MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 96: MARIAH CAREY

Success. Influence. Popularity. And to some extent happiness. Is it possible that these 4 aspects of life are more intertwined more than we think? Throughout the past 95 blogs, both Jon and myself have written about popular artists, about not-so-popular artists, about rather obscure artists (by society’s standards), as well as about artists who are no-brainers. All of these artists are who we firmly believe to be influential. But more than that- the most influential artists of all time. It’s a bold statement to declare, and I reckon that artists like Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Keith Urban, Backstreet Boys, Ed Sheeran, U2, Adele, John Farnham, Josh Groban and Carly Rae Jepsen to name a few- would be instantly included for any subjective list, on what I believe is a dynamic and ever-evolving list anyway, and is right now only a snapshot in time. While I reckon that maybe on any other day and on any other list written by any other person, artists like Richard Marx, Hanson, Leona Lewis, Jackie Evancho, Cimorelli, Five For Fighting, Colbie Caillat, The McClymonts, Hoobastank and SEAL would not make the list at all. And for me to include the shoe-ins and the obscure artists on one list… it might be head-scratching for some. And that’s ok. Because we all have different preferences, likes and dislikes- everyone’s list of influential artists is going to be different. This list is not gospel. I’ve said it once and I will say it again until I think we understand that it’s ok to have different opinions on music. It’s perfectly fine. Differences make life interesting and underpin our humanity, don’t you reckon? But coming into the final 5 blogs about influential artists- I don’t think that any of us would argue anything with these representatives. Think about it. Rihanna. Taylor Swift. Kylie Minogue. Robbie Williams. And this week’s artist- Mariah Carey. There really shouldn’t be any doubt about the calibre, impact and prowess of any of these artists- and if you all have apprehensions to any of these artists- maybe a deep immersion into these artists’ discographies will tug at your soul and at your emotions; and quite possibly change your mind.

Throughout the entirety of this blog series, Jon and myself have been writing a lot about each artist- word-wise. Though it is therapeutic somewhat for myself, and perhaps writing at length about a certain artist partly convinces myself that they are worthy of being included in a subjective list (the more ‘worthy’ artists are the ones I can write an enormous amount about!); practically and realistically, these types of word lengths… maybe do more harm than good. Chances are that the bulk of our readers are skimming these extremely long posts and thus are maybe not as invested in these artists than we actually are. Or maybe they’re skipping to the parts where they would like to read, or maybe our posts are… shudder to think, being ignored completely. I mean, it’s a hard pill to swallow, but who really wants to read a 13000-word blog post? If I were a reader, I would bypass it, no matter if the topic at hand is interesting. And such is our conundrum. We as writers sometimes go overboard because there’s so much to write about a specific artist. Making sure every interesting fact on Wikipedia is shoved into this blog in our own words, and making sure our blog has heaps of quotes from a variety of sources from a variety of years. Shoving in tons of interviews with the artist despite maybe the interview having nothing to do with what we’re trying to communicate. Writing about almost every song from every album and what the song means to the artists and what the song means to me (or Jon!); isn’t that a bit overboard and overkill? I mean, what’s the point of writing a blog that may or may not be read in the end by the world? Of course, writing a blog generally, I’d say is maybe more for myself than for the world. And that’s ok. But sometimes writing less is more, and sometimes it is the smallest blogs in length, that impact and speak to me the most.

Blogs about Michael W. Smith, Avril Lavigne, Andrew Peterson, Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Owl City, Rascal Flatts, Skillet and Lifehouse are all on the ‘short-ish’ side (compared to the past 20-odd blogs we’ve posted… and each are no less poignant and heartfelt and moving as longer blogs. Although as blogs went on, both Jon and I have somehow imprinted into our heads that longer is better. You see, last time my blog about Beyoncé clocked in over 14000 words. I mean- even I think that’s over the top (though sometimes I cannot cut down on blog length… because maybe I’m emotionally attached to the words I’ve written and laboured over?); but sometimes I read previous blogs and become amazed at the skill at which we’ve written more succinctly about artists, yet never compromising in the quality of the blogs or the essence of what we’re trying to communicate. I mean, that’s the best blogs to write about, don’t you think? Blogs that don’t say much in volume, but a lot in other ways? A blog in particular that has stood about in particular to me in the past is Jon’s blog about Bryan Adams. Around 3500 words but the blog also spanning the 30+ years Bryan has been in the music industry; this is the blog I’ve gone back to time and time again whenever I’ve probably naïvely tried to write more succinct blogs. Disclaimer: it hasn’t worked yet. Regardless, if Jon can write about an artist with great longevity in such a concise way… anything is possible, isn’t it?

And thus, let me say that it is my absolute intention that the next 5 blogs will be of adequate length (between 5000 and 10000), and not dragging on so much (considering these five artists’ discographies). Not that I reckon other blogs felt long, and if you had immersed yourself in the blog from the start, you probably would have been hooked. But the fact is that they were long, so… better late than never in cutting down on length, am I right? If you’ve come to this blog expecting a thesis of Mariah Carey and everything about her… well there’s Wikipedia for that where you can peruse for your heart’s content. What this blog will do instead of being a travel-log type of piece (which, to be fair- a number of blogs we posted throughout the years were!), we’d go back to how blogs were written in the beginning. A quick snapshot of Mariah’s achievements, then dive deep into a few of Mariah’s hits. I mean, do we need to read pages upon pages of what we already know- that Mariah is influential because of her song-writing ability and her voice? And so, before we dive deep into the heart of this shortened blog, about a number of songs which spoke to me and I’m sure impacted and moved everyone; why don’t we see about these ‘supposed facts’ that I would’ve previously harped on about for 3-4 paragraphs?

