Mariah Carey On Racial Identity And Being A Woman In A 'Male-Dominated Industry'

Ata Owaji Victor
·3-min read
Photo credit: Amy Sussman - Getty Images
Photo credit: Amy Sussman - Getty Images


Mariah Carey has opened up about her racial identity and the complexities of being a female musician in a male-dominated industry during a recent podcast.

Carey - best known for her five-octave vocal range - is of African-American, Afro-Venezuelan and Irish descent, and spoke about how her heritage has informed her racially ambiguous appearance in an episode of Questlove Supreme's weekly podcast (January 13). The 90s R&B icon discusses her experience growing up and the challenges she faced as a racially ambiguous child, and later, world-famous pop star.

In the episode Carey also touches on what it was like 'being a woman in a male-dominated industry'. During the conversation with musician Questlove, which lasted almost two hours, the singer explains that, in her memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she was finally able to tell 'her story', wanting to start at the beginning with, 'I don't understand my hair because I'm [half-black].'

Carey goes on to say that personally being able to write the memoir was important for the star because 'a lot of people that [Carey] admired didn't get a chance to do that. They may have told their stories through their music and people interpret their stories [posthumously].'

During part one of the deeply revealing sit down (part two is set to be released Friday 15), Carey notes that she wrote the memoir so that any stories in memorandum of her wouldn't begin with her musical career.

'I know some people, Ahmir, like to have everybody else's input and their perspective. But what I wanted was to tell my actual story, which doesn't begin with, "Mariah Carey put out Vision of Love in 1990", says the 90s hit heavyweight.

She continues on to explain that, 'No, it doesn't begin with that. It begins [with me] colouring in the "wrong" crayon with a brown crayon for my father, so they all freak out at me.' Carey notes that her early struggles 'with all these identity issues' and 'issues of race' ultimately lead to 'the issues of control'.

Control remains a central subject of the megastar's conversation with Questlove, as the 50-year-old goes on to detail her time breaking into the music industry as a young woman. Carey explains in the clip that 'there's a thing where there's a constant theme [with] being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Then [I was] a woman of colour with all this ambiguity and [had] people deciding how they're going to market me [at the time].'

The subsequent marketing and presentation of Carey at the time has been central to conversations about colourism, race and musical ownership for women in the 90s for a number of years. The subject and how it relates to the songstress is covered extensively in her memoir released last September 29.

Part two of the podcast is set to be released Friday 15 on I Heart Radio.

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