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Mariah Carey

Setting Mimi Free

MariahMulti-million-selling, two-time Grammy winner Mariah Carey has experienced great highs and lows in the course of her 15-year career. But on the eve of the North American release of her eighth studio album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," Carey is confident, upbeat and spirited.

The Island release is decidedly pop and R&B, with flourishes of hip-hop. Carey co-wrote the set's 14 tracks and co-produced the bulk of them and executive-produced the collection with Island Def Jam Music Group chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid.

"Mimi," titled after Carey's nickname, features collaborations with several heavy hitters, including Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Twista and James "Big Jim" Wright. First single "It's Like That" is No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week.

Album promotions are touting this album as "the return of the voice." But as Carey points out, "The voice has been here all along. Even if you listen to the oh-so-dissed 'Glitter' [soundtrack], there is a song called 'Lead the Way,' which is one of my best vocal performances ever."

Though Carey admits she is a fan of big-voiced singers, she says, "I don't want to hear someone scream at me all the time." When Carey sings, she says, it's not about "showing off so everybody can hear me singing at the top of my lungs. But truth be told, I feel that my voice is in a better place than it has been in years."