The Meaning of Mariah Carey

In the ’90s, I was the biggest Mariah Carey fan. My brother was a huge fan of hers basically through her Rainbow album, and most of the time, whatever music he liked, I also liked, as well. We had all her albums as soon as they would come out, and we used to listen to her songs on repeat. When I finally got access to the Internet in 1997, I was always reading about her, finding out about her fan club, reading fan pages devoted to her. Everything about her seemed amazing to me.

After the Rainbow album, though, I think I stopped obsessively following her and every interview and performance she gave. Part of it was because her life was becoming way too dramatic, and part of it was because I just stopped following celebrities in general. But I never stopped appreciating how she came from absolutely nothing and made her dream happen. She came from a neglected, abusive household amidst constant violence and racism, and she had massive grit to get to her level of success and fame. So when I saw Trevor Noah interviewing her on The Daily Show about her new memoir, I figured it would be good to read it.

The audio version of the book has Mariah Carey narrating it herself, and with that, each chapter begins with a clip from a song that is meaningful for her, and she actually sings each part. What many are not aware of is that she’s not just a singer: she’s written or co-written pretty all her songs (minus the covers), and she’s also co-produced a majority of them, as well. So there’s a lot of personal, intimate lyrics she’s written, many of which have proven to be inspirational for millions around the world. I still remember Ed used to play “Make It Happen,” “Hero,” “Can’t Take That Away from Me,” and “I Am Free” on repeat.

Listening to her share her violent moments with her siblings and the many racist incidents she’s had to endure was really gut wrenching. It’s only made me respect her even more for what she’s managed to survive and how she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

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