Please note: There may be potential spoilers read at your own discretion.
“The Meaning of Mariah Carey” became a memoir of sheer curiosity for me when the release was teased in June 2020.
The book was slated to release in September of that year, and I was dying trying to figure out how I was going to get my hands on it. I have been an avid bookworm since I was a kid in elementary. I also happened to become a fan of Mariah Carey around the same time.
I have fond memories of me and my mother driving around Sacramento bumping Mariah. My mom was a diehard fan prior to having me, and after she influenced me to become one as I had access to her beloved CD’s growing up and Walkman.
I can recall the album covers of “Rainbow” “Number 1s” and “The Emancipation of Mimi” becoming imprinted in my head as I took in the pictures and track lists. I was in awe of how Mariah’s vocals could reach such high levels without screeching or shattering a mirror.
My love of her music was solidified when “Emancipation of Mimi” came out because for the first time in all my experiences listening to her music, I was floored by the raw emotion I felt in her voice. I could tell that this was a real emancipation, a freedom, for flexing her vocal ability.
I felt something that I had never heard in her voice before there was no limitation or holding back. Not only was she showcasing her unmatched vocal prowess, but she was also bearing her soul putting it all on the line, it stirred something deep inside me in my formative years. Mariah Carey had me hooked with songs like “Shake It Off” “Joy Ride” and “Mine Again” for years. I was reminded of the great talent she posses with the promotion of this book.
I had been scouring over the world wide web to get my hands on this book I wasn’t able to indulge until a year after. The opportunity finally dropped into my lap September 2021. I knew this wasn’t a book that I wanted to read without sitting with it, reflecting, and discussing its content.
I also devoted some free time in between work and taking my route to work for lending an ear to her lengthy catalogue. All in all, to paint a clear picture of the “Fantasy” singer that is Mariah Carey.
I took up this book like homework, researching all things Mariah to provide a solid context for my read. Thus, igniting my love of her artistry all over again. Now here we are getting ready to give a decorated musician and songwriter her flowers. “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” gives the audience an unrestricted view into Mariah’s life like never seen before.
I daringly say Mariah Carey offers up lessons we can all learn from and place into relation of our own lives. I know I can certainly relate personally and professionally wise on my own writing debacles. She prompts conversations on colorism, race, self-esteem, industry issues, marriage, and religion among other important topics. Mariah Carey has given us great musical hits, but it is here we witness great intellect behind all the glitz and glamor.
She instead strips away her layers of fantasy, glitz, and glamour to reveal the raw vulnerable self like we have never seen before, telling her story in her own words. Mariah states, “I have used my songs and voice to inspire others and to emancipate my adult self. I offer this book, in large part to finally emancipate that scared little girl inside of me,” (page 12). Mariah Carey’s significant life moments addressed in this book are what made her the woman she is today. I can say my perspective on her has changed on her. You never know what someone is going through. She went from being so guarded in the past because of trauma to fearless.
The media proclaimed “diva” sheds her layers and embodies the true Mariah Angela Carey. The one hidden behind the fame and shrouded in mystery. Still, her witty personality remains as she dissects her life through significant memories from childhood, teenage years and adulthood on her journey towards stardom.
One of the most pivotal points of the book was her detailing her experience with racism growing up with a biracial background. Mariah reflects on her first encounter as a four-year-old in preschool during a family portrait with crayons. She colors her family to represent them by accurate shade when her teacher comes over and suggests she has used the wrong color for her father. She drew her mother and siblings in the peach shade, while her father was colored in with brown. She addresses it stating, “They had no idea and no imagination to suspect that the light toast of my skin, my bigger-than-button nose, and the waves and ringlets in my hair were from my father—my handsome father who was the color of warm maple syrup,” (page 58). Mariah Carey sheds light on a common problem that people of color face especially those who are mixed. Mariah Carey is white presenting based on her skin tone, she is considered passing so her white classmates and teacher would not suspect she was Black just by looking at her.
Another part that was mind blowing for me was Mariah Carey breaking her silence on her mysterious marriage to Tommy Mottola. Mottola was a popular record executive who helped to discover Carey and bring her on to Sony Music for her first record deal. They were married in 1993 and divorced in 1998. Mariah and Tommy’s marriage has been a controversial topic for years long after they wed. He held her under a microscope by watching her every move. The “sanctuary” or privacy of her own home was interrupted by guards and security cameras designed to keep her under his control. Mariah breaking her silence is crucial to understanding how this marriage shaped her and her marriage. Mariah says, “He rolled over me like a fog. His presence felt dense and oppressive. He was like humidity—inescapable,” (page 145). Mottola’s presence in the music industry was a heavy one with many celebrities having their own story on his conduct. Mariah Carey’s decision to include her story serves critical because of the lessons she includes on toxic relationships and controlling behavior that many women face today.
This part of the book is essential because I know many can relate and her opening just goes to show that abuse knows no bounds. Many people may say, it could never happen to them, but it can happen to anybody. You may not realize it until you are in too deep. Mariah continues to say, “I’m still not sure of the toll it has taken on me, how much of me was permanently destroyed or arrested,” (page 147). The effect of the abuse she experienced at the hands of Mottola continues to affect her twenty-three years later. She continues to heal because time is not synonymous with pain. The abuse may be over, but it still leaves behind wounds and affects other parts of her life.
Fortunately, Mariah Carey has not let anything hold her back, as she continues to live her life under the public eye. Mariah has still been able to live a fulfilling life even after all she has endured, leading to the birth of her twins Moroccan and Monroe with Nick Cannon. Mariah and Nick were married in 2008 and divorced in 2016 after being separated for two years starting in 2014. Mariah explains, “Honestly, I think Nick and I could have worked it out between the two of us, but egos and emotions got inflamed,” (page 458). Mariah describes their reasoning for the longevity of their past romance as “fresh” and his “perpetual teen spirit” which was quite the opposite she had experienced in the past. They meshed well because of his teen spirit and her “eternally twelve” youth. Although their marriage didn’t last, he helped her realize that love, kids, and family was possible.
Initially, I wasn’t expecting to take away so many jewels from her book as I was looking to take in some of the sensational moments like her marriage to Tommy Mottola and Nick Cannon or behind the scenes details about the classic Sparkle, but not only did she deliver on the tea, she spilled knowledge. This may be one of the rare opportunities we get to see her being so open. Although, the controversial Eminem feud was left out it was still a juicy read. I recommend this book to not just Mariah Carey fans, but people interested in a great narrative.
The memoir was very comprehensive of all things Mariah and who could do that better than Miss Carey herself?
Source: Carey, Mariah, and Michaela A. Davis. The Meaning of Mariah Carey. , 2020. Print.