Carey-ed Away

Despite a hectic travel schedule and an endless to-do list, globetrotting superstar Mariah Carey always makes her way back to Aspen.

Aspen Peak (US) Spring 2007. Text by Leigh Honey Vogel.

Megastardom does not come without its hard work, passion, generous spirit, and quest for new and creative outlets... at least for Mariah Carey. The singer, songwriter, actress, and soon-to-be fragrance maker is on the go, on her way to Aspen, and has no plans of slowing down.

ASPEN PEAK: You recently wrapped up your US tour for your CD, The Emancipation of Mimi, and you're already heading for Japan. How are you feeling?
MARIAH CAREY: This is usually my vocal rest day. I just did a couple of shows back to back. I don't speak between shows, but this is my favorite magazine! I'm on my way to the airport, heading for Japan, and that tour is close to three weeks. I just came from Phoenix, and we had a slight party afterward, which I don't really do. Right now, it's all about the plane ride and silence.

AP: So this US tour was the first time you traveled by tour bus...
MC: I loved it. Everybody was laughing at me, like, "Yeah, right. You're so never gonna do that." I know I have this diva thing, but I really did like it.

AP: How was the experience overall?
MC: I had a lot of private time, which I don't usually. My apartment in Tribeca is really big and there are people around all the time. This was cozy. It felt like I had more independence. My dog Jack had his little nook. He has become a celebrity in his own right — he was nominated for two Relly awards [from Live with Regis and Kelly]. The funniest part is that he's taking the tour bus home right now.

AP: How does this tour compare with ones in the past?
MC: In my opinion, it was the biggest and best tour I've ever done. We had great supporting acts. Sean Paul opened up the first half of the tour. Busta Rhymes did the whole West Coast. It was great having them out there. The crowd was so diverse — from 14-year-old girls to 24-year-old hip-hop guys to older married couples.

AP: How many people tour with you?
MC: We had about 78 people, 13 trucks, and eight buses.

AP: I hear you're going to South Africa in December with Oprah when she opens a new school for girls. How did this come about?
MC: Oprah sent me an invitation. I had been to the Legends Ball as well, which was amazing and one of the most — no, the most — fabulous event I've ever been to in my life. The luncheon and the special care and time she took for her guests were amazing. And this trip should be an incredible piece of history, so I'm looking forward to being there. It's an honor and privilege to be invited.

AP: You'll be in Aspen for Christmas — how were you introduced to the town?
MC: I'll be there... for Christmas Day. I love the lead up to Christmas. I've been going [to Aspen] since about 1997. I went to Telluride first, which was cool and pretty.

AP: What do you plan to do here?
MC: I'm not a great skier at all. I take one run and ski in an outfit that's cute. The point is that I love having a white Christmas. I love the vibe of Aspen... not necessarily the whole paparazzi-celebrity thing, which is cool, but I do stuff like going on sleigh rides with friends. We go all out to really have the most lovely Christmas and to relive my dreams of being a kid. Being out in Aspen is always so amazing and picturesque. I have a sense of feeling at home there.

AP: Are there any places you go every year?
MC: I usually go to Matsuhisa — I think it's my favorite of all the Nobu restaurants. I've seen Chef Nobu there more than I've seen him in Japan. I'm usually at Joan Boyce's jewelry store. I like PiƱons. Their salad is my favorite.

AP: Back to the slopes: Do you ski only on Aspen Mountain?
MC: I've been to Snowmass. I think it's easier for skiers like me. I don't want to sit here and talk about how bad I am, but here's the problem — I'm not an early-to-rise person. I really like to sleep, so by the time I get to the slopes, it's always like the last run, so if I go to a snowboarding class or something, I'm not going to get much time in. I might as well ski one run and call it a day. But this year I'm going to try to go snowboarding. I haven't gotten past the "fall on your buttocks" stage yet, so I'm waiting for that to happen.

AP: But you'll have your friends here to look out for you.
MC: Yeah. I'll have friends and extended family here. I have a friend from England who's coming and in and another from Sweden who's been a friend since the 10th grade.

AP: Do you stay in the same place each year?
MC: I try different places, but I really would like to have a place in Aspen one day. I'm a very specific person. I built the place where I live now, and I've built places before. I kind of like things to be exactly how I like them. We know what that process takes... a billion years and a billion dollars!

AP: Would you like to live in town?
MC: I think something on the outskirts would be cool, but I could come in if I wanted to. I really like the serenity, and it looks like something out of an incredible painting. It's so gorgeous. It's not just about celebrity moments there. It's about fun. I actually go tubing all the time.

AP: You once worked with a charity and brought children here from Denver, who were living in an orphanage. Will you do that again this year?
MC: I'm trying to. It's a lot of fun, and Christmas is obviously about giving and sharing. If that means your time and creating a fun environment for kids, I think that's something everyone should try to do. It's really important for me to give back. I feel I've been so blessed. Last year we went ice skating [with the kids], which is pretty funny to watch. It's like watching me ski.

AP: Do you hike when you're here?
MC: Sort of, kind of. I don't think it would qualify in a hiking manual. I go on walks near where I'm staying, which usually has wooded areas and brooks.

AP: Where do you want to stay this year?
MC: I don't know yet, but it has to have a hot tub. I like to get out of the hot tub and roll in the snow. Someone told me that was a tradition in Aspen, but maybe they were lying to me. It's a tradition for us to have Santa Claus-looking bikinis, jump in the hot tub, and roll in the fresh snow.

AP: So after the week here, and then South Africa with Oprah, what's next on your agenda?
MC: I'm working on a movie that I've been really excited about called Tennessee, produced by Lee Daniels, who was the producer of Monster's Ball and The Woodsman.

AP: What's your role in the film?
MC: I play a waitress who is a down-home country girl. It's an ensemble piece and a nice role. The story is about two brothers who are on a journey to find their estranged father.

AP: When will the film be released?
MC: The goal is before Christmas 2007.

AP: You have a lot in front of you.
MC: Another big priority is a fragrance I'm launching with Elizabeth Arden. It's the first time I've ever done a fragrance. It's been an amazing and creative process. You sit down with the "juice" companies, and then they show you the different scents. You then compose the scent. The process was very similar to writing a song. The fragrance is almost done, and next is the bottling and then the marketing campaign. The fragrance will come out in conjunction with a new album, which I'll start working on right after Christmas.

AP: Is there a working title?
MC: There is, but I can't tell you right now!

AP: You've had an amazing success with The Emancipation of Mimi. You must be very proud of it.
MC: I'm really proud of winning the BMI Songwriter of the Year, and Song of the Year awards... it meant a lot to me. Unless people see you sitting behind a piano or strumming a guitar, they don't recognize you as a true songwriter, which I consider myself to be first and foremost. A lot of people don't realize that.

AP: Quite a year, right?
MC: The whole time I was just really looking forward to coming to Aspen.