Pop megastar Mariah Carey is known for her numerous number one hits and elaborate ensembles, but in her new book, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the singer, who has been in the limelight for three decades, revealed that her faith is what defines her.
Throughout the pages of her new memoir, the Grammy Award-winning songstress shared of her harrowing childhood and lack of parental and familial love. Carey first detailed having an experience with God after a frightening blowup in her family, while being consoled by her great aunt “Nana Reese.” The experience with God, following the traumatic event, awakened her faith.
“It was as if she looked directly into the essence of me. In that instance, we were not a frightened little girl and a consoling elder, but two souls ageless and equal,” Carey described of her moment with her Nana Reese after a brawl broke out between Carey’s dad and brother.
“She told me, ‘Don't be scared of all the trouble you see, all your dreams and visions are going to happen for you. Always remember that.’ As she spoke, a warm and loving current spread out from her hand to my leg, gently coursing through my body in waves and rising up and out of the top of my head,” the singer explained in her book, which rose to the top of Amazon’s best-selling books.
Carey described her experience as some Christians would describe being touched by the Holy Spirit.
“Through the devastation, a path had been washed clear. I knew there was light, and somehow I knew that light was mine and everlasting. Before that moment, I hadn't had any dreams I could remember ... I certainly had yet to hear a song in my head, or have a vision,” she continued.
Carey’s mother kept her away from her father’s side of the family, including Nana Reese who was a minister in a church in Harlem.
“I did later learn that people called Nana Reese, a prophetess,” Carey wrote. “I also learned that she was not the only healer in my lineage. Beyond all that, I believe a deep faith was awakened to me that day. I understood on a soul level, that no matter what happened to me or around me, something lived inside me that I could always call on. I had something that would guide me through any storm.”
She later added, still talking about that day with her great aunt, "I truly believed, anything I wanted was possible. It was real to me. Absolute. My father did not believe anything is possible."
The artist described her father, Alfred Roy Carey, as African-American and Venezuelan and as a unitarian. Her mother, Patricia Hickey, is of Caucasian and Irish descent and was not into Christianity. Hickey once had the singer perform while still a child, dressed in lingerie and during what appeared to be a late-night “seance” with friends.
The “Hero” singer detailed many disturbing things in her early childhood, including the time her older sister drugged her and tried to “pimp” her out.
She stressed that "God's grace" saved her life from that as well as from “drowning” on another occasion.
The book is laden with song lyrics and titles. Her song, “Anytime you need a friend,” is a reflection of her belief that “God kept me alive.”
"I wrote that song thinking of what God would say to us in times of fear," Carey noted, saying it was rooted in spirituality.
She also noted that her “racist” grandmother, from her mom’s side, taught her the Lord's prayer the only time they met.
After Carey escaped her childhood and became an artist in the big city of New York, she found herself in a relationship with record label mogul Tommy Mottola, who she said kept her prisoner. She eventually broke free from that four-year marriage and had a short love affair with major league baseball player Derek Jeter.
“I got swept away by a shortstop but only God almighty is my all,” Carey wrote after admitting that she penned her classic love song “My All” for Jeter.
In the detailed memoir, which includes some vulgar language, the New York native said that her faith saved her after a breakdown in 2002. Her backup singer and friend introduced the artist to “her pastor,” Rev. Clarence Keaton, who helped her rebuild her life.
“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,” Carey confessed. “I’m eternally grateful to have met my pastor, Bishop Clarence Keaton, when I did.”
She said she and her backup singer used to attend True Worship Church Worldwide Ministries in Brooklyn together.
“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,” Carey testified.
“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.”
Keaton was featured on the songs “I Wish You Well” and “Fly Like a Bird” on Carey’s albums. He and the True Worship choir also joined her on “Good Morning America” in 2009 before his death.
“Having a family and God brought me back to my life in the light,” she said.
“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.”
The book ends with Carey sharing what she believes is the true meaning of her life.
She quoted the scripture, “For I assure you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move, nothing will be impossible to you. Matthew 17: 20.”
“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,” Carey said. “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.”