Dressed in a simple but chic navy blue jacket and trousers, with her caramel-coloured hair straight and shiny, Mariah Carey is looking calm and radiant.
Seated in a chair by the window of an elegant New York hotel, The Biggest Selling Female Artist Of All Time rises to greet us as we come through the door. She's tall. At 5ft 9in, plus 5in heels, we almost have to crane our necks.
'Hello, how are you?' she smiles.
There is, of course, a reason for the special glow that emanates from the singer. Having confirmed the best-kept secret in town last month, Mariah Carey is delighted she will soon be a yummy mummy.
After months of fevered 'is she, isn't she?,' Mariah and her husband Nick Cannon announced that they are expecting their first child in the spring. So how is she feeling? 'Utter contentment,' confesses the singer. Any morning sickness? 'It's been more of a constant "ugh!" feeling. I do have a sort of underlying sensation of nausea sometimes, but throwing up isn't very good for your voice, so I've just tried to calm and relax.'
The fact the couple have been holding their cards so close to their chest in recent months can be partly explained by the revelation that Mariah suffered a miscarriage quite soon after they were married two years ago. 'After that experience, Nick and I were reluctant to call everyone after we took a pregnancy test,' says Mariah, who admits she suffered a bout of depression after losing her baby. 'I like to keep personal things personal. But I've learned there's so much that's personal in this business.'
Mariah is used to being one of the most talked about and photographed women on the planet. Recently voted in Japan as The Most Exciting Woman In The World, the star was also given the Legs Of A Goddess award by Gillette two years ago, prompting her to insure her pins for a huge undisclosed sum. Her recent changing body shape has been endlessly discussed, although when we met her last year pre-pregnancy, she was looking slim and toned. Mostly, though, she appears voluptuous and sexy and is a definite role model for 'real' women everywhere.
For her own part, Mariah is more than aware of the physical changes her pregnancy will bring. 'It's not easy being a public figure with everyone around you being model-thin,' she confesses. 'I'm like, "Oh, those were the days!" All that seems to fit me right now are my pyjamas. Actually, you could say you'll be seeing more of me now when you do see me,' she quips.
For someone who has always been so focused on her career, Mariah admits her happy marriage was a big factor in her decision to start a family.
'I always wanted to feel this unconditional love. But I never wanted to think about it without being in a grounded relationship. I know many people are single parents, and that's fine if it works for you, but I wanted to bring my child into a family with a mother and father who live together and love each other,' says the singer, who married Nick a presenter, comedian, award-winning actor and multi-millionaire CEO of Teen Nickelodeon two and a half years ago.
'The great thing about Nick is he just totally supports me, and if he gives an opinion about my work, then I like to hear it. I know it always comes from the right place, because he's got such a good heart. For maybe the first time in my life I feel totally cherished and adored,' says Mariah.
And there certainly is no doubting the strength of feeling between the couple, with Nick admitting he'd held a candle for his 'celebrity crush' for many years before eventually meeting her at an awards ceremony in 2005. He, more than anyone, has been aware of Mariah's maternal instincts. 'She's going to be the most amazing mom ever,' he said recently. 'She's a nurturing spirit.'
This caring side of Mariah is something the public may not see, although those closest to her certainly do. In fact, Mariah has the same friends since school days. ' I think one of the most down-to-earth things about me is I value my frienships,' she reveals. 'All my friends know that MC keeps her word. I'm very loyal and never divulge their secrets.'
Every Christmas the singer flies her pals out to Aspen so they can spend the holiday with her and her family. Like a mother hen, she oversees the whole event, and is even head chef on the day. Cooking, in fact, is one of Mariah's specialties. 'My favourite recipe too, and he left it to me before he passed.'
As our interview draws to a close we stand up ready to leave. Noticing that it's raining, Mariah is concerned about our journey home. 'You can't go out in this!' she exclaims. 'You'll get soaked. I'm going to organise a car for you.'
We'd heard all the rumours that Mariah Carey is difficult, or a diva, or that she 'doesn't do stairs,' but nothing could be further from the truth. All we found was a sweet, caring, smart woman. Looks like she's going to make a great mummy. The yummy bit seems to come naturally too.