One of the hottest pop divas in the world, this hip, gutsy, talented superstar is the top-selling female singer of the nineties.
Mariah Carey Revisited is a must-read for in-depth, up-to-date information on the singer's recent world tours, collaborations (with hip-hop artists like Puff Daddy and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony), her sexy new image, and the Butterfly album.
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About the Author
Chris Nickson has written several books on celebrities and musicians, including Melissa Etheridge, Soundgarden, Brad Pitt, and Superhero: A Biography of Christopher Reeve.
Chris Nickson has written biographies on David Boreanaz, Melissa Etheridge and Matt Damon.
Read an Excerpt
Mariah Carey Revisted
By Chris Nickson
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1998 Chris Nickson
All rights reserved.
Patricia Hickey was born with a wondrous gift. She could sing, not just the way many people can, carrying a tune or warbling in the shower, but with a rare clarity that promised a future in music. The daughter of Irish immigrants from County Cork, she grew up in the Midwest never knowing her father, who died a month before she was born. He had been a singer himself, and a musician, and while he could not be there to witness his little girl's growth, he was at least able to bequeath her his talent.
At the age of seventeen, Patricia went to New York and won a place with the New York City Opera. It was still a young company, organized in 1943 during World War II as part of the City Center of Music and Drama. Its mission was to provide good opera at affordable prices. It quickly acquired a reputation for both the quality and range of its productions, as it began to offer premieres of new American works as well as revivals of classical pieces.
By 1960, Patricia Hickey had become Patricia Carey, after marrying Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer of African American and Venezuelan descent, and the couple were soon parents of a son, Morgan. A year later, he would be joined by a sister, Alison. But it was a union, sadly, that would estrange Patricia — and her children, including Mariah — from her disapproving family.
"My mother's family basically disowned her when she married my father," Mariah explained in Smash Hits. "So later I was like, 'Well, where does this leave me? Am I a bad person?' You know. It's not that common still to be a multiracial person, but I'm happy with the combination of things that I am."
Alfred and Patricia moved from one all- white suburb on New York's Long Island to another, encountering a tremendous amount of prejudice and harassment as an interracial couple, a pairing that was not so common in those days, and one which tended to generate extreme reactions. "They went through some very hard times before I was born," Mariah told People magazine. "They had their dogs poisoned, their cars set on fire and blown up." Not unnaturally, these events caused many problems. "It put a strain on their relationship. There was always this tension. They just fought all the time."
But by the late sixties, Patricia was at last achieving some success in the operatic world. Still with the New York City Opera, the mezzo-soprano had become a soloist in the company, working with such world-famous performers as Beverly Sills.
Then, in the fall of 1969, Patricia discovered she was pregnant again. And on March 27, 1970, Mariah Carey was born.
The world she entered was a violent place. Fighting was going on in the Middle East. The conflict in Vietnam continued, claiming thousands of lives — indeed, a few weeks after Mariah's birth, a war protest at Kent State University in Ohio would result in the deaths of four students, shot by the Ohio National Guard. But at the same time, ironically, Simon and Garfunkel's gentle, hopeful "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, enjoying a six-week run in that position.
Although Mariah once jokingly stated, "I think my mother chose the name Mariah because it would be a stage name," Patricia actually took the name from the song "They Call the Wind Mariah," featured in the Lerner and Lowe musical Paint Your Wagon, which, as a film, was enjoying great popularity in 1970. (A song from the movie, "Wand'rin Star," sung by Lee Marvin, was number 1 in England the day Mariah was born.)
The family, sadly, continued to be the target of rampant racial intolerance, and the ongoing problems it caused in the relationship between Alfred and Patricia proved insurmountable, causing their separation and divorce, which occurred when Mariah was three. Recalled Mariah, "That made me feel very anti-marriage. I thought that I'd never marry."
One of Mariah's earliest memories, unsurprisingly, involved singing, but also showed the problems that existed within the family. "My father was very strict, one of the strictest disciplinarians, and there was this whole dinner-table etiquette; everybody spoke only when spoken to, and so on. And I was a more free spirit; my mom kind of shielded me from that. And I loved singing; I was singing since I started talking. ... So I was singing at the table ... and my father said, 'There will be no singing at the table!' So I got up from the table, and I went into the living room, and I got on the coffee table and continued singing at the top of my lungs."