Known for her ‘five-octave vocal range’, her melismatic singing style, as well as her signature ‘whistle register’, Mariah, known as the Queen of Christmas and the Songbird Supreme, was the first artist to have her first five singles reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, from “Vision of Love” to “Emotions”. Billboard named her the Artist of the Decade in the 1990s, while the World Music Awards honoured her as the Best Selling Female Pop Artist of the Millennium. With sales of over 200 million records worldwide, Mariah is also one of the best-selling music artists of all time- nineteen of Mariah’s songs have topped the Billboard Hot 100, and she holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist, a female songwriter, and a female producer. Mariah has also won five Grammy Awards, nineteen World Music Awards, ten American Music Awards, and fifteen Billboard Music Awards; while “Hero” became Mariah’s eighth chart-topper in the United States and has been recognized as her signature song. The album Music Box from 1993, remains Mariah’s best-seller and one of the best-selling albums of all time, with worldwide sales of over 28 million copies; while Merry Christmas, released in 1994, became the best-selling Christmas album of all time (still is!), with global sales of over 15 million copies. The lead single, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, became a holiday standard and continues to surge in popularity each holiday season, covered by many artists, ranging from Justin Bieber, Newsboys, and Marc Martel to Fifth Harmony, and Michael Buble. While other albums like Daydream, Butterfly and Caution remained Mariah’s crowning achievements in terms of albums (according to the critics!), other albums received mixed reviews, with Glitter being panned amongst critics. There’s no denying the staying power that Mariah Carey has had on the music industry at large from her first album until now- if you want to read more in depth about Mariah’s music and her impact, then Wikipedia is the place for you- and I will write a bit more later on, about Mariah’s legacy, her image, her endorsements, her philanthropy as well as about her controversies and why we as a people need to look past the drama. But you know how essentially you need to have good songs and thought-provoking themes and melodies in order to even be considered as influential and impacting as an artist? What does Mariah Carey have as songs to wow us, to make us say ‘oh, well she is a shoe-in for being an influential artist’? Well for one- can we say “All I Want For Christmas Is You”?

It was from my little girl’s spirit and those early fantasies of family, and friendship, that I wrote ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’. Think of how it begins: ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding … the delicate chimes are reminiscent of those little wooden toy pianos, like the one Schroeder had on Peanuts. I actually did bang out most of the song on a cheap little Casio keyboard. But it’s the feeling I wanted the song to capture. There’s a sweetness, a clarity, and a purity to it. It didn’t stem from Christian inspiration, although I’ve certainly sung and written from that soulful and spiritual perspective. Instead, this song came from a childlike space; when I wrote it, at 22 years old, I wasn’t that far away from being a child.

It was such a high point for me, career-wise, because of how much I love Christmas, and that’s partially because I’ve always loved it that much. But I’ve had to go through the obstacles of my difficult, to say the least, childhood and starting out in this business so young and not really ever having that unified family or those type of holidays that I always felt like you see on the TV. So having No. 1 in 2019 with “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was a moment where I just sat there by myself at 3 in the morning looking at the Christmas tree lights and just really taking it in on a human level, because you work your whole life for something.

And … it’s so exciting because it’s at Christmas, which is my favorite, but it’s also like, what a validating thing to have happen. I never knew people were going to adapt the song that I wrote — my first Christmas song that I ever wrote. How did I know that that was going to become a thing every year? I couldn’t have known it. And I’ve grown to love it more, because I used to always listen through it and pick it apart at Christmas against all the other Christmas songs, like, “Why didn’t I change this part? I wish I could’ve done that over.” Because I did it so early on, so young. But still, it makes me happy every year.

Hold on, wait a minute? Am I really diving deep into Mariah Carey by speaking in depth about her Christmas album first? Not even Music Box? Well… this isn’t really any normal Christmas album, not by any means. What I originally thought was a pop holiday album is anything but; as I am pleasantly surprised at the gospel and worship influence here. Mariah’s voice is crazily good, and if you have not heard this album yet… then you absolutely need to! Right now! Doesn’t matter that it’s not Christmas yet, because Merry Christmas is an album where we can celebrate the birth of Jesus at all times of the year! A pure pop/soul/gospel Christmas album at its most vulnerable, honest and emotional; Mariah Carey owns the holiday season in terms of Christmas music sales (in my opinion), with this near-perfect and absolutely flawless holiday album featuring plenty of powerful and compelling God-moments and impressive vocals that even now we probably can’t even fathom… in a crazy good way! Need I go on?

Because “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is so iconic… that’s a reason why we should even buy this album straight away. Yes, you heard me right. We should visit the JB Hi-Fi or Walmart website and buy this album right away. And also because Mariah’s out-of-this-world voice in her prime, as evident on “O Holy Night”, “Joy To The World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”, is matchless, even when compared to many amazing vocalists today! And also, in my humble opinion, “Jesus Born On This Day” and “Jesus What A Wonderful Child” are probably a couple of the most inspiring and meaningful Christmas songs ever (original or carols)! If only these reasons are all; then these are reasons enough to buy this masterpiece and work of art! The fact that there are 29 songs on the 2019 deluxe edition, is also profound and remarkable, as this means that the staying power of this 25-year-old album is quite high, and deserves attention. Also, if you even think about skipping this album completely…. nah, nah, nah, nobody is skipping this album! Not on my watch! With Mariah being the daughter of a preacher, Mariah knows how to take us to church and to sing at the top of her voice. She does this and more on this powerful, inspiring album, that yes, is a Christmas album, but is also so, so hopeful and just happy, that we can’t help but listen to it all year round! Yes, Mariah does have heart here. She may have had controversy of late (with regards to the lip synching debacle five or so years ago), but there’s no denying that when Merry Christmas released, Mariah was on fire, and she was what any vocalist would strive to be like. Yes, indeed, she has heart, and then some more!

Merry Christmas has a gospel/worship feel with choirs on every track. There are other albums (like many from Michael W. Smith, and others from Peter Hollens and Josh Groban) which feel more Christmas-y; but this doesn’t mean that this album is inferior- in fact it’s one of the best Christmas albums holistically! Though the album isn’t sonically that unique, it is though like your typical worship/gospel album with a few carols added in for variety. But it is really Mariah’s vocals that make this album iconic, timeless, a classic, and any other positive adjective you could think of! Mariah preaches the Word of God and shares the gospel quite overtly here and with great passion and enthusiasm- which is bold for an artist in the mainstream to do. Although it’s quite common for mainstream artists to sing about Jesus during Christmas, Mariah on this album sounds vulnerable, authentic and real when singing about Jesus. This may or may not be indicative of her faith right now (and her faith right now is anyone’s guess!), but what matters is that when you listen to Merry Christmas from Mariah, you’ll be feeding your soul and drawing closer to our Father, Friend and Saviour! An epically awesome Christmas album; Merry Christmas is a still epically awesome album even if you listen at other times of the year… no matter which way you slice it. You may not be a Mariah fan, but it’s hard not to love this project. At least one listen is required during Christmas time, and if you’re still like The Grinch or Scrooge… then listen to the album again and again and again until you’re smiling and laughing, rejoicing and shouting out the praises of our Almighty!

