Pop singer Mariah Carey is only 24 but has already racked up a long string of hit records. Her multi-octave voice is a fixture on Top 40, R & B and adult-contemporary radio. She's become "America's Sweetheart" to journalists who can't find a dent in her storybook career -- and to millions of teen-agers who relish her songs about fulfilling dreams through hard work and perseverance.
Carey, who grew up poor, was raised by her mother in the New York area. They moved 13 times during her childhood. She was a hat-check girl before her break came, so she knows about paying dues. Carey also recalls attending a summer camp at age 11 that was "a horrible dump that I'd like to forget." Thus, getting involved with the new Camp Mariah is special to her.
Apart from her philanthropy, which is a welcome contrast to the behavior of some of her self-indulgent peers, Carey is becoming a much more confident singer. Her early albums were often polished to a fault, but she cuts loose with unbridled soul on the new Christmas disc. Oddly enough, it may be her best album. She blends original songs (such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You," which debuted in video form on MTV this week) with traditional carols ("Silent Night" and "Joy to the World") and even Phil Spector's Yuletide classic, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."