Exactly 365 days ago, the commercials ran:
Mariah Carey headlines Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC, minutes before the ball drops.
Unfortunately, Mariah, her team, and Dick Clark Productions all dropped the ball… a little too early. The wrong ball at that. I’m sure you remember what happened, and there’s no need to go through the motions one more time. The morning after, I wrote a piece defending Mariah, and I still stand by what I said there.
Fast forward 365 days, and the commercial is the same:
Mariah Carey headlines Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC, minutes before the ball drops.
The Queen of the Comeback has decided to have her shot at a “Take 2,” to vindicate herself. Reports from people involved and rehearsal footage seem to indicate she will be performing “Vision of Love,” “Hero,” and maybe one more song. Apparently there will not be any dancers this go-round, and she will be accompanied by a choir. Dick Clark Productions is hyping up the performance big time, once again giving Mariah headliner status, and referring to her as the Legend she is. No doubt, the pressure is on. This is a big deal.
So, I feel like I need to speak one more time before my Queen takes the stage (while you wait, check out our Top Albums of 2017 list).
I don’t think I really need to make an argument as to why Mariah Carey is a iconic music legend and deserves our respect. Her accolades, record sales and impact are all clear as day. Anyone who denies her that is simply a hater, looking to degrade her.
Rather, there is this other issue with Mariah that has seemed to permeate gossip-columns and the minds of many casual pop culture fans: that Mariah Carey is a bitchy, difficult diva whose bad attitude cancels out any respect she might deserve for being the iconic legend that she is.
Well, my answer to that is no… just, no.
The Diva Defense: Mariah Carey has the kindest heart.
People say some disgusting things about Mariah Carey, and it is really upsetting to me because I know that beyond all of the glitter, glamour and glory, there is a fragile, vulnerable, yet strong soul with the kindest heart. She does not deserve the horrible treatment she receives. When she walks off that stage tonight, whether she slays it (which I am confident she will) or not, she still deserve our respect and love.
I could talk about the more public evidence of why I say this, such as her support of the Fresh Air Fund’s Camp Mariah or other humanitarian efforts she is a part of. I could also talk about things I have seen or heard about from other fans… but I’m going to make things a little more personal.
On several occasions, I was fortunate enough to have actual conversations with Mariah Carey. I share these stories not to brag, but to illustrate what a beautiful human being she truly is.
Me & Mariah…
On August 25, 2006, two days after her show at Madison Square Garden, Mariah and I went up to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut for one more round of her The Adventures of Mimi tour. I made a sign, which I also brought to the Garden, that said “Please, Mimi, sing ‘The Roof’,” — she did not notice it in NYC, but I was determined to get her attention at my second and last date of the Mimi tour. You see, during the tour she had actually been taking fan-requests from reading signs, so, I thought that I had a fair shot of getting her to sing my favorite song ever, “The Roof,” at my first time attending a Mariah tour. However, I had no idea and could never have been prepared for what would come of it.
So, here I am minding my own business at the Mariah Carey show, 16 years old, sitting alone, prepared to get my life. I was hoping she would see my sign and sing a little snippet of “The Roof,” but at the same time thinking I was probably too far or she would never notice it among the crowd. Yet, Mohegan Sun was a bit different. This crowd wasn’t jam packed with lambs, it was filled with the casino crowd who wasn’t the most lively. So, perhaps it would be my lucky day?
Indeed, it was. As Mariah prepared to sing “Always Be My Baby,” she surveyed the crowd and my sign caught her eye. “And I like that sign you got right there,” she sang to me, cooing, “I wish I could sing that song, but the band don’t know it.” It was such a surreal moment. All the people in my general vicinity turned and looked at me and I totally freaked out… skip to 0:41 in the audio below to hear her singing to me:
Then, magically, after the show, I was invited backstage to meet Mariah in her dressing room. When I walked in, she looked and saw I was holding the sign and excitedly asked, “you heard me right?! I sang to you!” She was so genuinely excited to meet me, and to know that I heard her. It was inexplicably sweet.
She went on to rant about how unfortunately the band didn’t know “The Roof,” or else she would’ve have sung it because she loves it (as we all know). Even more, she talked about how unfortunately the bulk of the crowd likely would not have known it either because, she groaned, it didn’t get the single treatment it deserved. Then, she asked what I thought of the show. I was amazed that she cared to hear my opinion, and I assured her it was great. I also told her that I was in attendance of the MSG show, too, and thanked her for doing one of my favorites, the “Make It Last” remix of “Thank God I Found You.” I told her it was the song that made me into a huge fan. She was elated at the mention of the remix, asking “Really? How did you know it? It was a bit of an obscure remix.” That always confused me, because it was hardly obscure – it had a video after all, but I told her about how I grew up on Long Island, like her, and that it was all over NYC’s urban stations. Of course, she loved the mention of this and we preceded to stan for our favorite radio stations together (107.5 WBLS and 98.7 KISS FM in particular, may it Rest in Peace). Imagine, your favorite artist casually chatting with you about your favorite radio stations?