Personally, I reckon the standouts to this album are “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “Jesus Born On This Day”, and “Jesus Oh What A Wonderful Child”. Though I had it in my head that this album would only be ‘ok’, considering that I hadn’t heard it until recently (shame on me!) and I thought the Mariah’s professionalism on this album would be similar to how she acted when she was lip syncing; it actually turns out that this project is God-breathed and Holy Spirit anointed, and I was indeed blown away in the best way possible. Thus it is in my opinion, that Merry Christmas is a must listen and a must buy, for no other reason than that you’ll be blessed and touched and inspired and drawn closer to Jesus!

Did I really just ramble on and on and on about Mariah’s first Christmas album for 3 paragraphs, literally just after I just wrote about my intentions of keeping this blog relatively shorter that previous blogs? Yes, yes, I did. This is because I believe that this Christmas album is one of the best of all time, and for that album I can indeed write about it for a long time and make an exception. And when you listen to Merry Christmas (and you all undoubtedly should if you haven’t!), you’d be in awe and be amazed as well, at Mariah’s prowess as a singer and her passion. Yet Mariah’s impact travels further than Christmas albums. “All I Want For Christmas” is a powerful and touching song, but Mariah’s influence is more than that song. And from first glance through the singles discography, the track that stands out to me is “Hero”. An inspirational, piano led ballad, that is super emotional, heartfelt, and delivering all of the feelings to all and any who listen; I think this was the first song I actually heard from Mariah. Not the larger-than-life Christmas hit that we’ve all come to know and love, but this melody. I’m not sure what year I heard this song, but it’s one of the biggest songs from the 1993 album Music Box. Lyrically and thematically, the piano power ballad speaks about identity and self-worth, and the realisation that it is our inner strength and the power inside of us that we can rely on when times are tough, and that we can trust to see us through any adversity. It’s kind of a self-help song, which goes against what is taught in the Bible (that it isn’t in our own strength that we can overcome, but with God’s strength alone!), however, for a song that provides comfort, healing, and also provides raw emotion so that we can feel alongside Mariah and actually actively try to make a difference in our own lives instead of waiting around for a ‘hero’ from outside to come and save us; “Hero” ticks all of the right boxes. And for a mainstream track that undoubtedly we shouldn’t expect to carry any Christian symbolism… I’d say “Hero” is one of the most compelling, inspiring, emotional and powerful ballads of the 90’s period. And the story behind this song is actually quite remarkable. It wasn’t written by Mariah, and was intended originally for Gloria Estefan. According to producer Walter Afanasieff: It was never meant for Mariah to sing. In her mind, we were writing a song for Gloria Estefan for this movie [Hero], and we went into an area that Mariah didn’t really go into – in her words, it was a little bit too schmaltzy or too pop ballady or too old-fashioned as far as melody and lyrics. But before the song was handed over to Gloria, the CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Tommy Mottola (Mariah’s then-fiancé) suggested that Mariah record the song herself. And sure enough though, Mariah came around and came to love that song and what it represented lyrically and thematically: I was like, you know, it’s not necessarily what I like per se, but after doing the song over and over again [people came up to me] saying, thank you for writing ‘Hero’ because it saved my life or it saved my father’s life or my brother’s or sister’s life, or something of that nature. I said I always have to sing that song when I’m performing because if I don’t, you never know who I’m leaving out and you know what, in times of my life I’ve had to turn to that song lyrically and flip it onto my own life and sing it to myself. It’s usually the last song I do if I do it, and everybody’s holding up their lighters or their phones and I get a little bit emotional. I’m like, ‘How many times have I done this song?’ But there’s always a specific person out there that has a specific memory associated with the song and I wrote it, so it makes me proud. Had it not been for “Hero” though… could Mariah’s career been vastly different? Maybe, maybe. Thankfully we’re blessed to hear Mariah’s music over the years… and boy is it inspiring, thought-provoking, comforting and confronting at the same time!

Aside from “Hero”, Mariah’s songs have inspired many, and have touched our emotions and soul many times over- especially her songs recorded in the 90’s. Mariah’s debut single in 1990 was “Vision Of Love” was the song that essentially started off the melisma trend (of singing a single syllable of lyrics across several notes or bars) for Mariah’s contemporaries, with the song being a massive hit for Mariah at the time; while lyrically Mariah gives thanks to God for putting her dream of becoming a singer in her heart, and also thanking God for making the dream happen. With Mariah eloquently and earnestly reminding us that though she’s had struggled throughout childhood, she has had God to rely upon and God to thank for being able to live out her dream; we are presented with a resounding phenomenon and a track that to me is one of her very bests. A song that immediately touches my soul and inspires me to thank God more and more for His blessings; Mariah also brings home the power and the authenticity with “Emotions”, the lead single from Emotions in 1991. A pop/R&B melody about Mariah feeling ‘emotions’, and feelings for a guy who makes her feel in love and feel alive; the song highlights the importance of how one person can affect our viewpoint on life and our identity. Whether this is a positive or a negative way that an intense love like that can impact us is up to interpretation, but there’s no doubt about the fact that this pop melody was one of the songs that kickstarted Mariah’s career. While lyrically somewhat shallow… is it really as shallow as other hits of today, like “Peaches” (Justin Bieber) and “Bad Habits” (Ed Sheeran)? “Dreamlover”, another hit of Mariah’s, this time from Music Box, is a laid back piano led underlying R&B melody, that has Mariah essentially asking for a ‘dreamlover’ to come and take her away on a magical place, to make her feel special and loved. And as Mariah fervently and emotionally sings out to her ‘unseen’ lover: ‘…dreamlover, come rescue me, take me up, take me down, take me anywhere you want to, baby, now, I need you so desperately, won’t you please come around? ’cause I wanna share forever with you, baby…’; we are encouraged to have that solidity and that security in our relationships, so that we don’t need to look anywhere else outside of our relationships for validation and love.

