Mariah Carey, busy promoting her new album  Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, says her Irish mother Patricia Carey kept her going when she was trying to break into the music business.

Mariah's parents divorced when she was a child and she moved 13 times with her mother before settling down in a suburb on Long Island.

She says her mom, nee Hickey, would say "not if but when" Mariah would make it.

Her mother's backing was important for the young Mariah.

Her father told her to concentrate on her maths while her teachers felt she was wasting her time.

Still, Mariah persevered.

While still a teenager Carey started recording even while she was holding down a job in a restuarant.

Her  musician friends couldn't understand why she was working so hard.

She said she looked at them, with nowhere to go in the middle of the day and thought: "Because I don't want to be like you."

Mariah also says her mixed race background, her mother is Irish-American and her father Venezualan-African-American, was behind her drive to succeed.

"I understand people want to hold on to their roots. But for me, I was a complete nonentity because of it. Maybe that was part of my drive to succeed. I'll become accepted," she told the Guardian.

"White people have a difficult time with [mixed race]. It's like, my mother's white – she's so Irish, she loves Ireland, she's like, yay, Ireland! Waving the flag and singing When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. And that's great. I appreciate that and respect it.

"But there's a whole other side of me that makes me who I am and makes people uncomfortable. My father identified as a black man. No one asked him because he was clearly black. But people always ask me. If we were together, people would look at us in a really strange way. It sucked. As a little girl I had blond hair and they'd look at me, look at him, and be disgusted."