Mariah Carey: You Ask The Questions

What is actually on your rider? Would you ever want to get married again? And do you do stairs?

You write most of your own songs, what inspires you?
JOHN MADIGAN, VIA E-MAIL

It depends. Tonight I was in a rare moment by myself and a melody and lyrics came to me - and I did not have my tape recorder right there so I had to run around and look for it. That was more of a gospel inspiration song, and that happens a lot with those type of songs. The melodies amaze me because they really are gifts from God, they just come to you out of nowhere.

What's it like to work with Snoop Dogg?
MIKE MCCONNELL, BRIGHTON

I love working with Snoop, this is the second time - technically the third, because we did a video together once for my song "Heartbreaker". Then we did "Crybaby" together, on my album Rainbow, which was out in 1999. That was one of my favourite songs off that record but at that point the record company did not understand that we had Snoop on the record, and that people love him. They still thought hip-hop was something new and I hated to break the news that it had been around for 25 years.

Which contemporary artists do you listen to?
JAMES YOUNG, VIA E-MAIL

There is a gospel singer named Kierra Sheard, Kiki they call her, she is Karen Clark Sheard's daughter. The Clark sisters are my favourite gospel group. She is 16 years old and has been singing with her mother over the years, and I have been just waiting for her to put an album out, which she did this year, and it is great. I listen to the radio a lot, I have always been a radio junkie. I work with Jermaine Dupri a lot and I like his work.

You reinvent yourself a lot. Which Mariah do you like best?
SARAH FORDHAM, ABERDEEN

That is a hard question, because wearing my hair differently or changing my style of dress is all a kind of playing dress-up - I don't take it too seriously. I do not think I reinvent myself. I never wear flat shoes because, since I was little, I walked on tippy-toes. I do not know why, it's something my friends make fun of, but the Mariah that stays constant is the one wearing high-heel shoes even if I am barefoot.

As the 90s' top-selling artist, what do you hope to remember about this decade now?
LUCY MADDOCK, BANGOR, WALES

I am sure, in a lot of ways, it is going to be a blur. I have gone through it without actually experiencing most of it, or taking it in. However, "We Belong Together" is my biggest song ever, something I never expected. So I am taking it in now, and it is more tangible. At the beginning of this decade, nothing seemed real.

Much has been made of your diva demands, but what is your actual rider?
PATRICK MBEKI, CAMDEN, LONDON

I have no idea. I think most of the demands on it come from the people that work for me. I honestly do not know what the rider is. Whatever it is, it needs to be changed and updated because it is from about 1901.

Does celebrity life inevitably take a toll on your health?
LUCY GOLDSMITH, VIA E-MAIL

I think it does. There are the few people who are fortunate enough to come from really good families, who have support systems for them, and then there is pretty much everyone else, who has been burnt by someone along the way. Most of us did not start out with money. I know what it is like to struggle. I have friends that I have been friends with since I was 15, so that stuff is all the same.

Does Mariah still not do stairs?
JULIE MITCHELL, VIA E-MAIL

Yeah. Right. Actually, I am the opposite. I've been stuck in elevators in Germany, in Japan and in my own apartment close to where the World Trade Center used to be, so I hate elevators. All the time I'm saying, can we not take the stairs? I'm always about stairs, even if I am wearing heels.

Your new album is about 'The Emancipation of Mimi', but who is Mimi and how is she different from Mariah?
ALI BHAT, VIA E-MAIL

She's just a nickname. My mother named me Mariah Carey because she did not want me to have a nickname; and now, here I am, with a nickname that people all over the world have started using.

You've got a seven-octave range. Does that mean you could sing bass in a barber-shop quartet?
LUCY COHEN VIA E-MAIL

If everyone else's voice was really high. The tenor would have to be a high tenor. But on no sleep, the low end of my voice is the stronger. I just sing whatever I feel like and experiment with my voice, but I think that seven octaves is an impossible thing.

Is it true that you're planning to write children's books? What will they be about?
MARINA LOIS, VIA E-MAIL

There was a book idea that was brought to me by another woman who is also biracial. She is very ambiguous looking, as am I, and we went through similar things growing up. Now she is married to an African-American and her kids are going through the same stuff. She brought an idea called Little Mariah's First Day at School, and though I loved the concept, the title needed changing. I wanted it to be more broad, and I was cautious not to jump on the bandwagon of "lets do a children's book". This is something that I think kids of mixed race could really use.

What was it like for you starting out and what advice would you give a struggling singer?
ALMA KING, STOKE-ON-TRENT

I always had an enormous amount of drive, and was very focused on what my goals were, and I love music. So my advice to anyone who wants to get into this business is really love it; it can be very difficult, but it is also an enormous blessing, an incredible gift.

After your very public divorce in 1997, would you ever want to get married again?
MARY COE VIA E-MAIL

Only if it was the absolute right situation because I have a lot of guilt about the fact that I got married and divorced. I said to myself as a child I would never get married because my parents got divorced when I was three.

Should there be more whistling solos, like yours, in pop music?
JOHN JONES, VIA E-MAIL

I am not actually whistling, I am using my throat. But I am a very good whistler. My mother taught me to sing, my father taught me to whistle.

Who is harder to work with, Whitney Houston or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony?
JAMES DARLING, VIA E-MAIL

I got along very well with Whitney. I do have a great time doing my hip-hop collaborations because it is very close to my heart.

Was your mixed-race background a disadvantage in the music industry? Have attitudes changed now?
LEILA JONES, VIA E-MAIL

I think attitudes have changed. Internally, my whole life it has been something I have struggled with. I think people have wanted to put me in some sort of a box so they can understand who I am. It is not easy for people to look at someone and think: her father's black, her mother's white, she does not look like either of them.

Where do you call home, and what's it like?
EMILY BROWN, VIA E-MAIL

Basically, it is underwater, my apartment. The water tower broke on the roof. The roof is part of my area, it was my dream to have a penthouse in Manhattan. They have been working on it now for quite some time.

With your voice, did you ever consider a career in opera?
KORI HUSSEIN, MANCHESTER

No, because I realised how much skill, technique and studying that requires. I greatly admire opera singers of talent, but I am not disciplined enough.

Who are the most important people in your life?
HENRY JOHN VIA E-MAIL

Personal friends who have been with me through everything I have gone through in my life and remained there.

How would you like to be remembered?
PRISCILLA CHORLEY, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE

I do not think I could control that. I would hope there has been some part of the contribution made musically, and that is all I can hope for.

Why do you still desire emancipation seven years and four albums after your divorce?
DAVID TAN, LONDON VIA E-MAIL

When you go through something as intense as what I went through in that relationship it requires a very long period of healing.

Mariah Carey's new single, "We Belong Together", is out now

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