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Mariah before breakdown -- 'It all seems like one continuous day'

Carey at a promotional event in Long Island, New York, just days before she was admitted to a hospital.  

By Shanon Cook

(CNN) -- America's warbling wonder, Mariah Carey, shocked her fans last month when she suddenly retreated from the limelight and sought clinical care.

The 31-year-old singer suffered an "emotional and physical breakdown" which led to her admission to a New York hospital on July 25, her publicist said.

Her hospital admission underscored just how busy Carey's life had become, a fact to which she had alluded days earlier in a World Beat interview.

At a promotional event in Long Island, New York, Carey talked openly about her passion for music and her frustrations with the music business. While she came across on the taped interview as a smiling, composed professional, Carey also showed signs of fatigue, sighing deeply between answers.

CNN's Andrea Mineo spoke with Carey recently about what her music means to the singer (August 13)

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Celebrities struggle with burnout  

"The funny thing is, when I realize how young I was when I first started in this business, and how it was all crazy and nothing seemed real; I sort of haven't taken a break since then," she said. "So it all seems like one continuous day."

At one point during the interview she put her hands to her temples.

"I'm thinking of a million things," she said. "I didn't know we were doing this (interview)... The fans are waiting ... and I don't want to upset everybody."

Maintaining 'Glitter'

Carey has always stressed keeping her fans happy, and that has paid off immensely: She was the past decade's top-selling female artist. Carey signed her first record contract at 17, and has a string of 15 top hits, plus more than 80 million in global album sales.

After a formidable track record with Columbia Records, Carey recently signed an $8 million dollar, four-album deal with Virgin Records.

She also took on a new title -- actress.

Carey: "I've spent so much time working."  

Carey stars in "Glitter," a film about a young singer hoping to hit the big time. The Twentieth Century Fox-distributed movie was to have opened August 24, but has been moved back to September 21 to allow Carey more time to recuperate. She also wrote, recorded and produced the film's soundtrack.

She's also starring in "Wise Girls," an independent film about a waitress who works in an eatery owned by gangsters.That movie is slated for release next year.

Her friends told her she was "crazy" for taking on the "Wise Girls" project in the middle of production for "Glitter," Carey said. But the extra work wasn't too much, she told World Beat.

"Right now, it's about expressing myself as a creative person and so I just feel like there's no pressure," she said. "It's not about the charts -- it's not about that. It's about me being in a place that's free and creative."

Yet Carey's breakdown suggests things were not as free as she would have liked. She spent two weeks under supervised care and canceled all public engagements, including a headline appearance at MTV's 20th birthday celebration on August 1.

Carey was "feeling better," had been released from the hospital, and would be resting with her mother at an undisclosed location, her publicist said.

Singing, talking

Mariah has been singing since she was four years old.  

Carey's mother, a former opera singer, introduced her daughter to singing when she was 4.

"Basically, I started singing when I started talking," Carey said. "Music has just been my saving grace my whole life."

Carey's first single with Virgin, "Loverboy," did not match the success of her previous hits. It hovered around the No. 60 mark of the United States' singles charts until a huge price cut boosted it to No. 2.

"I feel like I definitely have grown musically since I first began," she said. "But also, some of the songs I wrote on the first album -- I wrote those songs in high school and there are certain songs that I still love and think are some of the best things I've done.

"But now that I have more control over what I do as a creative entity, I just feel like it's more fun and it's a great way to release a lot of tension. Music in general has always been that for me."

For now, though, according to her friends and family, rest and relaxation are the orders of the day for this songbird.

• Mariah Carey

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