Watch Mariah Carey’s Songwriters Hall of Fame Speech: Full Transcript

Grammy Awards are one thing, but being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame is another matter — the nominees are decided by a relatively small group of songwriters and music editors and celebrated in an invite-only event, and it’s a tough crowd.

It’s a sadly common assumption that female pop stars don’t write their own music — even Taylor Swift, one of the greatest and most distinguished songwriters of the last 25 years, is often met with skepticism. So for Mariah Carey – who was mocked in a widely shared meme when she made a statement beginning with the words “As a songwriter” – being sworn in is a big deal. It was actually announced in 2020, but because of the pandemic, the ceremony was not held until Thursday night.

At the ceremony, Carey was introduced at midnight by Roots drummer and “Summer of Soul” director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson — an Oscar- and Grammy-winning trained musician and author who knows his stuff. He began by joking, recalling that when he had the opportunity to meet her for the first time in the 1990s, he was “so intimidated by her scent – ​​Smokey Pineapple or whatever she was wearing” that he shied away before meeting her. . But he upped his fragrance game, met her later and are now close friends, and her speech got very serious.

“She’s always been a serious songwriter and a serious artist,” he said. “So many stars, they get so big that you think of a person as a product. And it’s harder for black artists, especially black women, to succeed at that level. The list of those artists who aren’t with us is long and sad” – he listed Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince and others – “It’s almost like there’s a price to pay for breaking 10 million”.

Carey, of course, famously speaks in a way that many perceive as giddy, but it’s actually the sound of a person whose thoughts are moving faster than they can articulate them, and if you read the transcript below, that’s mostly literal, he sometimes looks like a wacky stand-up comedian. But the impact and importance of what she says below is heavy – though it’s filled with dozens of comedic comments, including playing the violin and posing with sunglasses and a mask, there are heartbreaking anecdotes from her childhood, and the heartache of this meme and the years. without being taken seriously is obvious.

So watch the video and read on – and the next time anyone wants to poke fun at Mariah Carey’s status as a songwriter, remember she was praised and inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, alongside Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer and John. Lennon Carole King and Tom Petty and Jay-Z and so many other legends, by no less musical authority than Questlove. So, chew it up, haters.

Carey’s speech follows, more or less verbatim. Variety will have more of the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony coming soon.

Well, first thank you very much! Second, let me check this lighting, because I’m not sure… it’s a long story, my lighting guy couldn’t get on the plane. So it was like… (rolls eyes, lifts mask) Shit, here’s my mask! I became a hermit, in case anyone was curious, so this is my first live moment! (Crowd applause)

So thank you all, I have these little presidential monitors, they’re really little, what do you call it? (Speaks unintelligibly to Questlove off the mic) We’re having a word game now, it’s like a thought-provoking. So anyway, obviously… (play with sunglasses) let me see, do i do this? I do not? (Puts on sunglasses for applause) It’s a moment, take a picture! (Beams and poses, with big Hollywood smile)

So anyway! Thank you to everyone in this room. First of all, it’s amazing that there’s even a show honoring the songwriters, right? Applaud everyone, because this is a great. wake up. I mean, obviously, thanks to my friend Ahmir, as I said, Oscar winner and winner of all awards, but thanks for that intro, and… I missed the first half (adopts the voice of Blanche DuBois), I do not like very much to remember. Anyway, and also congratulations to my fellow inductees! I remember when I inducted Jermaine Dupri, before COVID, three years ago, I was like, “Jermaine, you know what? I’m very upset with you being sworn in before me” – but that’s another story, I hope someone else does. (air quotes) post this clip, maybe it will come back to me.

Anyway, it’s not the easiest profession in the world. Between — this is a word my friend said to me the other day — the facocta processes, and the business side — no offense, we love entrepreneurs, we true love the entrepreneurs, they’re our friends, they’re our best friends, and we love it.

But I just want to say that my whole journey – because Ahmir kind of touched on all these things – started with poetry, in my childhood. And then – well, actually, I believe the melodies came first. And then I started writing these poems, and people would say, “This girl has a dark view of the world at the age of six.” And I did, because I came from this incredibly dysfunctional background. And it was this whole thing, music, and walking alone and making up melodies and writing words in a book – Oh, by the way, here’s my old school… (Picks up sheets of paper while the mask is hanging from her wrist)… Tangent for a second… here’s my mask! … This was literally me jotting down my … I just want to show you, because I don’t write on my phone, I don’t like the noise because you get alerts … I know there’s one thing you can turn off, but whatever: (holds up sheets of paper) These are my legitimate notes!

I constantly have to remind people that I’m a songwriter. It became a joke, to the point where… because they’re all into the diva thing, it’s like, “Oh my God, she’s a diva, wow, diva. (Puts on glasses and gets dressed, crowd laughs) You might be a little familiar with the meme of me repeating over and over again, “As a songwriter, as a songwriter, as a songwriter, as a songwriter!” I hope tonight we can create another meme, AS. A. COMPOSER! (Raises prize and smiles)

Just to touch on something I kind of never get to say in public: in my early teens, I didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to be a singer or aspire to do so. And I’ve always assumed that the person you’re listening to on the radio – because you’ve listened to the radio in the past – was the one who wrote the songs, so I didn’t know there was a differentiation, I was just like, “Obviously this person wrote the song”. But meeting the people who are the unsung heroes of the whole thing – it’s an amazing situation, so please give yourselves another round of applause! (Applause)

I’ll discuss my little teenage moment with you, and see what you think. In high school I was always late – that’s why there’s this whole “Mirage” thing being my nickname because I was never there: I was working on my demo tape – demo tape, there was a thing called tapes, they existed and you had to like… this is a long story, but anyway, [I’d be] driving around in my mom’s Cutlass Supreme piece of shit, and I was always getting lost. I’ve lived in 14 different places, always getting lost in the Bronx, I’ve gotten lost in some obscure part of Long Island, anyway I’m thankful that’s gone – I don’t drive anymore, luckily for the world!

So I didn’t tell anyone that that’s what I was doing. They just thought I was never in school, “She just doesn’t care about it.” And, you know, many… mine friends, I guess we can call them friends, they told their parents I wasn’t going to college, and their parents were shocked. They would sit there if I was deemed fit to be invited to someone’s house – that’s [her biography] “Does your mother know you’re not going to college?” I was like, “I don’t think my mom ever said the word ‘college’ to me.” But it does not matter.

And then there would be the occasional jock at school who would be like (thick Long Island accent), “Yes, you will work at HoJo’s [Howard Johnson’s] five years from now.” So I think everyone in this room can appreciate this a year after the HoJo’s comment – no offense to anyone from HoJo’s, by the way, it’s a job and it pays off, so yay everyone, but it wasn’t mine aspiration – I was offered… drumroll, I don’t have but drum roll? (House band drummer plays drums), Thanks … five million dollars for my [songwriting] Catalog! (dish accident)

So I didn’t take it, although at the time, $1 was everything. Like, did I take the subway or did I get an H&H bagel? They have already closed this place, I am very upset. But you know what I’m saying – it was $5,000. Thank God I didn’t get it – not that [money] that’s all it is, of course it’s about the craft and the self-expression and the connection, it’s the channeling, it’s the whole thing.

But to quote my friend who was here earlier, [top music attorney] Alan Grubman, “It’s not about the money – it’s about the money!” (Laughter) So thank God I didn’t do that.

Thank you all for listening to my tangents. But I just want to end on this note: I’ve read that out of the total 439 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees, only 32 were women – as of THIS MOMENT. And now I’m turning 33!

So, as my dad once told me, “You did well, boy.” Thank you very much! I did well!

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