Vision of love

Wherein we reflect with music goddess and queer ally Mariah Carey on her artistry, her new Vegas show and her love for the gay community

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Nearly 25 years after I first heard her voice on cassette, my phone rings. It’s Mariah Carey, the sales-crushing icon with a whopping 18 No. 1 singles, the five-time Grammy winner  and the outspoken LGBT ally. We talk about Las Vegas, where she’s headlining The Colosseum at Caesars Palace with her show Mariah No. 1 to Infinity, and how now armed with more confidence, she says she can go on vocal “tangents.” Naturally, her lingerie collection comes up. Carey also elaborates on the “unconditional love” she’s experienced from the LGBT community, which she emphasized when GLAAD recently recognized her with an Ally Award for all the lives she’s changed … an honor she received, in part, and most admirably, by changing her own.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Let’s start with the GLAAD Media Awards, because what a big moment to finally see you honored for being an ally. You acknowledged the “unconditional love” from the LGBTQ community. What did you mean when you said you haven’t experienced much unconditional love outside of the gay community? And why do you think the gay community in particular has stuck by you through thick and thin?  Mariah Carey:  What I was trying to express — and it was all so fast and it wasn’t the world’s greatest speech ’cause I just wanted to try and speak from my heart and, you know, sometimes there’s so much going on and it’s not the best representation of what I really wanted to say, which would’ve been simpler. Which is basically: Some of the songs that I have written, like I have a song called “Outside” that a lot of people from the gay community have always said they grew up listening to and were like, “That helped me come out to my family.” Different things.

And so, as a songwriter, I wrote that song about me feeling like an outsider, about being biracial and a lot of other things in my life. I like to leave it open so people can relate it to their own lives, and a lot of my fans tell me, “This song helped me get through having to talk about being gay with my family and with my friends,” and stuff like that. There are other songs, too, because I kind of come from that place of feeling different or not accepted, and so that’s what I meant.

As a teenager, the lyrics for “Outside” really resonated with me. “Looking In” as well. When were you first aware that you were kindred spirits with the gay community?  The whole thing in terms of me feeling really comfortable around all different types of people, including different races, religions, gay, straight, whatever, started as a kid. Most kids that I grew up around had never even met anyone gay, but my mom was always very theatrical and she had a lot of gay friends, so I grew up with her two best friends who were guncles before people knew what that was. And yeah, they were great to me. They really treated me well as a little girl. Obviously gay marriage wasn’t, you know, like it is now — it wasn’t legal — so they weren’t married. But they lived together and they were my example of a really great couple. They stayed together for as long as I knew them, and so to me, that was just normal. I wasn’t like, “Oh, wow, this is weird; my mom’s friend is gay.”

I guess I was just always comfortable because they were kind to me, and cool. And so then when I grew up I would always naturally gravitate toward the fun gay guy in school, you know what I mean? You know! It’s just like different moments. Even a friend of mine when I was growing up, her mom was in a relationship with another woman and they lived together and the whole thing, but she didn’t know — she didn’t understand it. But because I had such an open-minded mother who explained that kind of stuff to me, I wasn’t gonna out her mother to her. I was just like, “OK, fine.”

You’ve been a lifeline for many of your LGBT fans because you’ve showed us that even an outsider can find his or her place. When was the first time in your life you were exactly the person you wanted to be?  Wow. The first time I can think of, and this is a great thing that actually incorporated work and fun and being free and music, was when I made the video for “Honey” [in 1997], and I went swimming in the shoes. It was just… I always wanted to have the freedom to be myself and I wasn’t in a situation where that was OK; I wasn’t allowed to because of that, uhh, first relationship [to ex-husband and then-Sony Music head Tommy Mottola]. I had to overcome a lot to get through that, but that video — prior to that, I always had to settle for less than I wanted to be, and I wasn’t allowed to be who I was. And it really took a lot of courage. It wasn’t just like, “I’m gonna make a video.” It was, “I am moving on with my life, and I have to for my own self because I’m trapped in a situation.”

