Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31



Mariah: Free at Last
by Lawrence Ferber

This article shared 4595 times since Wed Apr 6, 2005
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

What makes a superb crossover pop/ dance/r&b/hip-hop album? An artist with one-of-a-kind personality, phenomenal vocals, excellent production, talented guest contributors, and that sparkly quality the hip-hop kids ( and now the Oxford English Dictionary! ) call 'bling-bling.'

'I would say there definitely is 'bling' in the album,' admits Mariah Carey, amused. She's discussing her latest and possibly greatest album, The Emancipation of Mimi ( Island Def Jam ) . With production/vocal contributions from Jermaine Dupri, The Neptunes, Kanye West, Twista, Snoop Dogg and Nelly, and Carey's unmistakable voice arranged and textured in fresh new ways, the album represents a superb 21st century reinvention of the seven-octave performer. And yeah, it's just bursting with jewelry-like bling-bling. 'I like bling,' Carey laughs. 'It's got a certain quality that when you put it on it lights up the moment.'

Carey has plenty of work to do today, yet the earthy and forthcoming diva happily made time for a 'gay' interview. 'There was a time when all I was allowed to do was go to gay clubs,' she recalls, 'because my quote-unquote husband was so afraid of me being around straight people.' But back to The Emancipation of Mimi. A year and a half in the making, the album's catchy, Jermaine Dupri-produced first single, 'It's Like That,' is already burning up the charts and dance floors. David Morales has performed his club magic on the track and an upcoming nine-minute remix of 'Say Somethin'.' Other upbeat album standouts include 'Shake It Off,' the playfully '80s-ish pickup ditty 'Get Your Number,' and smooth super-blingy 'To The Floor.'

'This is very much like a party record,' Carey says. 'Since the time I was in junior high the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out ... those are the moments you want to put on a record and get excited [ about ] whatever it is you're gonna do. I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that.'

Yet The Emancipation of Mimi is balanced out by a generous handful of ballads and downtempo numbers, many of which deal with heartbreak, bad relationships, and cheating lovers. 'In some ways I feel the songs flow together really well,' Carey insists. 'Like you're going out, you're coming down from going out and then another song picks you back up.'

As on all of her previous albums, Carey co-wrote every song on Emancipation. So where did all those breakup songs come from? 'Past experiences darling,' she laughs. 'You try to take those moments and channel them into something because if not you just become bitter!'

'Shake It Off' takes a playful approach to bitterness—and, more specifically, a cheatin' bad apple—with lyrics like 'I gotta shake you off/ just like a Calgon commercial.' 'That's probably one of my favorite songs on the album,' she admits. 'Shake it off can apply to anything. Whatever personal dramas we go through, put that song on and you lose the anxiety or intensity of the moment. I'll listen to that song when I've just come out of an annoying meeting. I gotta shake this off.'

The Emancipation of Mimi isn't a concept album per se, but it definitely sees Carey, whose closest friends and family call her Mimi, shaking off what audiences have come to expect. 'It's more the record I always wanted to make type of a thing,' she notes. 'Everyone expects [ an album title ] like Rainbow or Butterfly, from me. So I thought The Emancipation of Mimi was cool—that Mimi side of me coming out as opposed to the 'Mariah Carey' celebrity or stigma or whatever preconceived notions people have of me as that person. This time I really experimented and played with how [ my vocals ] sounded as a whole.'

That said, longtime fans will find plenty of her vocal/lyrical signatures and 'drama' on tracks like 'Mine Again,' 'Joy Ride' and 'I Wish You Knew.'

A Long Island, New York native, Carey's life in music started the moment she was born: her mother named her after a song, 'They Call The Wind Mariah.' Mom also helped instill a sense of open-mindedness and acceptance in Carey, which surely helped lead to her garnering legions of gay fans and friends. 'I've always tried not to judge people,' she explains. 'My mom being an opera diva, artsy love everybody kind of rebellious girl from the Midwest who married a Black man and who had predominantly gay friends. Nothing ever seemed like it was wrong or strange to me. It was a loving type of vibe I got. I basically was raised by two gay men, Ernie and Mort, who were best friends. When we didn't have a place to stay we stayed with them. So I feel like God recognizes us all as human beings and loves us as we are.'