Travelling along the same vein of relationships, Mariah disses an ex in “Someday”, telling him in no uncertain terms that men can’t disrespect or neglect women, otherwise they run the risk of women someday leaving and never coming back; while the captivating and stirring piano ballad “I Don’t Wanna Cry” compellingly and exquisitely reminds us about how we shouldn’t be crying over the end of a relationship, because there is so much good aspects of something that has ended- with the greatest of these being that you yourself as a person as grown. And as Mariah passionately reiterates that ‘…I don’t wanna cry, don’t wanna cry, nothing in the world could take us back to where we used to be, though I’ve given you my heart and soul, I must find a way of letting go, ’cause baby, I don’t wanna cry…’, we are definitely moved and inspired- with Mariah longing to move past her sadness and to figure out the best things to have arisen from the relationship. If we continue to wallow in self-pity, we cannot find the beauty amongst the ashes- and that is what Mariah is in effect saying that is always there. There is always a silver lining to every situation, and sometimes rising above your emotions allows you to see slightly more clearly. “Without You”, one of the most popular singles from Badfinger, is also covered by Mariah, and speaks about the yearning and desire for someone to such a great extent that you can’t literally live without them- that kind of gut-wrenching and soul-crushing feeling; while “One Sweet Day” is sung beautifully and together in harmony with Boyz II Men. A track that is soothing and emotional to listen to, and in fact therapeutic for the soul, Mariah and the R&B group deliver this melody with true professionalism, and speak about someone who has died and wanting to see them again in heaven someday. A track that gets us dwelling upon and thinking about our mortality and spiritual matters, the song was inspired by the death of someone close to Mariah, and according to Mariah herself, this is still one of the most personal songs she has ever recorded: I wrote the initial idea for ‘One Sweet Day’ with Walter (Afanasieff), and I had the chorus…and I stopped and said, ‘I really wanna do this with Boyz II Men,’ because…obviously I’m a big fan of theirs and I just thought that the work was crying out for them, the vocals that they do, so I put it away and said, ‘Who knows if this could ever happen, but I just don’t wanna finish this song because I want it to be our song if we ever do it together. [The] whole idea of when you lose people that are close to you, it changes your life and changes your perspective. When they came into the studio, I played them the idea for the song and when [it] was finished, they looked at each other, a bit stunned, and told me that Nat (Nathan Morris) had written a song for his road manager who had passed away. It had basically the same lyrics and fitted over the same chord changes. It was really, really weird, we finished the song right then and there. We were all kinda flipped about it ourselves. Fate had a lot to do with that. I know some people won’t believe it, but we wouldn’t make up such a crazy story.

“Fantasy”, from Mariah’s album Daydream in 1995, is a sweet, sultry and impactful ballad that essentially is about Mariah’s infatuation for her unrequited lover (a situation that some of us may find ourselves in- ‘loving’ someone from afar!), and the song inspires us to actually take that step in faith and do something about our crush; while “Always Be My Baby” takes the level of infatuation and love to another level- a stalker-ish obsession kind of level. A track that is similar in theme to The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, Mariah relays that even when she and her ex are broken up, ‘…you’ll always be a part of me, I’m part of you indefinitely, boy, don’t you know you can’t escape me? Ooh, darling, ’cause you’ll always be my baby…’; and we can indeed tell that this song is not sweet at all- it’s downright creepy, and encourages us all to run away from people that are incredibly intense and clingy. “Forever”, a track which was a single but failed to chart in any way, is another over-the-top track about loving an ex forever… and it just seems wrong and icky that Mariah herself is declaring that ‘…if you should ever need me, unfailingly I will return to your arms and unburden your heart, and if you should remember that we belong together, never be ashamed…’ (one more stalker song too many?); while the sweetness returns with “Never Forget You”. A piano led track where Mariah speaks about looking upon a past relationship (because someone died?) with fondness and happiness, that ‘…I’ll never forget you, I’ll never let you out of my heart, you will always be here with me, I’ll hold on to the memories, baby…’, reminds us to hold onto the ones we love while they are still alive and while people are still coherent and of sound mind; while “Love Takes Time” speaks about how healing from a broken heart takes time, and hence falling in love after having your heart broken will take some time as well.

One of the most comforting and impacting Mariah Carey songs to me (if we’re talking about tracks from the 90’s) is the inspirational and powerful piano ballad “Anytime You Need A Friend”. A melody where Mariah sings to perfection and showcases her exquisite vocals, the gospel-infused uplifter draws on Mariah’s faith in God, and is sung from God’s perspective, as we are presented the truth that ‘…anytime you need a friend, I will be here, never be alone again, so don’t you fear, even if you’re miles away, I’m by your side, so don’t you ever be lonely, love will make it alright…’. Sung in response to Mariah’s deteriorating first marriage and subsequent divorce, Mariah herself has mentioned that this song was borne out of desperation: Among all of my songs that one was especially significant, because I was desperately alone, removed from friends and full of fear. My belief in God kept me alive – I wrote that song thinking about what I thought God would say to us in times of fear. While a happier themed song from Mariah is “Till The End Of Time” from Emotions. A track that wasn’t a single but to me was one of her career highlights, the 5-minute piano ballad declares that Mariah loves a special person until the end of time (which can either be read as sweet and endearing or obsessive and downright creepy); while the R&B flavoured “Honey”, from the 1997 album Butterfly, is a song of pure infatuation towards a lover, with Mariah at this point moving more-so into the R&B genre. With the song having received a bit of criticism for Mariah being a tad more sensual in the video, she hit back at critics by letting us know that the side we see in the music video is essentially who she is: People felt like my image changed because suddenly I could do what I wanted to. But ‘Honey’ is quite tame compared to some of the videos that are out now by quote/unquote Pop artists. Yes, I do strip down and all that stuff, but I’m not like stripping. There’s a bikini. To me, it’s all very playful and done in fun. It was totally up my alley because who else is going to swim with Gucci stilettos on? That’s very me. For the first time, I got the chance to have fun making a video and be myself. Like the running on the beach with the dog? That’s me. When you don’t see me on TV, that’s what I’m doing.

“Butterfly”, another one of Mariah’s ground-breaking singles from the late 90’s, speaks about Mariah’s divorce with Tommy Mottola- this song is one that Mariah hoped he’d sing for her when she had hope they’d reconcile. But with the possibility of that happening dwindling more and more, this song reminds us that true love for someone is allowing them to make their own decisions. Love isn’t controlling, and love is putting the other person’s needs above yourself- and this serene and calm piano led melody is sure to provide us comfort and healing and peace, with Mariah encouraging us to fly like a butterfly and return to our relationships if they are right for us in the moment. “Fly Away” from Butterfly also encourages us to ‘see the world’ and ‘discover yourself’ before you decide whether someone is right for you- and although I don’t personally agree with that sentiment, it’s great that Mariah is being consistent and encouraging us to see the world when we are young as opposed to doing so and abandoning your spouse and children. With “The Roof” and “My All” from Butterfly being about Mariah’s relationship with the Derek Jeter while still married to Tommy; it’s clear that Mariah wasn’t happy and needed a physical release from what she felt was a trapped and abusive marriage. Though Mariah and Derek both were making poor decisions in the heat of the moment; Butterfly the album reminds us that we can only be free and live life to the fullest if we ourselves are happy. If we aren’t, an examination of the root cause needs to eb undertaken, otherwise we end up betraying people we love in our lives, and end up doing stupid stuff that we’d never do in a million years.

