Mariah Carey opens up about her “dysfunctional” childhood and reveals why that plays a part in how important Christmas is to her in a new interview with W Magazine.

The musician, who is on the cover of the publication’s “Volume 6 The Holiday Issue”, shares of what Christmas means to her: “Darling, look, I know a lot of the time people are like, ‘Oh, yay! Look at her! She’s, like, so festive and such a Christmas girl,’ or whatever. But, really, Christmas makes me happy.

“People think I had this princess-style life or whatever, a kind of fairy-tale existence where I just emerged, like, ‘Here I am!’ And that is not what it is. I doubt you have enough time to write about all that, so we won’t go into it.

“But when you grow up with a messed-up life and then you’re able to have this transformation where you can make your life what you want it to be? That is joy for me. That’s why I want my kids to have everything they can have. I want them to be able to understand that they can be anything they want to be.”

Mariah Carey. Photographs by Ethan James Green
Mariah Carey. Photographs by Ethan James Green

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The magazine points out that “Carey was born in Huntington, New York, to a Black father, an aeronautical engineer, and a white mother, a singer who performed with the New York City Opera.”

Carey previously opened up about experiencing scenes of violence and drug abuse among her siblings in her 2020 memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey.

She adds to W Mag: “It was an extremely dysfunctional childhood, to the point where it’s shocking that I made it out of that at all… There were no role models for people who were clearly mixed or, you know, light-skinned or whatever we were categorizing it as then, so I didn’t know who to look up to when I was growing up. It was difficult.”

Mariah Carey. Photographs by Ethan James Green
Mariah Carey. Photographs by Ethan James Green

Elsewhere in the candid chat, Carey talks about the success of “All I Want for Christmas” and how the track came to be: “Okay, so the idea of me doing a Christmas album at all came from the record company. It was very early in my career, and I thought it was a little early for me to be doing that, but I was like, ‘Well, I love Christmas.’ I had some very sad Christmases as a child, but I always try to find the bright light there.

“I was sort of up late, walking around this house where I was living with my first ex-husband, and I had a keyboard, and, no, I am by no means a piano player, but I can pluck out chords when I need to. But I prefer to work with a virtuoso piano player because I hear the chords. I was actually having a conversation with Solange [Knowles] about this last night. When you’re hearing a chord, and you can sing each note to a virtuoso player, it’s much easier than me sitting there being like, ‘Oh, I know, I’m missing one little thing right here’… I didn’t want it to feel specific to any era, so we didn’t use sounds that were happening at that time. That way, it would feel classic and timeless. But I could never have imagined that it would become such a major part of my life…”

READ MORE: Mariah Carey Reveals She’ll Be Opening For Santa At Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: ‘My Childhood Dream Is Coming To Life’

The hitmaker also discusses her reputation as being a diva, telling the mag: “There are things people are not aware of, because this whole quote unquote ‘diva’ thing is always what people see first… Yes, I play into it. And yes, part of that is real. I can’t help it. Like, what do you do if you grew up with an opera singer for a mother, who went to Juilliard and made her debut at Lincoln Center? There’s just a certain amount that is going to emerge. So, yes, it’s just an affectation, and sometimes it’s purposely done, and sometimes it’s just, like, you know, a response.”