Carey began singing by age four, wrote songs by middle school, and moved to NYC after high school to pursue a musical career. She admits that love—and sex—took a backseat during much of her youth. 'I'm kind of a prude, especially with straight guys because they can be dogs,' she admits. 'My sister had a baby when she was 15—I'm thankful she did because her son is an amazing person, but I looked at what was going on with that and I made a conscious effort to focus on my career. And people would make fun of me because I was this virginal girl who walked around in tight dresses. They were like what is this dichotomy going on here? So [ in terms of sexual experimentation ] I haven't really been the most exploratory gal in the land. I know that's boring for the readers!'

Her self-titled 1990 debut launched Carey into the pop ( and drag queen lip synch repertory ) stratosphere with four No. 1 singles, including 'Someday,' and two Grammy wins for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. More hits, awards and platinum discs followed over the years for Emotions ( 1991 ) , Music Box ( 1993 ) , Daydream ( 1995 ) , Butterfly ( 1997 ) and Rainbow ( 1999 ) . Yet in summer of 2001, Carey hit a spot of rough road with the critically mauled film Glitter and a series of personal/public breakdowns ( not to mention the death of her father and breakup with boyfriend Luis Miguel ) .

Carey looks back at that quintessentially 'Behind The Music'-worthy period 'as something that had to happen in my life,' she says. 'The drama would not have been high enough without that. I really do feel a lot was made out of that time period, it was so blown out of proportion. That movie and that soundtrack—which I think had some really good songs that hopefully one day I'll get to redo—the fact it came out on September 11th people need to remember. How can we expect anything from that? I was a scapegoat in a lot of ways for a lot of talk show hosts who wanted to get away from the real stuff going on in the world. We all have to go through our tests to see how strong we are and come out on the other side.'

She's definitely on that other side now, and Carey says she owes this fact to God and spirituality. The final song on Emancipation, 'Fly Like a Bird,' boasts dashes of gospel, soul, and plenty of calls/thanks to a higher power. Her pastor even makes an appearance on the track. 'To me the most important thing is the message he says in the beginning of the song,' she notes. ''Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.' I felt like a lot of people may not hear that message and a lot of people need to. It wasn't to be preachy. A lot of times people will hear songs that I write that are not the typical songs people look at as 'Mariah Carey songs.' Like 'Close my Eyes,' which only real fans would know but a lot of [ them ] relate to. It's about having a difficult childhood and going through a lot of deep stuff. There's a song called 'Outside' that's about being biracial. A lot of people relate to it because they felt like outsiders all their lives. There are a lot of songs I've put on albums as a [ personal ] release but I know it helps other people. To show that someone else has gone through what they've gone through.'

Marriage is one thing Carey doesn't plan to go through again just yet. When asked about her feelings regarding the hot topic of gay marriage, Carey first responds by stating 'I think it's a huge political thing and I'm notoriously not political. If you asked me about any candidate I'm pretty much clueless. But I feel like everything in life is a personal choice.' Then, after a few minutes, she adds that 'when you mention [ gay ] marriage, marriage in general, after going through the experience I went through I think my whole view on marriage is tainted no matter what kind of marriage we're talking about. I feel like I went into my situation being married for the wrong reasons. I've been traumatized.'

Happily, gays—such as Heatherette designers Richie Rich and Traver Rains— have been and continue to be a positive presence in her life and career. 'I don't want to out anybody!' she laughs when asked for names of gays who have worked alongside her. 'But I would venture to say yes! Definitely!' And Mariah does have an exciting series of projects ahead. She's considering another foray into film acting ( her performance in the underrated Wisegirls, opposite Mira Sorvino, garnered attention from many movie producers ) , a possible remix EP, producing a track for 12-year-old vocalist Paul Robbins ( they appeared on Oprah ) , and 'there's possibly a Broadway Christmas show happening, based around my Christmas songs.' Bling-bling it on, Mariah!

This article shared 4595 times since Wed Apr 6, 2005
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

THEATER Underscore to permanently close; festival gains new home 2022-09-23
- The board of directors of Underscore Theatre Company announced the company will close its doors permanently after eleven dynamic years of producing musical theatre in Chicago, including 16 world premieres. However, the company's Chicago Musical Theatr ...