Authenticity and vulnerability are both key to believing what the artist is singing about, and Mariah has that believability and down-to-earth nature in spades. “Make It Happen” is an inspirational R&B/pop melody whereby Mariah encourages us to talk to Jesus for Him to make things happen, that ‘…if you believe in yourself enough, and know what you want, you’re gonna make it happen, make it happen, and if you get down on your knees at night and pray to the Lord, He’s gonna make it happen, make it happen…’; while “Can’t Let Go” speaks about the trouble we all have when we want to move from an ex who has captured our hearts and our emotions; Mariah is singing about the tension of living in the moment of loving someone who doesn’t love you back, or trying to move on, and this signifies the reality of messy feelings. “Open Arms”, a Journey cover, speaks about the desire to be honest and vulnerable with your partner during a dysfunctional moment in the relationship, at a time which may or may not be too late; while the poignant, heart-warming and soothing “Underneath The Stars” delves deep into a summer affair which by and large isn’t the healthiest thing to undertake. Yet the track does serve a purpose and reminds us that we all should take care of ourselves emotionally, spiritually and physically, before things get to the stage in the song- imagining you are with someone else other than your partner. It’s a warning-type song, and Mariah should be commended for subtly inspiring us to fix our own lives instead of daydreaming about a fantasy. Although with “Breakdown” being the description of Mariah’s relationship going wrong; we can see the effects of what imagining being with someone else can do- however with Mariah imparting wisdom to us and then not following on that wisdom herself, this shouldn’t mean that we condemn her, but rather we acknowledge that she has stumbled, and that she is human, just like the rest of us.

If any of you thought that Mariah was only ‘big’ in the 90’s and then faded away, the rest of her impacting and powerful discography in the late 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s begs to differ. While the world was preparing for the Y2K bug in 1999… I’m sure Mariah Carey was too; but she was still impressing us with music, and music that inspires, gives us food for thought, and music that is fit for our soul. “Against The Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” is a Phil Collins cover, and was recorded with Irish boy-band Westlife, and speaks about tying your own identity solely onto another person (in this case, a partner who is now an ex). With the song also dealing with how one copes with the loss of another that they’ve based their entire identity on, the track subtly mentions mental illness and depression and not wanting to go on living in this life… in essence this is a song about suicide. But Mariah inspires us in this melody by putting the issue head on at the forefront, so that this song can be the catalyst for dealing with our demons, and admitting to our loved ones that we need help. “Thank God I Found You”, with Joe and 98 Degrees, is a typical boy-band-ish melody whereby the two vocalists (and one group) earnestly relay to us a song of thanks to God for bringing their significant other into their life (similar in theme to NSYNC’s “(God Must’ve Spent) A Little More Time On You”); while “Heartbreaker” features Jay-Z, and speaks about a guy that broke Mariah’s heart, with the track being loosely based on Mariah’s divorce from Tommy. A R&B/pop song that is a lot of fun, that feels current and fresh; Mariah herself reminds us that “…It was from the standpoint of girls that keep going back to that same guy and they can’t help themselves. They know they are going to continually get hurt, and the situation won’t change or improve for them as long as they continue with the guy. I’ve been one of those girls, so I know there’s a lot of them out there, and they need to gather strength and move on and past it. It’s fun when you can find someone that you can relate to and that you respect. Jay-Z is someone I admire as a writer and as an artist. We could be sitting in the studio, and he can freestyle a rhyme that would be incredible just off the top of his head. He doesn’t need a pen and paper. I equate that to a singer who can pick up the mike and riff and ad-lib over a song and take you to a totally new place…”.

“Crybaby” features Snoop Dogg, and though I’m not a fan of the rapper at all, his raps and ad-libs work well here, as Mariah paints a picture of a person who is plagued by their demons and a past ex, culminating in them not being able to sleep. The song reminds us that we cannot hold onto the past so much that it affects our health; and Mariah inspires us to actually talk with our friends and family about whatever that ails us. “Can’t Take That Away”, inspired by the Columbine High School massacre and co-written with Diane Warren, brings the focus sonically and thematically from R&B tracks about relationships back to big booming ballads with an inspirational message. With Mariah imparting to us that we all shouldn’t allow negative comments to affect our outlook; she also reminds us that rather we should know that we have something innate inside of us (Jesus’ presence) that allows us to stand tall and feel good and worthy about ourselves. “How Much”, with Usher and Jermaine Dupri, speaks about the persona being in an intense relationship and reminding the other person just how much they love them, and the track also reminds us that someday we will find someone who will give us that exact same intense feeling; while “Rainbow” and “Vulnerability”, as interludes on Rainbow, remind us that Mariah is longing for some peace and a feeling that lasts beyond the temporary, and into the everlasting and eternal.

Both Glitter (2001) and Charmbracelet (2002) were commercial failures for Mariah, with the former being universally panned and the latter being moderately successful but critics criticising Mariah’s somewhat ‘pitchy’ vocals. Glitter (the film) starred Mariah Carey in a lead role, and though I haven’t seen the film, the critical response as per Wikipedia, was all I needed to know. The film released on September 11th 2001… so it was dead, and then of course no one would’ve wanted to listen to the accompanying soundtrack anyway. I could write about some of the songs… but what good would that do, for a release that virtually no one liked. You can read about Glitter on Wikipedia with all of its controversies; but for me there are some bright spots in Charmbracelet. “Through The Rain”, written in response to Mariah’s dad passing away, was inspired by Mariah’s parents facing prejudice over an interracial marriage, and reminds us that we can make it through any adversity with friends and family by our side, that ‘…every time I feel afraid, I hold tighter to my faith, and I live one more day, and I make it through the rain…’; while “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” is a laid back cover of Def Leppard’s 1981 hit. “Boy (I Need You)”, with a super crazy and weird music video, has Mariah letting us know that she is in love with her partner, and highlights the fact that this feeling is intense and for real; while “The One” further relays to us that Mariah firmly believe she’s found ‘the one’. The gospel/worshipful infused “My Saving Grace” indirectly references God as being Mariah’s hope and refuge and shelter, that Jesus is ‘…giving me peace, giving me strength when I’d almost lost it all, catching my every fall, I still exist because you kept me safe, I found my saving grace within you…’; and “Lullaby” references “The Roof”, with Mariah once again singing about a previous affair, letting us know that she still thinks about that ‘special’ time. Charmbracelet may have had its critics, but I reckon it’s a solid record… although not as impacting and powerful as some of the previous albums from the 90’s.

