Mariah Carey Brings Christmas Spirit to Audience at Madison Square Garden

Nothing screams Christmas like Mariah Carey. Dubbed the "Queen of Christmas," the five-octave powerhouse vocalist has been synonymous with the holiday since she released her first holiday album, Merry Christmas, in 1994. Unlike other artists, Carey didn't wait until she was a decade-plus into her career to release a full-length of Christmas classics and originals. She's kept the sleigh bells ringing ever since. This year, she took it to new heights by performing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time, closing the show out with Santa singing her 12 million copies plus sold "All I Want For Christmas is You." Carey also released another children's book, and announced a series of concerts, two of which would be held in New York City's famed Madison Square Garden, where she promised to bring joy to audiences eager to get into the spirit. I was lucky to attend the first show on Dec. 13, which was recorded live for a special to air on CBS and Paramount+ on Dec. 20 for everyone at home to consume.

Carey didn't disappoint. Her longtime DJ Suss One opened the show with a half-hour set of old-school hip-hop and R&B tunes. She came on stage to a standing ovation at 9:45 PM, singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Dressed in a white gown with tulle, and a silver crown, Carey emerged from above, seated on a white and silver snowflake. In between songs, she sipped on hot tea, complained that the cameramen weren't getting her best angles at times, and took her time sashaying across the stage while talking about her love of Christmas. 

There were plenty of surprises. Her 11-year-old daughter Monroe joined her on stage, dressed in her own white sparkling gown and head crown, to sing their first recorded duet of "Away in a Manger." Carey teased that her son Morrocan, Monroe's twin, would be out on stage later. 

For her first of three outfit changes, Billy Porter graced the stage to perform a ballad. He also gave a message of love and hope amid the holiday season, which some find to be more difficult than joyful. 

Dressed in a tight long red gown, Carey continued, singing hits like "Oh Holy Night." Slick Rick would join her on stage along with Morrocan, who has a clear love of hip-hop, and she changed again, this time into a short white/silverish dress and silver heels, performing alongside the Rockettes with songs like "Oh Santa."

She surprised all by performing a medley of hits from her catalog that were non-holiday songs. Carey says she took a poll from fans, whom she affectionately calls Lambs, and they requested she sing a few of her biggest hits. 

And she did. The audience jammed to "Heartbreaker," "Honey," "We Belong Together," "Fantasy," and Jermaine Dupri joined her on stage for "It's Like That." She closed out the portion with "Hero." 

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During the last intermission, Drew Barrymore gave the final introduction of Carey closing out the show with "All I Want For Christmas With You." The Rockettes once again performed with the icon. Carey is set to perform once more at MSG on Dec. 16.