Gay News

MUSIC Cabaret singer Jeff Harnar talks Sondheim, coming out 2022-09-23
- Jeff Harnar wasn't born in Chicago, but he will tell you first-hand that it is his home. Having spent his formative years in this city, Harnar discovered a passion for musical theater. Decades later, he has ...

Gay News

MUSIC 'A Boy Band Christmas' coming to Hard Rock Live on Dec. 18 2022-09-22
- A Boy Band Christmas is coming to Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana's Hard Rock Live venue in Gary, Indiana on Sunday, Dec. 18. Doors open at 6 p.m. The event will feature Jeff Timmons, Drew Lachey ...

Gay News

Artemis Singers to present 'Samhain - Encounters through the Veil' Oct. 29 2022-09-22
-- From a press release - CHICAGO─Artemis Singers,, Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus, will present a unique, timely concert, "Samhain - Encounters through the Veil," about the time of year when we reflect on those who have gone before and honor t ...

Gay News

Riot Fest heats up (through music and controversy) in 2022 2022-09-22
- For three days, Riot Fest took rock and roll fans on a rollercoaster of a ride in Douglass Park. Located in Chicago's North Lawndale community area at 1401 S. Sacramento Dr., this loud outdoor celebration of ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Watermelon Woman,' 'Dragula,' Indigo Girls, 'Dahmer' series 2022-09-18
Video below - Cheryl Dunye shared a photo on Facebook confirming that her 1996 groundbreaking lesbian-themed film Watermelon Woman is now officially part of the National Film Registry Library. According to the library's website, some of the other movies ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Cabaret' at Metropolis through Oct. 22 2022-09-17
- Musical Broadway classic and hit film Cabaret re-creates the decadent and complicated world of 1929 Berlin at the Arlington Heights venue Metropolis Performing Arts Centre through Oct. 22. Cabaret is Kander and Ebb's legendary musical masterpiece ...

Gay News

Park district pushing change as criticisms of Chicago music festivals increase 2022-09-15
- As criticism increases over the use of public parks for large-scale events put on by private companies, leaders at the Chicago Park District are moving to change their code to mandate a board vote to sign ...

Gay News

Six Flags hosts 'Out in the Park' 2022-09-13
- Out in the Park—an annual private diversity event featuring unlimited riding of all Six Flags Great America's thrill rides—took place Sept. 10. Attendees enjoyed rides, eats and music (the latter courtesy of DJs). According to a ...

Gay News

MUSIC Raue Center to host ABBA tribute on Oct. 15 2022-09-12
- Raue Center for the Arts will welcome "Mania: The Abba Tribute," from London's West End, to downtown Crystal Lake at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15. "Mania" takes audiences back in time by recreating one of ...

Gay News

Elton John's 'last' U.S. show to air Nov. 20 on Disney+ 2022-09-12
- The show being promoted as Sir Elton John's "last" U.S. concert—a Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour gig at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium—will livestream on Disney+ on Nov. 20, Rolling Stone reported. The streaming service officially announce ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Religion movie, Laverne Cox, 'Will & Grace,' Jeopardy!, Elton John 2022-09-11
- The LGBTQ+ film Wonderfully Made—LGBTQ+R(eligion) will have its New York premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 29, following its world premiere at Out in Film in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 24, per a ...

Gay News

THEATER Chicago Shakespeare running 'The Notebook' through Oct. 16 2022-09-10
- Chicago Shakespeare Theater is running the world premiere of The Notebook, a new musical based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks that inspired the iconic film. The production will run through Oct. 16. Allie and ...

Gay News

Chicago House Music Festival to showcase national and local talent Sept. 15 - 18 2022-09-09
-- From a press release - CHICAGO—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced today the full lineup and expanded dates for the annual Chicago House Music Festival and ...

Gay News

Broadway musical Chicago to open Sept. 12 with Angelica Ross as Roxie Hart 2022-09-09
-- From a press release - The Broadway company of the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking hit musical Chicago will welcome actress and human rights advocate Angelica Ross ("Pose," "American Horror Story") making her Broadway debut in the ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.




About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.