After the headache of Glitter and the mediocrity of Charmbracelet; what’s a pop/R&B superstar to do? That’s right- Mariah unveils a killer album and returns back to her brilliant best. Commercially, The Emancipation of Mimi isn’t as high as Butterfly, Music Box or Daydream, however it still reminds us of a return to form and the realisation that form may be temporary but class is permanent. “It’s Like That” is a fun party song that speaks about owning who you are with self-confidence and belief in yourself, that For the first time in my life, I feel free and unashamed to be who I really am. I am celebrating that I’ve grown into a person and artist who no longer feels imprisoned by my insecurities … I can now honestly say, ‘This is me, the real me, take it or leave it’; while “We Belong Together” is a slow-tempo R&B infused ballad whereby Mariah laments on a past love, and sings about how she still loves the person. Mariah has sung about lost love and heartbreak many times in her career, but this song just hits your right in the gut, with the raw honesty and emotions permeating through; while “Shake It Off” (no, not that Taylor Swift song!), is the complete opposite to “We Belong Together” in theme- Mariah lets us know that she’s ready to shake off her toxic relationships with her ex and others who disrespect her, and inspires us all to rid ourselves of toxic people as well.

“Get Your Number”, with Jermaine Dupri, has Justin Timberlake vibes and is a smooth R&B track about waiting to be laid by someone at the club (a really superficial song), and features Mariah’s playful side; while “Don’t Forget About Us”, as lyrically vague as it is, speaks about looking upon a past relationship with fondness, and has Mariah praising what once was: I try not to get too specific so that people can apply the lyrics to their own lives. When I was growing up and listening to the radio and I would hear a song that reminded me of a certain person or a situation or whatever, I would want to be able to completely connect it to that moment. And then if I heard someone explaining it and making it into something totally different, it ruined it for me. So I kind of like to keep it open for people’s imaginations. It evokes something different depending on who listens to it and at what time. ‘Don’t Forget About Us’ could give you a good, happy memory, or you could be miserable, crying, listening to it over and over. All in all, I think it’s good to have music you can live vicariously through, and that’s what a lot of people have told me this record has been for them. “Fly Like A Bird”, another worshipful/gospel song that Mariah has recorded in her career (like “Anytime You Need A Friend”, “My Saving Grace” and “Make It Happen”), speaks about asking God to ‘…carry me high, don’t let the world break me tonight, I need the strength of you by my side, sometimes this life can be so cold, I pray you’ll come and carry me home…’; while “Say Somethin’” features Snoop Dogg and wasn’t popular commercially, with Mariah and Snoop having a dialogue about pick-up lines and how best to get the other in bed. And with that, let me say that I can really see how the track didn’t resonate with listeners…

In science, E=MC2 refers to a relationship between mass and energy that differs by a constant and the unit of measurement. It’s a lot complicated than that… but for Mariah Carey, that scientific phrase refers to her album E=MC2, which is thematically similar to The Emancipation Of Mimi and is one of the more personal albums Mariah has ever recorded. “Touch My Body”, the lead single, is a silly, nonsensical, superficial melody about physical intimacy, that showcases Mariah’s goofiness and less-serious side; while “Bye Bye” brings down the tempo quite a bit, and eloquently speaks about the loss of Mariah’s own father in 2002 and how hard it was to say goodbye to him. Mariah reminds us all to cherish our own relationships with our family, as we never fully know how long we all have left on this earth; while Mariah also speaks about the importance of such relatable songs like “Bye Bye”: Sometimes when I’m writing a song like ‘Bye Bye,’ it does come from such a raw place that I’m like, I’m actually crying while writing it, or thinking about it. But sometimes I will hear it and go ‘I feel like this is gonna touch a lot of people.’ And that’s why it’s important, that no matter what’s ever happened to me throughout my career, that I stay the course and continue to write and try and reach people who need it, because I know that I’m one of those people. When someone does that and they write something that touches me, I’m like indebted to them forever.

“I’ll Be Loving U Long Time”, a summer-y Caribbean style track, is a fun, carefree tune about loving someone so deep that you’ll be ‘loving u long time’; while the heartbreaking piano ballad “I Stay In Love” speaks about the situation that many women find themselves in- staying in love with people and staying in relationships that are unhealthy and toxic to them- this song is a warning-type melody and hopefully will be a catalyst for women to rise up and reclaim their identity apart from the abusive relationships they are in. The danceable R&B melody “Migrate”, which speaks about moving from one area of life to another, and always having your ‘people’ (your family, friends) on speed-dial in case you need them, features rapper T-Pain. On the surface, it’s a superfluous song, but a deeper listen reveals a song that speaks about the importance of camaraderie and friendship; while “Love Story” documents Mariah’s relationship with second husband Nick Cannon- as a true romance and love story for the ages. The song I guess doesn’t hold a candle to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, but it is soothing and sweet (and maybe a tad icky considering Nick and Mariah are divorced now!); while Mariah once again impresses on “I’m That Chick”. A slower-paced ballad about female empowerment and rising above adversities, this is a song for the women and a song that women can declare at the top of their lungs; while “I Wish You Well” is directed to Mariah’s ex, as she shows kindness to him and quotes Bible verses to him to let him know that she holds no ill will and that she has forgiven him.

