Book Review

Mariah Carey opens up on fame, fortune and racism

Mariah
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Summary

  • Born into a mixed marriage that her African American father abandoned when she was just three, Mariah’s early years were impacted by both poverty and racism.
  • Yet her first role model was her opera-singer mother who fueled her desire to be a successful singer-songwriter: a desire that she fulfilled far beyond her wildest dream.

With 19 Number One Billboard music singles to her name, and most of them composed by the singer herself, Mariah Carey only got inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame this year.

That’s just one pithy detail that is not included in Mariah’s tell-all memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey that just got released a month ago, co-written with Michelle Angela Davis.

It’s hard to believe that this ‘divine Diva’, whose voice easily commands five octaves, just turned 50. But her book will ensure that readers, especially her huge fandom, understand how her life has been filled with both joy and success as well as deep-seated pain and profound hardship.

Born into a mixed marriage that her African American father abandoned when she was just three, Mariah’s early years were impacted by both poverty and racism. Yet her first role model was her opera-singer mother who fueled her desire to be a successful singer-songwriter: a desire that she fulfilled far beyond her wildest dream.

In fact, her debut album, Daydream, released in 1990, earned her over a million dollars. And to date, she’s produced 14 more. Yet her phenomenal voice and warm, passionate heart could not ensure her path to success would be easy or effortless.

At age 23, Mariah did marry a major music mogul, Tommy Mottola, CEO of Columbia Records, who played a pivotal role in launching her career. But even as he helped her secure major music contracts, he and his company also benefitted immensely from having signed her and wedding her as well.

Their marriage only lasted five years but that was long enough for her to become an international pop music icon. She would go on to become a film producer, entrepreneur and ultimately, one of the most financially successful musical diva to date.

Sadly, her film career did not meet with much success. The 2001 premiere of ‘Glitter’ was a flop. But Mariah credits several factors with contributing to the film’s poor reception.

One is that the day of Glitter’s premiere was 9/11/2001, the same day in which the Twin Towers in New York were hit, over 3,000 Americans died on the spot, and the country was plunged into a life-transforming ‘War on terror’. Another factor was the supposed sabotage that she believes came from her former spouse Mottola.

The script also could have been better. But even so, Mariah has continued making marvelous music videos that help to sell her music.

Some of the most moving parts of her memoir relate to the racism that she encountered both from family members, (some of whom resented her being lighter-skinned than they were), some from white girls who she had thought were friends but who maliciously betrayed her trust and finally, from her own mother whose betrayal might have simply been envy of Mariah’s musical success as compared to the mom’s short-lived operatic career.

Either way, her book confirms the age-old adage that fame and fortune cannot guarantee happiness