Oprah Winfrey has interviewed Mariah Carey ten times in the past 30 years. The first was when Mariah was just twenty-one years old and on top of the world as pop music’s newly crowned princess. Her rise to the top was meteoric, spawned by a stunning debut LP that showcased Carey’s otherworldly, seven-octave vocal range. That, combined with the masterful dictatorial direction of Sony Music Mogul Tommy Mottola, instantly allowed Carey to join the elite club of one named music legends like Cher, Madonna, and Whitney.
To promote her new memoir, The Meaning of Mariah, Carey sat down with Winfrey earlier this week on “The Oprah Conversation, ” – the latest talk-format show from the media mogul and Apple TV +.
As I discussed recently with gossip guru Rob Shuter on the Naughty But Nice podcast, this interview was Mariah’s most revealing to date. Unlike many of Mariah’s past projects that have felt far-too self-conscious and sometimes a little too sugar-coated for their own good, her new memoir is poignant, bold, and brutally honest as she recounts the unique racial bias she experienced as a bi-racial child, a mother who endangered her by sometimes placing her in “unsafe” environments, a verbally abusive father, and a tumultuous relationship with a brother and sister who she now refers to as her “ex-siblings.”
One of the most successful musical artists of all time, and one of the wealthiest, Mariah really opened up in her book and to Winfrey about her troubled relationship with her family and alleged that her brother and sister had been selling lies to the tabloids about her for years to make a few thousand dollars. At the same time, they would ask Mariah for money to which she claims she provided by the thousands, unknowing they were betraying her.
“I would never have spoken a word about anybody in my life — and I tried to be very fair — but people have drawn first blood with me historically,” said 50-year-old Carey … I wouldn’t have gone here if things hadn’t been done to me. If I hadn’t been dragged by certain people and treated like an ATM machine with a wig on.”
Describing her brother Morgan as extremely violent and her sister Alison as “troubled” and “traumatized,” she shared with Winfrey that she and her ex-siblings hardly know each other, largely because Mariah was the last born and years younger than they. By the time Mariah’s mother and father divorced, she was just two years old and lived exclusively with their mother, Patricia. Morgan and Alison remained with their father. Mariah speculates this, too, drew ire and resentment from her brother and sister.
Accomplished and larger-than-life, Mariah is also completely vulnerable in this new interview, and it’s refreshing. There are no Diva antics as she recounts her marriage’s near prison-like conditions to Tommy Mottola, who had intercoms installed in every room of their 19-bedroom mansion. She describes the smothering of being unable to simply venture into her own kitchen for a late-night snack without Mottola’s voice bellowing from the wall like God, asking, “What are you doing?”
Then too, more disturbingly, she shared the memory of a time her sister gave her cocaine when she was just 12 years old,
“Through all the years, both my sister and my brother have put me on the chopping block, sold lies to any gossip or rag or trashy website that would buy or listen. They have attacked me for decades. But when I was twelve years old, my sister drugged me with Valium, offered me a pinky nail full of cocaine, inflicted me with third-degree burns, and tried to sell me out to a pimp.”
Woah, that is heavy! I have not read the book yet, but as Oprah discussed it with Mariah, dissecting each chapter in a truly reflective and thoughtful way, it gave Mariah a far greater depth than I had ever given her credit for. Also, fans will appreciate learning the correlation between so many of Mariah’s biggest hits and the traumatic experiences that inspired them.
I think this book and the Oprah interview go beautifully beyond just providing fodder for fans. Mariah’s truth about her battles with self-doubt, insecurities, racism, betrayals, divorce, and even struggles with feeling self-worth provides many common denominators with which we all can relate.
It’s worth noting also the book was written in collaboration with Michaela Angela Davis, a celebrated pop culture commentator who has worked extensively in fashion, journalism, and activism.
Check out the preview below of the Oprah interview from ET Canada and visit Apple TV+ to watch for full listing