For someone who has had a career for so long, you’d probably think that an artist like Mariah would taper off at some point in her career. Well… if that is true, then Mariah hasn’t reached her peak yet, as her last few albums showcase her most honest, vulnerable, inspiring and moving material yet! “I Want To Know What Love Is”, a pop version of the iconic 6 minute ballad from Foreigner, is only 3 and a half minutes, and omits the second verse. But to me this rendition is a simply near-flawless version of such a timeless classic, and it helps that the original band approve of the cover: I think she’s actually retained the integrity of the song. You know, the arrangement is very similar to the original. They haven’t tampered with the song too much. She’s captured a certain emotional thing, a feeling. And you know, it’s always flattering to have people cover your songs. Well, sometimes not so flattering (laughs) depending on who it is. But I think she’s put a lot of emotion into it. You can feel that she’s gotten inside of the song; while “H.A.T.E.U.” deals with a break-up and betrayal from an ex. It’s a hauntingly beautifully sung ballad that brilliantly shows off Mariah’s exquisite vocals; while “Angels Cry” is another standout from Mariah, and features Ne-Yo on guest vocals. As Mariah and Ne-Yo lament a break-up, the inference is that the angels themselves cry about the end of the relationship; and this imagery signifies how intense the love for each other is that the two people feel, but also how much they know they should break up because they know they’re no good for each other. “#Beautiful”, a sultry, sensual R&B pop jam with Miguel, has Mariah and Miguel praising each other for their beauty, and a track that further distances Mariah from her ballad roots; while the heartbreaking piano ballad “GTFO” is a song that essentially is directed to Mariah’s ex Nick Cannon to leave her in no uncertain terms. This song is a far contrast to “Love Story” (about Nick and Mariah as well), and so this juxtaposition reminds us that men ought to treat their spouses with dignity, grace, love, and respect… else you’d be the subject of a song similar to this one.

As much as I love a good R&B/pop jam, it is Mariah’s ballads that are her ‘signature genre’, and that is confirmed and reaffirmed on the poignant and moving “With You”, as Mariah describes a love that is messy, imperfect and raw, but a real love nonetheless; while the piano prominent R&B infused ballad “The Art Of Letting Go” speaks about Mariah ridding herself of an ex, and singing about the process of letting go and that it is hard: I don’t think I’ve mastered the art of letting of go. I think the art of letting go is something that will probably take most people a lifetime to master, so the song can be interpreted however [fans like]. It’s one of those things where people are gonna have to feel the song, if they feel it…then they’re really gonna feel it in their heart. This is such a personal record to me. I wrote the lyrics so that anyone and everyone could relate to them and hopefully release anything that they need to let go of that’s holding them back or bringing them down. The somewhat obsessive, intense and somewhat psychotic “You’re Mine (Eternal)” is a piano led ballad about the persona not able to move on and wanting to hang on possessively to their ex; while “Obsessed” delves deep into the realities that some people are obsessed with their celebrity idols to the extent of building a shrine and worshipping them.

This track and “You’re Mine” both tackle the pitfalls of internet fame, and remind ourselves that we all shouldn’t put people on pedestals, otherwise we’d be incredibly disappointed when they fail and fall; and hence Mariah needs to be commended here as the uncomfortable topic is addressed. With “Up Out My Face”, with Nicki Minaj, being a low-key savage diss to Eminem and the fact that he has been harassing Mariah for a while; the topic of stalkers and obsession is heightened in this track; and we are further posed the question of who do we perceive as role models, and are we going to break when our idols fall. “A No No”, a savage diss to Mariah’s ex-manager who she says has made outrageous claims against her, is a track that is groovy and is extremely danceable- but also reminding us that sometimes it’s better to cut someone off if they’re spreading lies; while “The Distance” is a intense recount with Ty Dolla $ign about having love and a relationship while in the public eye, and calling out the haters, reminding us that love can go the distance if it is the right kind of love.

Even if you’re not a fan of Mariah Carey (which… perhaps you may not be, maybe because of her melisma), there’s still undoubtedly songs that aren’t from any particular album- and these songs are so iconic and moving that you probably can’t help but know of them. And not just know of them… but I’m sure you’ll love these songs too. You can check out Mariah’s collaborations and rare stand-alone content in her discography page (because, there are quite a plenty!), but as I run through a few in detail, can we just appreciate that Mariah is still here and isn’t going away any time soon? “Infinity”, from Mariah’s 2015 greatest hits album, is a sassy post-break-up song that speaks about loving yourself and treating yourself right before any other individual; while “The Star” sung effortlessly and fervently by Mariah, is a piano led hopeful and honest ballad, and is perfect as the opener, as Mariah prayerfully reiterates to us that we can and should ‘…follow that star above you, should the world try to break you down, there is One who waits for you, though you can’t see Him now, thunder and rain surrounds you, but His love’s just a breath away, if you follow your heart, follow the light…’, acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the shining light and the star in our lives, guiding us every step of the way even in the times where we feel lost, hopeless and alone. In this track alone though, there’s no denying her voice is still as good as ever in the studio, and “The Star” is testament to this fact that God can still use someone whom the world currently sees as not relevant, and speak life through them. “I Still Believe”, from Mariah’ s first greatest hits album in 1998, delves into the belief in an everlasting love between two people and a bond that could never, ever break; while “Whenever You Call” features Brian McKnight, and is a beautifully sung pure love song in which both parties pledge their love and devotion to each other (the way wedding vows should be like!). “Oh Santa” (with Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson), All I Want For Christmas Is You (with Justin Bieber) and “When Christmas Comes” (with John Legend) are empathic and moving original Christmas songs sung with vibrant and powerful collaborators; and “Almost Home” is sung for the movie Oz: The Great And Powerful, and is an energetic power ballad about believing in yourself and finding your place in this world. “I’ll Be There”, a moving rendition of The Jackson Five inspirational melody, is in my mind a worthy and compelling cover by Mariah; but if there’s one song from Mariah to listen to, I’d say it absolutely has to be “When You Believe”, with Whitney Houston.

A song that was first known to me from the movie The Prince Of Egypt (an animated story of Moses in Exodus about how he delivered the Israelites from Egypt from the Pharoah), Mariah and Whitney’s version is powerful, exquisite, out-of-this-world and any other positive adjective out there. A song that is God-breathed, Holy-spirit anointed, and one that lifts your spirits and affirms your faith, the melody speaks about trusting in God and believing that miracles are happening every day. One of the most inspiring Christian songs ever (and it’s ironic that it’s by a couple of ‘mainstream’ singers!), “When You Believe” is a track that needs no explanation, and just simply needs people listening to the song instead, and experiencing the wonder of God moving, God inhabiting our hearts, and our overflow of praise and worship to our Maker, Father, Protector and Friend.

