Mariah Carey

She visited Mexico and posed exclusively for Quién. She talked about her family experiences, her troubled past and her memories of the intense relationship she lived with Luis Miguel.

Quién Magazine by Pedro Flores

Quién (MX) January 2003. Text by Nicole Tauler. Translation by The Mariah Network. Photography by Pedro Flores

Last time she was in Mexico she wasn't alone, she was very well accompanied by her great love, Luis Miguel, of whom she now has a happy memory. This time, the country Mariah knew hand-in-hand with the singer, welcomed her with the same warmth and affection as always.

The controversial pop singer looks very quiet and relaxed. You can see a special glow in her eyes, a reflection of the moment she's going through: she's starting a new chapter in her life. As part of her emotional therapy, nowadays she dedicates a great deal of her time working with charities, like The Fresh Air Fund, which helps poor children taking them to camps where they play and get guidance to pursue artistic careers. That is why she gladly agreed to visit last month to sing and help raise funds for the Teletón.

The reconciliation with Mexico

It's been a long time since you last came to Mexico. How did you feel during this trip?
I love this country. This time it's been really difficult for me to go sightseeing, but I've had a great time.

Did you have the chance to eat Mexican food? What's your favorite dish?
I love chicken fajitas; I could eat them all day, but I have to take care of myself and follow a diet. I can't allow myself to eat a lot, but I love them.

Do you have friends here?
Yes, I have some friends and some acquaintances in Mexico. People here are very kind and respectful; you can feel their warmth. I like that. They have a beautiful culture.

When asked about Luis Miguel, Mariah doesn't show her feelings, as if her relationship with the Mexican singer was something unimportant in her life. But that's not the case. Everybody knows that at the end of their relationship the singer went through a hard time, and that when Micky decided to end it, she suffered a nervous and emotional breakdown and had to be admitted to a special care center for several weeks.

During our conversation, Carey talks about Luismi with a poker face. She tries to stay expressionless. While she waits for the questions on this subject she stays still and concentrates on answering calmly, to emphasize that the pain is in the past.

What memories does Mexico bring you?
A lot, very nice things, special moments. It's a warm and beautiful country. It brings me good memories.

Of anybody in particular?
Many people, the Mexicans, my fans.

And Luis Miguel specifically?
I have nothing bad to say against him, on the contrary: he is a kind-hearted person, very talented; I admire and respect him greatly. It was a moment in my life that came and went. I have nice memories.

Mariah's life seems like out a fairytale, that's why many call her "Princess" or "Cinderella." She grew up in a difficult environment, surrounded by poverty. Her parents, Alfred Roy and Patricia, divorced when she was three years old. Little Mariah grew up with her mother, with whom she's still really attached, and her siblings Morgan and Alison. The latter became an addict at a very young age and contracted HIV. For several years, Mariah has tried to support her, but things with Alison have been very hard and nowadays the sisters don't even talk to one another.

Besides her heartbreak-related emotional problems, last year the singer had to go through one of the saddest moments in her life when her father, to whom she dedicated her latest album, Charmbracelet, died from cancer.

Your latest album is dedicated to your father and you even included a song in his honor, "Sunflowers for Alfred Roy." How was your relationship with him?
"Sunflowers" is a very special song, it's a gift for my father. It's very difficult for me to listen to it and to talk about it — her eyes fill with tears —, because his death was very tough. We found out he had cancer very late, at the end. It was terrible, a moment of forgiveness for matters past. I made the most of the last moments I spent with him.

What's left in you of that little girl who dreamed about singing and being famous?
Even though my situation and my lifestyle have changed a lot, I think there are still certain aspects of the little girl who's still trying to find some kind of peace.

Has it been hard to find that peace?
A lot of the times, people misinterpret my life in many ways. I am not the Cinderella many people think I am, I'm not a fairytale princess. I had a very difficult childhood because I was a multi-racial woman in the United States, which is very complicated. There was no money, we often didn't even have a place to sleep; we were very poor. Music was my salvation... my faith and my music.

Music and Mottola

Mariah Carey is currently one of the most successful singers worldwide. She sold over 80 million copies during the last decade, something she could have never imagined before being discovered by Tommy Mottola at seventeen.

One day Mariah went to a party with her demo tape in her purse and managed to give it to Mr. Mottola, who back then was the president of Columbia Records. Tommy listened to the tape and was so in awe with the girl's voice and talent that she went back to party to look for her, but she was already gone. Mottola left no stone unturned until he found the aspiring star and the rest is history: the CEO fell in love with the 23-year-old singer, dumped his wife and married Mariah when he was 44.

The Carey-Mottola marriage lasted four years. But one day it was time to move on from the first love, and Mariah continued with her life. Much more experiences would come along later on.

You have been through a lot at such an early age — 32 —. How tough was 2001 for you, with your nervous breakdown?
It was very difficult, but I think that five or six years ago I went through way harder stuff, worse than what I lived in 2001. I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't focus on the negativity, I always try to turn negative experiences into positive ones.

Is that what you did on Charmbracelet? Turn negative experiences into positive ones through your songs?
Yes. Many people have no idea I write almost all of my songs. This album was a healing process; I wrote about everything I've been through emotionally, let it all out, this is my story, told by me.

The song Clown is about a woman who falls in love with a famous singer. The lyrics are very special. Who is it about?
(Laughs) Look, as a woman, I've been through many situations in my love life. Many times you're somebody's friend and that person lies about you to other people; insinuates that things are different to what they really are... They are sad and lonely people; when they take off their mask, behind the curtain, they're different, they're not what they're pretending to be.

Mariah is calm. She dreams of her prince charming, and when she's lonely in her bed, tries not to think a lot. She doesn't miss an episode of The Sopranos and reads whenever she has time. The biggest lesson she learnt from the physical exhaustion she suffered two years ago for working too hard was to make time for herself and to rest every day. This is her self-imposed obligation. She now tries to surround herself by people who don't stress her, by friends, and makes the most out of life.