Mariah makes it happen in Manila

By Jett Valle

It's almost like Muhammad Ali coming back to the Philippines for a repeat of the legendary "Thrilla in Manila." OK, maybe that's pushing it a bit. How about, say, like some monstrous tropical storm hitting -- in a good way -- these parts of the world? No, that's not quite right either. Let's just put it this way: when Mariah Carey -- a certifiable diva, nothing like the diva-divahan to be found here -- steps onto Manila soil in her designer stiletto heels, it will be one of the most scintillating superstar arrivals since, well, George W. Bush's recent visit. Damn, these analogies are difficult.

In any case, it will be big. When news of it first came out, people already started e-mailing the official and unofficial Mariah websites to check if the diva was indeed coming to Manila. It was initially canceled, true, but with the other legs in Asia of the Charmbracelet World Tour finally getting the greenlight, Mariah in Manila was cemented.

My bitch of a friend, who believes more in the Gospel According to Madonna rather than Mariah, heard the song "Loverboy" from the soundtrack of the ill-fated Glitter, sneered with eyebrows raised, "I just don't get it. She sings, "I want a sugar daddy!' in that song but, like, didn't she just leave one?!?!" He, of course, was referring to Mariah's divorce with record company mogul Tommy Mottola. Still, when he heard that Mariah is coming to town earlier than Santa, he called the ticketron right away and grabbed a ticket in the priciest section. "I wouldn't miss it for the world!" he remarked. "Mariah is Mariah, 'no!"

Who could blame him? And mind you, he is not alone. There are millions and millions of him around the world who can never get enough of Mariah mania, physical and nervous breakdowns be damned. But like my friend, I'm just being mean. After all, the current Charmbracelet World Tour is a triumphant climax for Mariah's successful comeback bid that began with the December 2002 release of the chart-busting album Charmbracelet (which incidentally sold more than a million copies in the US alone and a whopping 3 million copies worldwide). The album includes the fast-growing karaoke favorite (to replace "Butterfly" or even "My Heart Will Go On" by fellow diva Celine Dion) "Through The Rain." It also spawned the hits "Boy (I Need You)" and "Bringing On the Heartbreak," as well as her collaboration with Busta Rhymes, "I Know What You Want."

"Writing Charmbracelet was a cathartic experience," she has said. "I've been through a lot, personally and professionally. I lost my father this year, after we had reunited and become close. It was very hard for me and a lot of that emotion is on the album." Mariah even wrote and dedicated a song for her departed dad. "The experience of recording this album is almost like the experience of my life," she confided to her fans on her website. "Going through it, dealing with things, and remaining hopeful."

Mariah has always seemed straightforward in her press interviews, moreso in her songwriting. Most of her songs, in fact, resonate with her personal experiences and feelings.

Truth be told, her platinum-minted repertoire mirrors her ongoing evolution, from a naive and bright-eyed dreamer to the more pragmatic and yet stubbornly optimistic diva that she is now.

Picture the past
In 1990, the first time she heard her debut single "Visions of Love" on the radio, she was ecstatic to say the least. She enthused, "I was in a car with a friend of mine and we were both screaming and calling people on the phone. It was definitely a memorable moment!" That same soaring ballad effortlessly hit No. 1, the first in a succession of chartbusters (she holds the record for the most No. 1 singles, a total of 15 hits). "I still didn't understand the whole chart thing at the moment, but I still freaked out to see my song on No. 1, she said, looking back.When she performed the same song at that year's Grammy Awards, where she brought home two trophies (Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance), Mariah was on needles and pins. "I was so nervous during the performance and the acceptance," she gasped, "that I couldn't really enjoy the moment."

Although only a year had passed since "Visions of Love," by 1991 Mariah had already scored five No. 1 singles in a row with her album Emotions. "I was totally ecstatic but, again, everything happened so fast it was hard to take it all," she intimated.

