By Larry Rodgers
The Arizona Republic
It's hard to doubt Mariah Carey when she says she can't walk away from music, movies and love, even after hospitalization for exhaustion, the loss of history's biggest record contract, critical disdain for her semi-autobiographical film, Glitter, and breakups with her record mogul husband, Tommy Mottola, and subsequent boyfriend Luis Miguel.
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Buoyed by a new $20 million recording deal, a CD that's gone double-platinum and a less hectic schedule, Carey has embarked on her most extensive concert tour. The 52-date trek visits U.S. theaters, including a date for a half-house show Sept. 14 at U.S. Bank Arena, before moving on to Europe and Asia.
Positive reviews for her role in last year's WiseGirls film have encouraged Carey to consider more acting after learning some lessons through 2001's ill-fated Glitter.
As for romance, after the failure of her four-year marriage to recording mogul Tommy Mottola in 1997 and her breakup with boyfriend Luis Miguel, the 33-year-old singer says she's ready for a break.
Emerging from last year's hospitalization for what she called "complete exhaustion," Carey is viewing her return to the stage as just what the doctor ordered.
"She has not been a (heavily) touring artist in the past. She's enjoying it, and she's working more dates than she ever has," says Carey's manager, John Marx.
Carey recently spoke about the ups and downs of her career and personal life, as well as what she sees on the horizon.
How are you feeling these days? Are your batteries recharged?
They have been for quite some time, thank you.
What are you doing differently to avoid getting exhausted?
I kind of had to put everybody in check who was surrounding me. People had to realize that I'm a human being as well as someone who is in the public eye and a celebrity. It's not all about working me to death, literally. It's about giving me some space, some time to actually have a couple of vacations a year, just to take a breather, which I never ever did before. I would just work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that's not healthy for anybody.
Some people are calling your latest CD, 'Charmbracelet', a comeback. Do you think the reports of your recent ups and downs have been overblown?
I do look at it like it's been overblown, but if people choose to call it a comeback album, then that's fine. This album, in a lot of ways, is coming back to my roots.
You could have walked away from everything before entering this new record deal, relaxed and wealthy. Why do it all again?
Because music is what I love, and it's hard to walk away from what you love. I do care about my fans, and I know that they wanted me to make a new record, and I wanted - and needed - to make a new record.
What type of approach did you take on 'Charmbracelet'?
The experience of making this record was so cathartic for me. Just being honest with the lyrics and singing from my heart on songs like "My Saving Grace" and "Sunflowers For Alfred Roy" - which I wrote for my father after he passed away last year - songs that I needed to write. I needed to sing those songs, and that's why I did it.
After your experience with 'Glitter,' how do you view the film industry? Did you get soured by the mixed reviews or are you still optimistic about working in movies?
I was just happy that I had done Wisegirls. It was an indie project that I did with Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters. It got really good reviews in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety and we went to the Sundance Film Festival with it.
I was just grateful that I had done that. I did that against everybody's wishes, and it was just something that I did for the love of that role. I played a waitress who is a drug dealer from Staten Island, so it was completely different from the Mariah Carey image.
I think that the lesson I learned from being involved with the first movie (Glitter) was that you don't do something just because it's what everybody says you should do. You don't have to just play a singer and be in some homogenized Hollywood situation because people tell you it's the right thing to do. I learned a lesson that it's all about art and all about doing what's going to be the best thing for you as an artist, creatively.
You've been through a divorce and a breakup in recent years. Are you still optimistic about finding love?
Yeah, (but) I'm not obsessed with it, like the public is. Every magazine is like, "Who's so-and-so dating?" and, "What's going on with these two lovebirds?" That's not my focus. I know it's hard for people to believe that about a woman, because we're all supposed to be crying out and in need. (Laughs) It's more about being at peace with myself.
Are you in a relationship now, or are you taking a break?
Yeah, just taking a little break.
If you go
Who: Mariah Carey
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14
Where: U.S. Bank Arena
Tickets: $45 and $65 at Ticketmaster outlets, (513) 562-4949 (www.ticketmaster.com)
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