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Carey just completed her first set of Las Vegas performances, but returns in August and September for more. Tickets are available at Caesars.com.

You’re doing some of your earliest songs during your Vegas residency. How has your voice and your approach to singing these songs, some of which are over 20 years old, changed?  You know what, certain days I’m like, “Oh, this is a really good day for me; I had a lot of vocal rest today and blah, blah, blah,” and some days for me I have to be a little bit more experimental and play around on stage because maybe it’s not as strong for that minute. Really, I just think I’ve become more confident and more experimental in a good way, if you know what I mean, in using different parts of my voice and things. I always did it, but I was more “stick to the script” and “don’t go off on a tangent.” You know, I think that people kind of like the tangents that I have! (Laughs) Singing tangents. Breaking a high heel on stage tangents; whatever the case may be.

You in your lingerie making pizza tangents — all of it.  It was real! That’s what I walk around in! I barely own any clothes! All I have is friggin’ lingerie.

How have you made yourself feel at home in Vegas?  I just bought a lot of lingerie!

What do you think 1990 Mariah would think of 2016 Mariah?  Ah, I don’t know… I was such a kid, just in over my head, but I knew that I was gonna do this for my life and soooo: I probably would’ve been like, “Who does your hair and makeup?” ’Cause they had me with some people who didn’t know what they were doing and I knew it wasn’t really good and I’d just be like, “Who does your lighting, hair and makeup?” is what I’d ask her.

They liked to put you in a lot of black.  They did. It was just like, ahhh, such a long story. You don’t even wanna know.

We’ve seen a lot of greats pass away in the last several years: Prince, Whitney, Bowie. In what ways do their untimely deaths have you reflecting on your own legacy and what you want that to be?  It’s really interesting: I loved Prince and I still do. I love his music, and I’ll always have it, and I grew up listening to Prince, ya know what I mean? I was lucky enough to get to know him, but before I knew him I was listening to his music as an adolescent, as a kid, so his passing was very… I really felt like he was one of those people who would be around for a really long time because he just was kind of ageless in a lot of ways.

But in terms of me reflecting on my legacy? I’m not at that place right now. I’m still very much doing fun, creative things that, you know, I don’t want to go into a long, drawn out thing about, but a lot of different projects. Some movie things. I’m getting ready to go back in the studio really soon, and obviously I’m doing this residency in Vegas. It’s really fun, but I’m not trapped there. I can do other things. We just got back from the European tour, which was amazing audiences, and then we went to Africa, so it’s like, all that stuff is great.

But what do I think my legacy will be? It’s really hard for me to answer that. I just hope the fans who’ve been so supportive of me throughout my whole career will have my music and it’ll make a difference in people’s lives as you told me it did for you, which is amazing, because not everyone knows songs like “Outside” or “Looking In” or “Close My Eyes.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

9 unmissable CDs of 2014 (so far)

No. 2: Against Me!

1. Sia, 1000 Forms of Fear. Sia’s come a long way since “Breathe Me,” a song so emotionally vulnerable it borders on overwhelming. No wonder premier pop starlets have been knocking on her door, hoping for a piece of her songwriting genius (ask Rihanna and Beyoncé). Luckily, though, Sia held onto some of her gems for her first release in four years. The moving-on mantra “Burn the Pages” is a glorious circus of sounds, while soaring ballads “Big Girls Cry” and “Eye of the Needle” take her to new heights. A stunning full-blown pop achievement, this album should do the same.

2. Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Against Me!’s sixth release is a deeply personal outpouring, a disc as necessary — both to now-frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and the band’s fans — as it is empowering. An open diary exploring internal and external struggles with identity, but also acceptance and love, fear and loss, the complex, often-tremendous Transgender Dysphoria Blues triumphs at acknowledging one’s differences and the power that can be had when we embrace them.