After the divorce, Alison lived with her father, while Morgan, just in his teens, and Mariah lived with their mother. At first they saw their father weekly, but those visits, although amicable, soon became less frequent. "My father and I had a good relationship for a minute there, right after the divorce," Mariah recalled. "Everybody wishes they had a 'Brady Bunch' family, but it's not reality.
"He's a good person," she elaborated. "I don't have anything against him. It's just very difficult growing up in a divorced family — the tension, anger, and bitterness between the parents is often put off on the children, and because I was so young when they divorced, it was a major split for me." She discovered, in her visits with her father, that they really had very little in common. His talents as a mathematician weren't passed on to his younger daughter, and he didn't share her love of music. However, Mariah did retain some fond memories of the time they spent together when she was young. Alfred Carey eventually took a job in Washington, D.C., and moved there, but continued also to maintain a home on Long Island.
For all the problems, conflicts, and arguments between Patricia and Alfred, Patricia never tried to turn the children against their father. Mariah recounted, "[L]ucky for me, my mother never said anything negative about my father. She never discouraged mefrom having a good feeling about him. She always taught me to believe in myself, to love all the things I am. In that sense I'm very lucky, because I could have been a very screwed-up person."
By 1972, Patricia had discovered that her younger daughter had inherited her singing talent. It happened as Patricia was rehearsing at home for her debut as Maddalena in Verdi's opera, Rigoletto.
"I missed my cue," she explained, "but Mariah didn't. She sang it — in Italian-at exactly the right point. She wasn't yet three."
Once Mariah had found she possessed this ability, she used it constantly. She walked around the house "like a little tape recorder, and I'd mimic whatever I heard, whether it was my brother's or sister's records, or whatever songs were on the radio at the time." What she heard mostly, though, was her mother's voice. Patricia was still with the New York City Opera, and would often rehearse her roles at home. Little Mariah would sit next to her, correct her errors in pitch, and sing along — in Italian.
Music was always around the Carey house. The newly single Patricia had a difficult time making ends meet. Her position at the opera didn't offer enough money, so she became a freelance vocal coach. She happily encouraged Mariah's musical precociousness. "I grew up on my own with my mom," Mariah said. "I was always singing around the house because she was always singing, so I would try to mimic her. She couldn't shut me up. She wouldn't let anybody baby-talk around me. She had me around all her friends as a kid, and she used to say I was like a little adult. All I wanted to do was sing for my mom's friends, so I would memorize every jingle on TV and whatever records were playing around the house, like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin."
When Mariah was four, although she was considered a "born singer," her mother started giving her voice lessons; the raw ability was obviously there, but she needed training to learn how to use and develop it properly, and only formal study would give her that. This shared talent — and time — reinforced the bond between Mariah and Patricia, in a family that was always financially on the brink. "I grew up without having a lot of things, money and stuff like that. My mother and I moved around a lot; she worked three jobs sometimes. I went through a lot of rough times when I was a little girl." A lack of money creates constant strain and strife, a vicious cycle of near poverty, and most certainly a sense of living on the edge. Everything that comes into the house immediately goes out again to cover bills; there's no chance to save or to get ahead, no sense of security, just a feeling of always struggling.
And they did struggle. Over the course of fourteen years, Patricia and Mariah would move thirteen times in the New York area, sometimes even staying with friends, as Patricia sought work in her field.
"There were times we didn't have a place to live," Mariah would recall. "Those were very frightening periods."
But Patricia was always there for her daughter, encouraging and supporting her. It's her mother, Mariah said, "who is most responsible for me having the courage to be able to do what I'm doing." Patricia took great pains to install a strong, healthy sense of self-esteem in her daughter and to reinforce the idea of the girl's talent. It was a spark, Mariah was certain, that gave her the strength to become a professional singer.