When you frame it as ‘celebrity,’ I don’t really know how to answer that question. Because I don’t really see myself as a celebrity. I’m a recording artist. I make music, occasionally. Not to be like, ‘How dare you call me a celebrity?’. I love the glamorous stuff and the dress-up of it all. But the truth is, that’s work to me… If you don’t love it, you can’t write the songs that really affect people or make people happy, or melancholic, whatever it is, on the holidays. I do live from Christmas to Christmas; it’s the only thing I look forward to every year. Well, it’s not the only thing…but it’s truly the best time of year for me. If I’m not looking forward to something, it’s bleak. [but with my latest Christmas special] I came to it with the spirit of ‘Let’s make it festive no matter what’. If you go into anything with that kind of hopefulness, then it’ll happen.

Apart from the songs (which I reckon I’ve unintentionally written way more than I probably needed to… I tried really hard but I failed to write a blog like Jon’s about Bryan Adams… but hey, at least it’s less than other more recent blogs!), I firmly believe that an artist’s influence is rooted mostly in how they act and present themselves, and what they do, when they’re not in the spotlight. And in the case of Mariah Carey, she has been in the spotlight aplenty. Either through her 2 divorces, her time away from music in the early 2000’s, and her multiple award nominations and wins. With Mariah being called a pop icon and a “diva” for her stardom and persona; Mariah’s showmanship has also been on display as a judge in American Idol for its 12th season. During that time, Mariah became one of the highest paid American television stars; while Mariah has also been called the ‘Queen of Shade’, either fairly or unfairly, depending on your point of view. Mariah has also been considered to be one of the greatest vocalists of all time, and she is also known as the Songbird Supreme. You can view Mariah’s award nominations here on Wikipedia (which is a gigantic amount!), while Mariah is also an inductee into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. As of May 2021, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists Carey as the best-selling female artist (tied with Barbra Streisand) ; while Mariah has broken numerous Hot 100 records- she has accumulated 19 number-one singles, the most for any solo artist (and second behind the Beatles). Mariah is also the only artist to have a #1 song in each year of a particular decade (in this case, the 90’s decade). Remarkable isn’t it?

I’ve mentioned previously in this blog that success, influence, popularity and to some extent happiness, are all interlinked. I’ve also mentioned in previous blogs that the measure of whether someone is influential or not is how they’ve weathered the storms in their lives, or how they’ve inspired people away from the spotlight. With Mariah herself having success, influence and popularity in spades (we will never know about happiness- only the artist does!), I reckon songs like “Hero”, “When You Believe”, “Vision Of Love”, “Dreamlover”, “Emotions” and “All I Want Is You” are reasons enough to declare her being one of the most influential artists of all time. Basically if Mariah had ended her career after the 90’s, she’d still be influential; and that’s not a diss to her later material (because there are some hidden gems around…), but it’s a testament to how she has carried herself, her songwriting ability and her vocal ability earlier on in her career. Mariah Carey may not be popular at the moment, but there’s no denying her legendary status. Simply put, there’s not many reasons to say Mariah is influential. It is her songs, her voice and just her overall presence in an industry where right now popularity is favoured over influence. With Mariah also having launched a partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts for Mariah’s Cookies, and also having launched a new line of alcohol called Black Irish; there seems to be no area that is too ‘weird’ or ‘out there’ for Mariah. There’s also a wide range of philanthropic activities Mariah has undertaken for various causes; and though on their own, they’re not the catalyst for my assertion of Mariah’s influence, they do remind us that musicians and artists are allowed to branch out in their ‘extracurricular’ activities. But first and foremost, songs and relatable, relevant and thought-provoking lyrics are key. Mariah’s dominance as a ballad-er and an R&B artist simultaneously, and a force of nature in the 90’s, shows us how freakishly good she is. And for all of you naysayers out there… just listen to “When You Believe”. No other reason needed. Mariah’s romantic life may be in shambles. But since when do people have to be perfect to change the world. Mariah’s discography by and large is a snapshot of her feelings at a moment in time, and with Mariah’s songs showing us a wide range of relevant topics; congratulations and celebration has to be given to the iconic and legendary singer. Mariah shows us how to be a real singer, and shows us that authenticity and vulnerability is key. She reminds us that there’s never a wrong time to try to go for your dreams, and she has shown us the power of determination, of leaning on God and of leaning on your friends and family. I don’t know what’s next for Mariah Carey. Maybe a duets album or a live CD/DVD or a covers album. Or maybe a world tour when everything opens back up again. But one thing is for sure. Whatever comes next will be brilliant and awesome in the best way possible. Because she’s Mariah. Someone who God has blessed incredibly. No need for a surname because we all know who she is!

I got swept away by a shortstop but only God almighty is my all. After I was broken, I received a blessing. The trouble and trauma I endured was not only emotional it was spiritual as well, as such, I sought healing for my soul. I knew I had to revive and recommit to my relationship with God. I’m eternally grateful to have met my pastor, Bishop Clarence Keaton, when I did.

We were even rebaptized there together at True Worship. I became a student of the Bible, doing a three year intensive. We went through it from Old to New Testament. I took notes, and I took the healing words in. I would have security provided by the church and the congregation would respect my privacy, the bishop saw to it. I found community in the church and family and my Bishop treated me like a daughter. He often came to talk to me. Even when he was going through health issues toward the end of his life. It was such an honor to solidify Bishop Keaton’s legacy as a great spiritual teacher in my life and in the world by featuring him on two of my songs.

Having a family and God brought me back to my life in the light. None of my biological family understood what it meant to care so much about God, but I had to return … God was the only way I made it out of all my trips to hell. I believe my ‘ex’-brother and sister have been to a hell of their own. They may still be trapped there. They chose drugs and lies and scams to survive, but that only seemed to dig them in deeper and to make them resent me more and I still pray for them.

In the middle of a violent storm, very young, I was given a glimpse of God’s vision for me and as a child awakened to my dream. I believed with my entire being in what I was meant to do and who I was meant to be, long before anyone else did, and holding on to that belief required everything I had. Along the way, I was given signs of hope, but mostly I faced chaos and calamity, heartbreaks and betrayals to derail me, some almost killed me or worse, almost killed my spirit. In the end, and in the beginning, it’s all about faith for me. I can’t define it, but it has defined me.

Does Mariah Carey make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of all Time’ list? Is there any song (other than “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “When You Believe”, “Hero”, “Dreamlover”, “Vision Of Love”, “Fantasy”, “We Belong Together” and “Thank God I Found You”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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