No. 5: Mariah

3. Miranda Lambert, Platinum. While Lambert’s restless peers stray from the purity of the country genre to achieve mainstream acclaim, the Nashville Star alum (and reigning queen of country) has stuck to her guns and been rewarded for it. She’s known for slipping one in her back pocket should she need to pop an abusive lover, but what’s more, Lambert’s not leaving the house that built her. At least not any time soon, as demonstrated by yet another feather in her cowgirl hat with the irresistibly witty, hit-heavy Platinum.

4. Lykke Li, I Never Learn. It’s hard not to wish eternal sadness upon Lykke Li — her gloom inspires greatness. Thankfully, the Swedish songstress is in a bleak place on I Never Learn, an emotional reflection of fragility and isolation that abandons almost all sense of hope – and also almost all sense of pop. Li is better for it: The intimacy she strikes on this album is a portal into her broken heart.

5. Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah … The Elusive Chanteuse. The title is insane; the retouched album art, even more so. So how is it that Mariah Carey’s latest album — her 14th! — defies expectations, making for one of the diva’s best? Simply put: She. She is Mariah. And from the surprisingly low-key lead-in, “Cry,” to the glass-shattering gospel stunner “Heavenly (No Ways Tired / Can’t Give Up Now),” Carey affirms that when you’ve survived Glitter, anything is possible.

6. Sharon Van Etten, Are We There. Affecting without any of that sentimental preciousness, there’s a transparency to Sharon Van Etten’s latest that daringly exposes the visceral emotions of the end of a relationship. A stunningly sad truth-telling about two hearts that have grown apart, “I Love You But I’m Lost” cuts deep. “I Know,” too, is simple poignancy told potently. This fourth album from Van Etten is a work of soul-baring genius.

No. 7: The Antlers

7. The Antlers, Familiars. An enveloping soundscape of crescendos and thoughtful literary reflections, the Brooklyn band’s fifth album is, at its core, concerned with catharsis — particularly having to do with mortality. That universal certainty is threaded throughout Familiars. Void of singles, its intention is to be heard as a full narrative. Conjuring one endless dream with its majestic lacing of twinkling pianos and wistful horns — on “Palace,” particularly, it sounds like the sky is opening up — The Antlers know that even in death, there’s life.

8. Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines. Tori Amos is reinvigorated on Unrepentant Geraldines, a compelling return to the back-to-basics sound of her ’90s zenith. “Invisible Boy,” an obvious standout, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any of Tori’s earliest works. Then there’s “Promise,” an inspiring conversation with Amos’ daughter that sweetly embodies the lifelong bond between mother and child. (Read our interview with Tori, who performed last night at the Winspear, here.)

9. Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence. Lana Del Rey’s follow up to her claim-to-fame, Born to Die, is such a convincing piece of mainstream-defying art that it’s easy to write off that Saturday Night Live flub. Fleshing out the persona introduced on its 2012 predecessor, Rey’s follow-up feels like a hallucinatory acid trip — it could levitate you to the sky on its feathery sound pillows.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mariah Carey surprises gay fans at awards ceremony

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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey surprised a packed crowd at New York’s Terminal 5 when she made an unannounced appearance Thursday at Out Magazine’s annual OUT 100 bash in honor of her director pal Lee Daniels, the Huffington Post reported.

The 43-year-old pop diva was introduced at the event by the stars of HBO’s hotly-anticipated gay drama “Looking,” and drew cheers from the audience when she emerged in a skintight evening gown, her face coyly hidden behind a fan, after a short delay.

“I’m a straight girl, so I don’t really know why they asked me to be here — but my boobs have been out for years,” Carey quipped as she accepted the “Artist of the Year” award on Daniels’ behalf. Of the “Precious” and “Butler” director, who is openly gay, she noted, “He’s an innovator, he’s a dear, true great person … I live for him.”

