After suffering car bomb attacks and having their dogs poisoned
by their neighbors, Alfred and Patricia divorced, with Patricia
taking custody of Mariah, who was 3 at the time, and her epileptic
older brother, Morgan. Mariah basically spent her childhood as a
nomad, moving from home to home with the radio her only babysitter.
This period of struggle formed an unshakable bond between mother
and daughter. "She gave me the belief that I could do this," Carey
explained at the beginning of her career. And do it she could. At
the age of 3, Mariah was correcting her mother's phrasing - in Italian.
Other influences included her brother's soul records and mail-order
gospel albums. "It's hard to explain," she has said, "but sometimes
when I'm singing gospel, everything seems to be right. I'm not thinking,
'I don't know how I'm going to sing the next line,' because I'm
letting go, the choir's wailing and there's an uplifting spiritual
moment - it comes from somewhere else."