Mariah Carey talks to W about her life and career...

Mariah Carey talks to W about her life and career for the magazine's holiday issue. Credit: Ethan James Green

Mariah Carey seems to be everywhere for the holiday season from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to the radio air waves belting her hit "All I Want for Christmas (Is You)." Now she's also gracing the cover of W magazine's holiday issue, which features a candid interview with the Long Island native about her life and career.

The singer, who grew up in several towns on Long Island including Northport, Melville and Greenlawn, opens up about her difficult early life including violence and drug abuse among her siblings and being bullied by other kids because she was biracial. “It was an extremely dysfunctional childhood, to the point where it’s shocking that I made it out of that at all,” Carey, 53, told the magazine.

Not only did she make it out, but since 1990, she's recorded 15 studio albums — including "Butterfly," which turns 25 this year — and has won five Grammy Awards. Along the way, she earned a reputation as a diva, which she seems to relish.

“Yes, I play into it. And yes, part of that is real," she told W. "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.”

Christmas, Carey admits, was often a sad time for her as a child, so she has tried to make it a special time for her 11-year-old twins, Moroccan and Monroe, including a visit from Santa and his reindeer each year.

And of course, there's her perennial holiday anthem, which she co-wrote with Walter Afanasieff and recorded in 1994 for her album "Merry Christmas." "I didn’t want it to feel specific to any era, so we didn’t use sounds that were happening at that time." she said. "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.”

Carey also revealed she is working with Lee Daniels, who directed her in the 2009 movie "Precious," on a TV series based on her memoir "The Meaning of Mariah Carey." “My life in general is actually much more layered than what people know or what is even in the book,” she said. “People who have been friends with me for years were like, ‘How come you never told me all of this happened to you?’ At this point in my life, it’s about doing things that I really want to do.”

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