By 1995 Mariah had become a seasoned pro. She even directed the music video of "Fantasy," her first attempt as director. "I had so much fun doing that," she said. "Especially that scene with the clown. That was the best part." "Fantasy," from her Daydream album, also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but that banner year also coincided with a turbulent time in her personal life. "I was incredibly happy, of course," she revealed, "but I was at this point in my personal life that I was feeling very stifled." A week later, Daydream also hit No. 1. "I worked very hard on that album and, of course, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment."

The year 1996 was another record-breaking year for Mariah. "One Sweet Day," her collaboration with Boyz II Men, made history by staying at No. 1 for an unprecedented 16 weeks. "Everyone involved in my career worked so hard for that record and the song was very special to a lot of people, she remarked. "So it was even more gratifying."

In 1997 she released Butterfly, her most favorite album to date. "That album is so close to my heart," she acknowledged. "I was really excited about it. It's such a personal album and my favorite work so far. I was extremely grateful for its success."

She capped the '90s with a big bang, being declared Artist of the Decade by Billboard magazine in 1999. "I'll never forget that moment," she beamed with pride. "I felt such a sense of accomplishment and was so proud. I really felt like my fans had played a huge part in helping to make that happen for me."

And that can be the secret to her enduring appeal. Mariah's honesty, her sincere desire to reach out to her fans by being true to her art and by being real about her life. In her past interviews, she openly talked about her struggles as a multiethnic teen who encountered racial discrimination, as an aspiring singer who rose above her poverty-stricken background. Mariah's Cinderella story could very well be the story of her many fans.

Before hitting it big with her powerhouse voice, she worked as a waitress and admitted to being fired from "20 restaurants" because of her "sassy attitude." She also labored as a coat-checker, beauty salon janitress and part-time backup singer. It was that last gig as backup vocalist for R&B chanteuse Brenda K. Starr that changed Mariah's destiny. It was Brenda who gave Sony Music Entertainment top gun Tommy Mottola Mariah's demo tape in a party. Legend has it that Mottola played the demo on his ride home and ordered his driver to immediately return to the party so that he could meet Mariah. As soon as he did, he offered her a recording contract right there and then.

Charmed, like, totally
In more ways than one, the Charmbracelet World Tour serves as Mariah's thanksgiving to her legions of fans who never wavered in their support for her, notwithstanding the ups and downs of her colorful career. The Manila show, her very first concert appearance in the Philippines, promises to be an eventful evening for both the diva and Pinoy fans. "I am passionate about doing something more intimate for my fans," Mariah told the media. "I'm used to doing arena tours. But this tour is about my music and my fans."The title Charmbracelet, both for her world tour and her album, is largely symbolic for Mariah. "Charmbracelets have always had a personal and sentimental significance for me," she explained. "Charms are like pieces of yourself that you pass on to other people. Items that tell your story and that can be shared, like a song. The bracelet represents the foundation of this album, a body of work that encompasses my feelings."

The Manila stop of the Charmbracelet World Tour is set on November 16 at The Fort Open Field, Fort Bonifacio, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Mariah Live in Concert: The Charmbracelet World Tour 2003 is presented by Globe's G Plan Opti Sim, Petron Blaze and Tommy Hilfiger Watches, in cooperation with No Curfew and GMA Network. It is sponsored in part by Kotex Newtex Pads, Pantene Total Care, Teazann International, East West Global Entertainment, MTV Philippines, Wave 89.1, Jam 88.3, Magic 89.9, Joey@92.3, RX 93.1, iFM 93.9, 99.5 RT, 103.5 K-Lite and 105.1 Crossover.

Tickets are available at Ticketworld (891-5610, 634-2160) and hot lines 0916-4674790, 0927-2415082, 0918-58-8960 and 0919-4127461. The concert will start on time at 8 pm but gates will open as early as 3 pm. Tight security measures will be taken so as to avoid any mishaps and there will be enough parking space. Ambulances and medical tents will be mobilized for emergency measures. Fire trucks will be on hand and there will be four PNP outposts. A total of eight entrances with signages will be used to facilitate entry. In any event that a nonticket holder would slip into the venue or a ticket holder is spotted in the wrong area, they can be reported to bouncers and, once caught, they will be brought outside the venue and not be allowed inside anymore.


Bron : ABS-CBN News

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