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Marc Anthony: On A Roll

Every Thursday morning Early Show Contributor Barbara Alvarez will bring her Barbwire report. This is her special look at life behind the scenes with both the rich and famous - and the not so rich and famous.

Marc Anthony's not just hot; he's on fire. He's out with a new album and a single that's climbing the charts with a bullet.

So maybe you're just finding out about him but he's been around. He's anything but an overnight success story.

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Anthony has a whole list of accomplishments besides his music. Those who know him say his secret is he puts his heart into everything he does.

"It's always about what I'm doing," he says. "It could be buying bread. I'm the most passionate bread buyer. That's just how I am."

"I went to get bread and you know what? I'm coming home with bread," he says.

He started singing at his kitchen table at the age of 3. He did background studio vocals, wrote and produced for Menudo and got his first recording contract before finishing high school.

His career really took off when he put a fresh spin on an old Latin genre, earning him the title, "King of Salsa."

He co-starred on Broadway in Paul Simon's controversial musical The Capeman and has had several critically acclaimed film roles including one in the new Martin Scorsese film Bringing Out the Dead.

Backstage at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, as he was getting ready to debut some new songs, it was easy to feel the energy.

"You haven't seen anything yet, man. There is nothing like a New York crowd," Anthony declares.

Before he goes onstage, the star says he prepares by thinking about the most peaceful things.

"Not splitting myself 12 different ways you know? I'm not going to start thinking about mortgages or cars, or whether my car broke down. No, [I] just block all that out," he says.

And on stage while performing, Anthony feeds off the energy of his fans.

Yet off stage, the fans, the money, the success and fame will not change him.

"You know what? Why mother wouldn't have it any other way. She'd smack the crap out of me," he says, laughing.

Part of what prepared Anthony for fame and a multicultural music career was growing up poor in New York's East Harlem.

But what he remembers most is the music.

"I remember walking through the project, and everybody in the project for some reason expresses themselves by turning their speakers out of their windows and blasting it," he says.

"So on a hot summer day you'd hear anthing from Gloria Gaynor to ABBA to Air Supply to the Fania All-Stars. So that's where I was raised. I am all of that," he explains.

He's a hero now to the people of this neighborhood. And with all he's achieved, you'd think Anthony wouldn't have a care in the world.

But he is deeply troubled by the prejudice he feels in spite of his success or because of his success.

"I get asked questions like, 'How do you feel about American women?' I'm like, 'I'm American! Whoa. What? Who do you think you're looking at?' That's what I want to know,Â" he says.

"I'm proud to be Puerto Rican. I'm proud to be American. I was born and raised in New York City. When Barbara Streisand performs, they don't say 'Barbara Streisand, the Jewish performer, ladies and gentleman,'" he notes.

"It feels a certain way when they say 'Puerto Rican singer Marc Anthony.Â' I don't like the way it feels," he adds.

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