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February 6, 2006

Mariah Carey's Emancipation

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Carey and Her Fans

The responsibility Carey feels for her fans just may be her way of repaying them for their commitment to her: "I feel an unconditional love with my fans that I don't feel in any other part of my life," she says, then adds, "which I guess is a sad thing to say. But it's also a nice thing to say." (She notes that she does get unconditional love from Jack, her beloved Jack Russell terrier, but jokes that "he's sort of a celebrity himself, so that's different.")

With albums and songs that span genres nearly as vast as her seven-octave vocal range ‑- love songs, pop ballads, rap-singing mixes, a holiday-staple Christmas album ("Nothing against Casio, but I wrote 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' on my little Casio keyboard! I never knew it would turn into the hit it is!") ‑- Carey is the rare artist who can count grandparents all the way down to first-graders among her fans. When it's suggested that the only other performer with a similar appeal would be Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she widens her eyes at the coincidence: "Let's say we're editing a video, and there's a moment in the film where I happen to look up and start smiling ‑- I can't even emulate it now, but it's what we always call a 'Dorothy moment.' We'll be like, Can we use it, or is it too Dorothy?" she says. "I think what that look is, is just the optimistic person within me who hasn't shattered. Thank God."

This very together woman actually stands to shatter several records in her lifetime. Turning 36 this March, with the momentum of The Emancipation behind her ‑- as well as those 17 number-one hits under her snipped-off jeans's waistband ‑- it is entirely likely that she could outdo the Beatles' record by the time she turns 40. Carey is understandably humbled in discussing it: "I don't even want to think about that," she says. "The Beatles are history. So is Elvis. Even if I did break those records, I'm a woman and they're men, so it would be apples and oranges. I really, truly am blessed and grateful at this moment that 'We Belong Together' is my biggest song of all time."

At press time, "We Belong Together" was up for four Grammy awards, a statuette Carey hasn't taken home (despite 18 previous nominations) since she was named Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist in 1991, at age 20. In December she won five Billboard Music Awards, and she says she needs to get another antique jewelry case to hold all her awards. "We were putting some of the new awards in the case, and I was like, These look a shambles. So I need a new case, and I need to rearrange them. I will dust them and move them myself, because if somebody breaks them, I'll be mad!"

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