Why Mariah Carey Went By ‘Debby’ Early In Her Career

Mariah Carey has a lot of different nicknames. Everyone knows her by her name, her fans call her “Mimi,” and her immense talent has led to people calling her “The Voice” and “Songbird.” You have to be a pretty big diva to live up to these names, and Carey has certainly done so, from her extravagant backstage demands to her memetic feud with Jennifer Lopez.

At the same time, she has the talent, and she’s put in the work, so her fans — dubbed Lambs — are willing to eat up whatever Mimi serves them. But Carey might not have the same nicknames she has today. Early in her career, she chose a nickname that’s nowhere near as flashy as what she’s called now. So why did she go for something less extravagant?

Mariah Carey smiling in front of a pink background
Mariah Carey | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Who is Mariah Carey?

RELATED: Mariah Carey Said Jennifer Lopez Isn’t in the Same ‘Category’ as Beyoncé

Carey’s first big hit, “Vision of Love” came in 1990, and while her rise was slow, steady promotion would turn her into a juggernaut. Just one year later she would release Emotions, and while it didn’t reach the height of her first album, it still sold massive amounts of copies and led her to become the first artist to have her first five singles hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Throughout the ’90s she continued to release pop hits, and in 1994 she released perhaps her most iconic song: “All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Later in the 1990s, she moved her music in a more R&B inspired direction. In 2001, she also released her film project: Glitter. At this time, her fan base grew as well, and Carey cultivated a strong connection with her “lambs.” In 2005, her album The Emancipation of Mimi earned her 10 Grammy nominations, and to this day she continues to release music, perform, and go into film and television ventures. Carey is someone with a lot of star power, and she knows how to use it.

What did Mariah Carey do before she was a singer?

RELATED: Mariah Carey’s Mom Was Embarrassingly Drunk At an Important Congressional Dinner

Carey was pretty young when she was first discovered, but that doesn’t mean she was always a star. Carey’s childhood in New York had some difficulties: her extended family and neighbors were hostile to her parents for being of different races, and the couple would end up divorcing in a less than amicable fashion. However, she always had a love for the arts and for singing, and her mother, Patricia, was even a vocal coach. She even had some work singing demos in high school! After graduating, she moved to New York City. For a few years, she worked as a waitress so she could pay the bills, and she even attended beauty school. Fortunately for Carey, it wasn’t long until she would be discovered, and record companies would soon be jumping to sign her.

Why did Mariah Carey go by ‘Debby’?

RELATED: Mariah Carey Explains the Big Difference Between Her Childhood and Her Children Moroccan and Monroe’s Childhood

While Carey was working as a waitress, many of her customers had trouble pronouncing her name correctly. According to The Mirror, “No one could remember my name, so I didn’t want to always have to explain oh, ‘Mariah, this is how you pronounce it.'” However, she didn’t really identify with the fake names she used, which led to some awkward situations: “So I would often make up a name, I would say my name was like Debby or something more common and then I’d forget what name I told that table so they’d be like ‘Debby?’ and I’m sitting there like listening to my demo like not even aware that someone’s calling me.” Today, we know her as Mariah — or Mimi, or whatever nickname you want to use. Maybe ‘Debby’ will enter the list of names for this iconic chanteuse.