Patricia's work wasn't limited to daytime hours. Singers often perform long into the night, and vocal coaches frequently work in the evenings. Whenever possible, she would take Mariah with her, but frequently that wouldn't be feasible. "My mom and I almost grew up together," Mariah said. Being together so much made them almost seem like a team, and being around adults caused Mariah to grow up quickly, a trait that was extremely useful on those occasions when her mother had to work at night and Mariah had to stay home alone, with only the radio as a babysitter.
"I used to take the radio, steal the radio from the kitchen and listen to it under the covers and sing all night. That's when I was beginning my insomniac days back when I was like four and [it] hasn't gone away."
Even then, she knew she wanted to be a singer.
"[I]t's something I've always wanted to do. ... Since I knew there was such a thing as what you do for a living, I knew I wanted to be a singer. ... [My mother] didn't persuade me to do it, but she was a professional singer ... when I was a little girl so I guess it wouldn't be such a farfetched thing as it would be for some people ... you know, to dream of doing it."
Her mother might have encouraged her, but not everyone was so enthusiastic. "I told one teacher that I wanted to be a singer and was told, 'There are millions of people out there who can sing. What makes you any different? Don't get your hopes up.' I couldn't believe a teacher would actually say that to someone who had a dream."
It was during this time that Mariah made her real singing debut. In 1976, as a first- grader, she was chosen for a high-school production of the musical South Pacific, in which she soloed on the tune "Honey Bun."
Her musical education was continuing, too, in more ways than one. Patricia's friends would visit, and everything from the late jazz singer Billie Holiday to opera would be played.
"I was singing with my mom and her musician friends from the time I was about four years old. I'd get home from school, and she would have, like, five friends over who were jazz musicians, and I'd end up singing 'My Funny Valentine' at two in the morning."
Mariah was also encouraged to take piano lessons to complement the voice training, but, by her own admission, she was "lazy"; it's something she now regrets. "When I was little, my mom tried to get me to do piano, but I said, 'This comes naturally, I can do it by ear, I don't want to learn.' I should have taken lessons because it would be easier for me now ... . Sometimes ideas just come, and because I'm worrying about trying to find the chords, I end up losing part of the idea."
There was also the soul music that Morgan loved (and Alison, too, when she visited), in particular Stevie Wonder. He would continue to be an inspiration to Mariah, as would another singer popular at the time, Minnie Ripperton.
"I remember hearing her song, 'Loving You,' all the time and trying to hit the high notes on it. I never could — for a while. I guess it was just a great ambition of mine to use my voice in that way. ... I started to find old records of hers and listen to her style. I just thought it was an incredible gift that she had."
Mariah started out mimicking it all as an infant, then grew to love it herself, which would lead her to one of the joys of her life, along with hip-hop — gospel music.
So many of the soul singers that Morgan listened to had grown up singing in the Baptist church — Al Green, Aretha Franklin (whose father was a famous preacher), Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight — and it showed in the way they approached their music. Once Mariah discovered that two of her idols, Al Green and Aretha Franklin, had both recorded gospel albums, she went out and bought them.
It proved to be a major turning point for her, and very soon she was investigating other gospel artists who hadn't made any secular records, people like Shirley Caesar, the Clark Sisters, Mahalia Jackson, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. The rawness and freedom of the voices touched a chord in the girl, one that would continue to resonate inside her, to influence and motivate her. Along with pop and R&B, she continues to love gospel, and admitted that there was a time she bought gospel tapes from late-night television. And the influence has frequently shown up in her music, whether it be in the soaring arrangement of the backing vocals, or the way a piano is played, or the rich tones of her own voice.
Mariah's introduction to this kind of music had come on the sporadic visits she made to her father's mother, whom Mariah would accompany to the Baptist church where she would hear traditional spirituals. These were the only times during her childhood that Mariah was able to experience the sensation of being part of a large family. Unfortunately, the visits were rare. "I wish I had been part of it more," she said.
One of the other big musical influences as she grew up was rap, right from the time the first Sugar Hill Gang single hit the radio in 1979, when Mariah was nine years old.
"I grew up in New York," she pointed out. "I've been listening to urban music, hip-hop, since it was invented," and she'd go on later to feel that she shared a lot with people who worked in those fields. "I went through a lot and saw a lot of things, my life was far from sheltered or privileged, so when I work with urban acts, people who have come up from the streets and worked hard to get where they are, I feel as if we have a lot in common."
