Mariah Carey and Luciano Pavarotti come from very different worlds but they make one hell of a team, as seen in their epic performance of “Hero”, which hits you right in the feels. The poignant ballad was a hit for Carey in the ‘90s, but fans have never heard it like this, with the incomparable Pavarotti adding his golden touch.
The pair performed the duet at a Pavarotti & Friends concert in Novi Sad park in Moderna, Italy. Carey sang the opening verse flawlessly and with a whole lotta heart, while Pavarotti sang in Italian for the second verse as Carey sang a tasteful backing part. Pavarotti’s tenor vocals added a huge gravitas and really elevated the power of the song, perfectly complementing Carey’s feminine energy. You can check out the performance below, which has been viewed 9.8 million times on YouTube.
The duet is also notable as we get to hear the hit with completely different instrumentation. The pop and R&B groove on the studio version is replaced by an epic arrangement provided by a full orchestra, as well as a contemporary rhythm section that helps keep the song pushing forward.
Carey had nothing but good things to say about working with the famous tenor, commenting “Pavarotti’s a legend. His voice is one of the most incredible ever, so I was honoured when he asked me to perform with him. Music has a universal voice and as there are so many people in need, particularly now, it’s an important time for artists to get together, not only to raise money but also awareness for great causes.” You can hear the original Carey arrangement of “Hero” in the video below.
Pavarotti & Friends was a series of benefit concerts organised by the Italian tenor and performed annually over 10 years in his hometown of Moderna. The concerts featured a huge list of A-list talent over the years, and the proceeds were donated to causes such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and War Child International.
Fans really got a kick out of watching the two icons sing together, adding comments beneath the video such as “The way this performance unites two different languages and still feels like one is so poetic and beautiful,” and “This is the first time I see a pop artist singing along with Pavarotti without being overshadowed by him.” “Hero” was released as Carey’s second single from her third studio album Music Box. The song became a Billboard Hot 100 number one hit for the pop star, although curiously she almost passed on the song.
Carey and Walter Afanasieff co-wrote and produced “Hero” together, but the pop star was initially unhappy with the style and planned to offer it to Gloria Estefan instead. However a Sony executive convinced her to keep working on the song, and after she reworked the lyrics to fit her personality, she completed the recording herself. The song was subsequently featured on the 1992 comedy-drama film Hero, which starred Dustin Hoffman.