Mariah Carey: How My Children Influenced My Decision to Join ‘American Idol’

Mariah & Nicki Talk Feud
The two disagree on the nature of their argument.
Music fans got a jolt last July when Mariah Carey signed on to become a judge on FOX’s American Idol. But after giving birth to twins in 2011, the pop diva felt like she needed to stop touring and settle down with husband, actor and America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon, and babies Moroccan and Monroe.

“I don’t know that I felt like this would ever be necessarily the right fit for me, but then it turned out really working well after I had the babies and everything,” Carey told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Tuesday.

“You can kind of stay in one place and let them feel grounded and have fun and go to children’s museums and all that kind of stuff,” she continued.

With more than 200 million record sales, Carey is one of the biggest-selling artists in music history. So what does she sing to her babies to put them to sleep?

“We found this thing called Babies Love MC,” she said about a collection of songs on iTunes that carried lullaby versions of her songs, which were not approved by the Carey camp and later pulled down.

“They’ve even got the song ‘Obsessed’ on there,” she said about her tune featuring lyrics that read, “Why you so obsessed with me? Boy, I want to know, lyin’ that you’re sexin’ me.”

“I’m like, ‘You really want babies listening to ‘Obsessed’? But there’s no lyrics, they’re just hearing the melodies,” she assured reporters. “So I’ll go in there and sing along with them, into the nursery. Sometimes I’ll sing ‘Hero,’ it could be ‘We Belong Together,’ they even have ‘Shake It Off.’ So it’s great to sing to them, even just to sing one note and hear them be on pitch, that’s major.”

And what did Carey’s mom sing to her when she was a baby? When the New York native first heard Harry Nilsson’ssong, ‘Without You,’ playing as muzak in an Italian restaurant in Florida, she turned to her dining partner and said, “I think I should remake this.” She did, and the single became a huge hit. Little did Carey know her own mother used to sing her the very same song when she was just a baby.

“I don’t remember that happening but she said that and I believe her,” she confided about her first exposure to pop music.

“I grew up with a mom who was an opera singer in a family that’s biracial with a lot of R&B music playing, soul music,” she recalled. “I’ve had this sort of love of music that’s carried me through my life and gotten me through the deepest darkest times in my life.”

Carey’s white mother, Patricia Hickey, was ostracized from her family for eloping with Carey’s father, Alfred Roy, an African-American and Venezuelan. The strain was too much for their relationship and when Carey was three, her parents were divorced.

As a person of mixed race, she felt ostracized in the neighborhood where she grew up and took refuge in music, an experience that helped shape her career behind the mic as well as her new position as a judge on Idol.

“When I look at a lot of these contestants, I can kind of see something in some of them if they have that hurt, if they have that extra feeling,” she said. “If I have to say no, that means it’s going to be a better life experience for them. It happened to me. I was told no a lot of times. You just need that extra bit of time.”

American Idol returns Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8PM on FOX.

What do you think of Mariah’s musical secret weapon in the nursery?

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