MARIAH NEVER HAD any choice but to be well aware of her racial background. It was something that definitely added to the problems she felt as a child. "It's been difficult for me," she explained in an interview with Ebony, "moving around so much, having to grow up by myself ... my parents divorced. And I always felt kind of different from everyone else in my neighborhoods. I was a different person ethnically. And sometimes that can be a problem. If you look a certain way, everybody goes, 'White girl,' and I'd go, 'No, that's not what I am.'" But while the brief time she spent with her grandmother had served to make her very aware of her black heritage, she knew she wasn't completely black, either. She felt it upset people that she refused to come out and state she was one or the other. However, it was impossible to do without denying a big part of herself. To call herself black would ignore her completely Irish mother ("my best friend"). At the same time, saying she was "black, Venezuelan, and Irish" satisfied no one; it appeared to be too much of a compromise. For Mariah, though, it was all she could do, because it was the truth, and because it brought home to her the ultimate difficulty in being an interracial child — being neither one thing nor the other. So she defined herself in the only possible way: "I am a human being, a person."
All three of the Carey children found themselves on the receiving end of prejudice. Alison had the darkest skin in the family, and when she was young, the neighborhood kids would single her out. "They'd shout racial slurs and beat her up," Mariah said in a mixture of sadness and anger. "Then my brother would go in and fight for her.... It was tough."
Excerpted from Mariah Carey Revisted by Chris Nickson. Copyright © 1998 Chris Nickson. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the course of reading this fabulous unathorized biography, Mariah expresses herslef through many angles; as a Diva and as a underprivilged person. She stated to her piers as having a dream, not any dream, but a dream that would endure hardships; as to feeling from Manhatten at two o'clock in the morning. Or writting song in a furniture store that had been owned by a friends father. But the intense was the race when waiting for her big break. Blocking the past problems Mariah stayed strong. She then met producer Tommy Motola at party. She started writting and recording right away....she then moved on to the selling platinum records all over the world. Her music was emotional she had dance tunes to love songs. All of her actions and hard work has unfastened a journey for people yet to discover. Its true what they say ' The end Justifies the meaning'-Niccolo Machiavelli
Mad just brokecup with a friend:(
this is a great book i have read everyone of her books they are all good but this one is great becuse she wrote it herself. well maybe it sounds like she did anywayz.....its GREAT 5 stars up
When i first heard 'Mariah Carey's' music and learned about her life I understood that she went through a lot to get where she is today. I understood that when she was a kid she was treated bad cause of her race and I was the same.
Mariah Carey is an amazing person. She has proved that hardwork, determination and ofcourse talent has paid off. Mariah is the Diva of Divas.
Mariah Carey has been through so much, her divorce to head Sony manger Tommy Mottola, the whole idea of show buissnes in general! This book was great it talked about everything from her divorce, making of the albums and her idea of the whole ''being famous'' thing! Great book!
Mariah Carey has been my hero, because when I was about to commit suicide I heard her song 'HERO' and that saved me. I was so depressed because people from my school were making me feel that I was nobody because my parents were Mexicans and I didn't speak English well. I thank God and Mariah for saving my life. That song makes me realize that my life was worth much more than what I thought.
O MY GOD IS THAT REALLY YOU I CAN'T WAIT TO TELL MY FRIENDS THAT MARIAH CAREY IS TEXTING ME!!!!!!!!!!
Hello it is me mariah carey and I love all my fans think you so much hope I see one of you at my latest show ~Mariah Carey
I love mariah carey. I love one sweet day. It was my uncles funeral song. I miss my uncle so mmmmmmuuuuuuccccccccchhhhhhhhh :(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(<3
Its ok. Do u have any siblings?
Iiiiiiioi guesss shes alright
I Love mariah
Love mariah!!!!!! Im a dude and i love her. I grew up with her and whitney. Her bests songs are one sweet day love takes time we belong together emotions and vision of love. Me my mom and my girlfriend saw her adventures of mimi tour. Best concert EVER and i got the tickets for my 16th birthday I love you mariah!!!!!!!!!
I love Mariah....... .