The evening’s other high points included live musical performances by Steve Grand and Debbie Harry, while the well-dressed crowd also was treated to an advance peek at “Looking,” which stars out actors Jonathan Groff and Russell Tovey. Particularly moving was an appearance by Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) plaintiff Edie Windsor, who received a Lifetime Achievement honor at the event.

—  Steve Ramos

The gay interview: Jordin Sparks

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks’ first feature film — Sparkle co-starring the late gay icon Whitney Houston — opens tomorrow, and earlier this month she spoke frankly with our celeb correspondent Chris Azzopardi about working with Whitney Houston, their affection for their gay fan bases and how her Christian background taught her to love, not hate.

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Whitney Houston’s starring role — the last before her tragic death earlier this year — isn’t the only reason Sparkle has “gay” written all over it: There’s the flamboyant style of the ’60s, an all-girl singing group and, well, the movie’s name.

Seated in a hotel suite outside Detroit, where the film was shot, American Idol winner Jordin Sparks lights up knowing how many of her gay fans will see her on the big screen in her movie debut.

Sparks’ return to Motown in early August was even more appropriate when Aretha Franklin, who sang on the soundtrack for the 1976 original film, showed up to walk the red carpet with the remake’s star. Even though she lost a nail, the 22-year-old said having the Queen of Soul there was “absolutely incredible.”

About the finger fiasco: “I was freaking out because I looked at the picture of Aretha and me and the nail is gone.” That’s not a problem today, however. “I made sure I glued these suckers on like nobody’s business!”

After the jump, ever so bubbly Sparks chats about Whitney’s mutual adoration for the gay community, addressed “mean” rumors of her anti-gay upbringing and recalled her first time at a drag club — in Dallas!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LISTEN: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett duet on ‘The Lady is a Tramp’

Tony Bennett’s doing the duet thing again with his upcoming release, Duets II scheduled for release on Tuesday. The big hype was first about his work with Amy Winehouse. Then the buzz started in on his duet with Lady Gaga and how he has compared her to the likes of Elvis Presley. We finally get to hear what the latter’s collaboration sounds like. This was posted on YouTube today giving listeners a slight preview of the album.

The album is star-studded including queer faves Queen Latifah, Mariah Carey and k.d. Lang.

—  Rich Lopez

Mariah Carey at Nokia last night

Remember when Mariah Carey was a hot mess a few years ago? I don’t think she’s quite done with that whole stint just yet. Last night’s show had “train wreck” written all over it. And then “sinking ship” graffiti-ed over that!

The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 with opening act RydazNrtist. We didn’t make it in time for that but heard they were on and off the stage in no time. We arrived maybe a nickel after 8 p.m. With Michael Jackson’s greatest hits blaring over the speakers, the crowd seemed in an OK mood. That is until the crowd started to realize that both CDs of MJ’s hits were sounding like they would be played to completion. The air in the room was filling with frustration and after one MJ track too many, Nokia filled with aggressive booing by the entire audience. And then the lights went out. Although the audience then switched into screaming applause, the move felt more like a way to stifle the booing than building anticipation.

FYI – the above video is NOT from last night.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert notice: Mariah Carey brings her 'Angels Advocate' tour to Nokia in February

LiveNation released Mariah Carey’s itinerary for her Angels Advocate tour yesterday and it includes the DFW area. Carey will play the Nokia Theatre February 18, just in time for a slight post-Valentine’s celebration.

If you’re a very special member of Honey B. Fly, the official MC fan club, go to Carey’s site for ticket pre-sale info. Otherwise, tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 18 at noon and will run you between $59–$150. Visit LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster.com to order.

The video above is from her last concert in Dallas back in September ’06 at American Airlines. Not sure why she’s not returning to as big a venue. Seriously, if Pink can fill the place, I’m certain Carey still could.разработка дизайна сайта стоимость

—  Rich Lopez