It was starting to look grim for fans who were hoping Mariah Carey would tour to support “The Emancipation of Mimi.”
She certainly didn’t need to. Since its release last year, the album sold more than five million copies, spawned smash hits like “We Belong Together” and won three Grammys, all without her hitting the road.
Plus, Carey didn’t even know if she wanted to tour. She dreaded staging a long jaunt, and was taking time to savor the sweet success of her comeback. But after some cajoling from fans, the multi-octave diva realized that she needed to be on stage — that she wanted to celebrate the album that marked one of the sweetest times in her long career.
AP: What took you so long to get on the road?
Carey: (Laughs.) Honestly, it was kind of like the album, it has its own life. And I wanted to allow myself to make videos, to really work the record more than I have ... allow people to experience the album, to live with the songs, to feel the videos and the energy and basically get where I was coming from with this project on that level first.
AP: What are the special things you’re planning this time around?
Carey: It’s going to be kind of off the cuff ... When I said there may be special guests, that’s kind of the way the record was made. It’s like, I’m in a studio, someone is in the next room, all of a sudden, me and Snoop made a record together. It wasn’t planned. If I happen to be in a city where I know somebody who I collaborated with on the record, you never know, they might want to show up if we have that kind of relationship.
AP: How do you determine which songs you’re going to play and which ones you’re not going to sing without alienating your fans
Carey: I feel like I’m a tough critic. When I go to other people’s shows that I’m fans of, and if I don’t hear my favorite song, I’m like, ‘Man, why?’ (laughs). I’m going to do my best to please the crowd, but I also want to be able to express myself creatively, and I think that there’s a happy medium now. The set list that I’m working with now — I won’t reveal it yet, darling (laughs) — but it’s a work in progress, it is going to achieve that, because some of the fans really do want to hear an old album cut. And then it’s like some of the fans have heard you do ‘Hero’ 9,000 times and are like whatever.
AP: How much stuff do you haul around on tour?
Carey: I’m in the process of trying to get my bus together because I’m going to go by bus for the first time, because I really do sleep well by driving — not at the wheel (laughs) but I’ve always been able to sleep in a car, and my main thing is I always need a lot of rest when I tour ... I think it’s going to be pretty cool, especially in America, to see the surroundings and really feel where I’m at, as opposed to being whisked into a hotel room at whatever-o-clock in the morning.
AP: Is your dog, Jack, coming?
Carey: Oh yes, Jack has his own section. He’s going to have his own little nook. It’s already planned out. ... I may have to bring him out every now and then. It depends on the crowd.
AP: Besides Jack, what is a must-have on the bus?
Carey: Really just to make it as private as possible in my little living space where I’ll be hanging out and sleeping. As long as I have a TV and a bed a some humidifiers, I’ll be all right.
AP: What do you do during your down time?
Carey: I don’t know if people realize that for me to tour, I actually have to have a full day and a half off in between shows, whereas most touring artists do every night, and I just can’t do that, because I’m very strong, but I’m very delicate in many ways too. So in my down time, the thing that requires the most discipline is not talking. Like, I wouldn’t be doing an interview. I wouldn’t be talking to anyone, I’d be writing notes, and sitting in a humidified room, sleeping.
AP: Has your voice ever given out on you on tour?
Carey: No, it’s never that, I just know my voice. And honestly, the late great, Luther Vandross — who I had the utmost respect for — taught me an invaluable lesson, which is about the humidification, because the tone of his voice, the airy quality, when he would sing in that breathy voice, there’s a similarity that we have. He would say, ‘The best place for us is a really warm climate, and you really need to make sure you have humidifiers around yourself all the time.’
AP: With all the success you’ve had with this album, has it become one of your most special?
Carey: This and ‘Butterfly’ are my two favorites because they mark two very special significant times in my life, so this will always be a favorite of mine. And I just love that songs like ‘Shake It Off’ were allowed to be singles. In the past, I would immediately get, ‘It’s too urban, you can’t put it out.’ The experience of this record has just been so much fun for me, and just the freedom, and the title was very apropos, because this has been a lot of freedom for me as an artist.
AP: So now that you’re free and there’s been an emancipation ...
Carey: Now we’re having an adventure.