Mention Christmas to Mariah Carey and her eyes light up like those of a child.
"I've been celebrating Christmas like a huge event my whole life," Carey, 47, tells ESSENCE. "I just love Christmas. I just wait all year for it."
So it only makes sense that the Grammy Award-winning singer, who has been known to celebrate Christmas from October through January, has attached her name to not one but two new holiday related releases.
First up is The Star, a computer-animated Christian movie that boasts a bevy of diverse celebrity voices including Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Gina Rodriguez, Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key and Anthony Anderson. The Star arrives in theaters Nov. 17 and follows the Nativity of Jesus as told through the eyes of barn animals.
Carey sings the film's title track and even lends her voice to a hen named Rebecca. The song also includes sweet little background vocals from Carey's six-year-old twins, Moroccan and Monroe.
"They called me and said there's a movie called The Star and they told me about the incredible cast and the premise of the movie being about the first Christmas ever so I said, 'Of course,'" Carey says.
"I wanted to collaborate with my friend Marc Shaiman (Sleepless in Seattle and Hairspray). He and I have already written some songs together and he's been nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards," she adds. "This was a learning experience for me. We were writing the song and literally watching the scene where they're going to Bethlehem. The Star is an awesome movie and a chance to talk about the message and the spirit and I needed to be part of the song."
Her twins have seen The Star and love it, Carey says, and are starting to adore Christmas as much as their mom, Mimi. Perhaps it's because she includes open sleighs, real reindeer and Santa Claus.
"Some people come to visit and they're like, 'Oh, she really does this," Carey says with a chuckle. "I know people kind of got that [message] with 'All I Want for Christmas Is You,' but there are so many beautiful memories."
Meanwhile, the popularity of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" has continued to mushroom every holiday season since its debut 23 years ago. The music video for the beloved tune has been viewed more than 300 million times on YouTube and the song has earned a reported $50 million in royalties. Carey cowrote the song with Walter Afanasieff.
The songstress continues to capitalize on the popularity of the festive holiday hit and has released the animated movie offering Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You, which is now in stores.
The straight-to-DVD-and-Blu-ray release focuses on Mariah, a precocious little girl who dreams of getting a dog for Christmas. Carey does voice work on the movie alongside acting veteran Henry Winkler.
The Star premieres in theaters Nov. 17.