in her resilience, her self-sufficiency, like ‘I did it’. In that moment I catch a sense of bizarreness of her life. Moving from the most unconventional and unstable of childhoods (she hints at something dark, abusive perhaps; certainly something that happened in her house at night that kept her from sleeping, the cause of her lifelong insomnia), to the cosseting and coddling of a career and marriage there were intrinsically locked together and tended to exclude just about everything of real life (including sleeping on friends’ couches in Brooklyn). Everything except, perhaps, unhappiness.
I ask if it has taken a long time to feel like herself again. “It’s taken ‘til now,” she says, “but I’ve done things in the past that I felt really good about that weren’t necessarily released, so now people are like ‘oh, she’s jumping on the hip hop bandwagon.’” So how does she react to that? “I think it’s ridiculous.” she says, clearly annoyed. “For example, me and Puffy worked together in ‘95 on the ‘Fantasy’ remix. That’s before Puffy was pUf Daddy, The Artist, and because I live in New York and I listen to hip hop and I have friends who go out to clubs every night I obviously knew that he was the hottest person to work with.” I suggest that’s her point of view, but that others don’t necessarily see it like that. She nods and agrees, saying, “They see him, and then they see me.” And they wonder how you got there, I respond. “Then they appear ignorant,” she replies, vehemently. “They don’t even realize I worked with this guy two years ago before he even had a solo record out. When he was very concerned about doing anything remotely commercial, and we almost didn’t work together - it was like ‘I don’t know about messing with that pop stuff.’ - but then he heard the track and he knew, because I already had the song written and I had the sample, and I said I wanted to work with ODB, and he said ‘what?!’
It became huge, and at this point it’s like, the masses [which, interestingly, is how she refers to her perceived audience] don’t even know who Mobb Deep is.” She pauses for breath - all this has come out in a heated rush - and then finishes her thought more calmly. “People know me know that I’m a real person. That I’m not caught up in the hype, which 99.9 percent of the people in this business are.”
The limo moves through the LA night, and the only illumination in the rear comes from the little fairy lights around the vanity mirrors above us, which cast their small pool of light onto out faces and very little else. Mariah Carey sits deep in the seat corner, seems relaxed - tired but calm, comfortable with it. She does come across very real - startlingly so, given that she is one of the biggest stars in the world. Which takes me back to where I started. The relationship superstars have with their public is a strangely Faustian one. They are there to vicariously live their fabs’ lives for them, to suffer their losses, to feel their pain, understand the things they cannot. You can only do this by being there, for if you’re not down, you can’t understand, and if you don’t understand then you can’t be down. Being real with your private people is not enough in this game as, I believe, Mariah Carey understands. You have to be real to everyone.
So that’s why she’s busting out of her shell, making music with Mobb Deep and Bone Thugs, partying, hanging out and sleeping on those Brookyn couches. It’s kinda like a rebirth thing, from the darkness to the light: “There was a point that it was so bizarre,” she recalls. “I was running around on my own in a cab thinking where do I go, how do I get there? Early last year, like, what the hell am I doing, and that was the start of the resurrection of the true person I am.”
You can by cynical about her motivation but you can also see the change in Mariah Carey as a tacit acknowledgement of past errors; and recognize that in a world that’s been more than a little bit crazy, you maintain any way you can.
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Site owner: Gilles Ollevier
Heroes of Mariah 2000