From there, she treated me as if we were all old friends and started to talk about how a pipe had burst in her NYC penthouse, explaining how everyone’s favorite Jack Russell Terrier, Jack, enjoyed the water park effect that came with the plumbing troubles. Now, mind you, this was my first time ever having a conversation with her and I felt so at ease. In the past, I was always quiet and star struck when meeting celebrities. But Mariah was so warm and friendly, so I felt completely comfortable just chatting away with her. After some more friendly banter, it was picture time. She asked her then-manager Mark Sudack to take the photo for us, and then, in true diva fashion, asked “Is it good?” before taking my camera to look at the photo preview herself , giving it Mimi’s stamp of approval, “We have to make sure you get a good photo to show your friends, dahhhhling,” she insisted. Then, she offered to autograph my sign, and before she did, asked, “Is it Vinny with a -y or an -ie, we have to spell it right now, dahhhhling. I know how that is.” From there, she hugged me goodbye, until next time…
In 2009, we chatted again at the “I Want to Know What Love Is” video shoot and when I said, “Hi Mariah, I’m Vinny – I don’t know if you remember, but we met at Mohegan Sun during the Mimi tour…” before she cut me off, finishing my sentence: “And you had the sign for me to sing ‘The Roof’ and came backstage! Nice to see you again.” It was a quick moment, but it left me shook. How could this superstar remember our small moment, three years after the fact? I was amazed. It truly shows how much she values her fans.
The following fall, a very pregnant Mariah found herself selling clothes and things on HSN, giving us plenty of hilarious moments. My favorite, though, was when I called into the show and actually got through to talk to her. The folks at HSN answered, asked me my name and location, and told me to wait on the line until they introduced me. So, naturally, I waited… shook. A few minutes later, they “introduced” me to Mariah: “Mariah, we have Vincent from New York on the line…” I shakily said “hi Mariah!” Mariah’s response?
“Vincent, from New York, don’t I know you dahhhling?” Once again, I reminded her of the sign at the Mimi tour, and once again she finished my sentence. She went on to explain to the co-hosts and viewers what we were talking about, about how “The Roof” is an underrated favorite of hers and the fans’. She thanked me for calling, and I think I told her that I bought some of her things for my mother, and that was that. I was once again stunned that she could remember our little connection.
Fast forward another few years, to April 2014. Mariah made a surprise appearance in Times Square in promotion of her then-upcoming album, Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse, and I was in the right place at the right time. When Mariah stormed the scene, I got scooped up in the madness, right alongside Mariah. I ended up standing right next to her as she posed for photographs in front of the billboard of herself. After posing, she recognized me, grabbed my hand, leaned in to me, and said “It’s madness but I am trying to give them moments dahhhling!” before her security tried to whisk her away. Mariah, though, apparently wanted me to come along and kept her grip on my hand. So, I followed her… until her security told me to let go, to which I responded, “she’s holding onto me!” Can you imagine?
A few months prior to that moment, in November 2013, Mariah teamed up with Jimmy Fallon to surprise a group of her biggest fans. Luckily, I was selected to join this group of fans. We were told we would be listening to her new single “The Art of Letting Go,” and that they would film our reactions to show Mariah on the show the following day. Long story short, the surprise ended up being that Mariah was hiding in a vocal booth in the studio where we listened – and she popped out mid-song, singing live right in front of us.
Following the filming of this surprise moment, Mariah invited us back into the studio with her to record some footage for the clip. This time, though, she freestyled an amazing moment “for the laughs.” She played off of the energy in the room, that of pure love, and gave us the most amazing live performance. Never had I been that close to Mariah Carey, while she sang with only a piano at her side. It was surreal.
Just last year, I waited in the cold after one of her Christmas shows to catch a glimpse of her and say hello. She was gracious enough to ignore her security rushing her and braved the cold for a few minutes to chat with us. She even signed a few items for my friend, and was so very kind. A true diva would’ve ignored us and strutted off to her car.
So, you may call her a diva, sure… but only if it’s because she is a supreme vocalist who can be a little over the top and extravagant at (most) times. But in my 20+ years of being a fan, and in all of the one on one experiences with her, I have NEVER witnessed any semblance of bitchiness or diva attitude. I challenge you to find evidence of her being rude to fans, or anyone really… you’d be hard pressed to find it.
In short, tonight, after Mariah Carey headlines Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve stage, I hope that the world celebrates and praises her with as much fervor and passion as they used to trash her following last year’s performance. And, if for some reason she doesn’t slay (God forbid), perhaps have some humanity, say, “oh well” and move along. I am confident, though, that she will bring in the year right, and that 2018 will be her year. Get ready. While you wait, check out our Top Albums of 2017 list!
Diva Defense is a new column for our readers to celebrate their favorite divas beyond the music. Our love for Divas is born from the music, but sustains and strengthens because of the bonds of love and humanity we share with these mislabeled “divas.” Do you have a personal story to share about your favorite diva? Mariah? Janet? Beyoncé? Someone else? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance for your story to be published on EST. 1997!