Mariah Carey (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and released her self-titled debut studio album, Mariah Carey. The album went multi-platinum and spawned four consecutive number one singles, on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of hit records, including Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993) and Merry Christmas (1994), established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. Daydream (1995), made music history when the second single, "One Sweet Day" a duet with Boyz II Men, spent a record sixteen weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and remains the longest-running number-one song in U.S. chart history. During the recording of the album, Carey began to deviate from her R&B and pop beginnings, and slowly traversed into hip hop. After her separation from Mottola, this musical change was evident with the release of Butterfly (1997).
Carey left Columbia in 2000, and signed a record-breaking $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records. Carey ventured into film with Glitter (2001). Before the film's release she suffered a physical and emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for severe exhaustion. Following the film's poor reception, she was bought out of her recording contract for $50 million, which led to a decline in her career. She signed a multi-million dollar contract deal with Island Records in 2002, and after an unsuccessful period, returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). Its second single "We Belong Together" became her most successful single of the 2000s, and was later named "Song of the Decade" by Billboard. Carey once again ventured into film, and starred in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009). Her role in the film was well-received, and she was awarded the "Breakthrough Performance Award" at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and Black Reel and NAACP Image Award nominations.
In a career spanning over two decades, Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In 1998, she was honored as the world's best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the World Music Awards. Carey was also named the best-selling female artist of the millennium in 2000. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is the third best-selling female artist in the United States, with 63.5 million certified albums. With the release of "Touch My Body" (2008), Carey gained her eighteenth number one single in the United States, more than any other solo artist. In 2012, Carey was ranked second on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Women in Music". Aside from her commercial accomplishments, Carey has won five Grammy Awards, 17 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, and 31 Billboard Music Awards. Referred to as the "songbird supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she is famed for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and signature use of the whistle register.
1970-87: Early life and struggles
Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, New York, on March 27, 1970. Her father, Alfred Roy, was of African American and Venezuelan (mixed-race) descent, while her mother, Patricia (née Hickey), is of white Irish descent. The last name Carey was the product of a name-change by her Venezuelan grandfather Francisco Nuñez after emigrating to New York. Patricia's father had died while she was young; however, she inherited his passion for music. She developed a career as an occasional opera singer and vocal coach, and met Alfred in 1960. As he began earning a living as an aeronautical engineer, the couple wed later that year, and moved into a small suburb in New York. After the pair's elopement, Patricia's family disowned her, due to marrying a man of color. Carey later explained that growing up, she felt a notion of neglect from her maternal family, a mark that affected her greatly: "So later I was like, 'Well, where does this leave me? Am I a bad person?' You know. It's still not that common to be a multi-racial person, but I'm happy with the combination of things that I am." During the interval of years in between Carey's older sister Allison and the singer's birth, the Carey family experienced personal struggles within the community due to their ethnicity. Carey's name was derived from the song "They Call the Wind Mariah", originally from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon. When Carey was three years old, her parents divorced due to the increasingly strenuous nature of their marriage.
After their separation, Allison moved in with her father, while the other two children remained with their mother. As the years passed, Carey would grow apart from her father, and would later stop seeing him altogether. By the age of four, Carey recalled that she had begun to sneak the radio under her covers at night, and just sing from her heart, and try and find peace within the music. During elementary school, she would excel in subjects that she enjoyed, such as literature, art and music, while not finding interest in other subjects. After several years of financial struggling, Patricia earned enough money to move her family into a stable and more affluent sector in New York. Carey had begun writing poems and adding melodies to them, thus starting as a singer-songwriter while attending Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York. Even from a young age, Carey excelled in her music, and demonstrated usage of the whistle register, though only beginning to master and control it through her training with her mother. Though opening her daughter to the world of classical opera, Patricia never pressured Carey to pursue a career in that type of genre, as she never seemed interested in that world of music. Carey recalled that she kept her singer-songwriter works a secret and noted that Patricia had "never been a pushy mom. She never said, 'Give it more of an operatic feel'. I respect opera like crazy, but it didn't influence me."
While a high school student, Carey developed a relationship with Gavin Christopher, with whom she shared musical aspirations. The song-writing duo needed an assistant who could play the keyboard: "We called someone and he couldn't come, so by accident we stumbled upon Ben [Margulies]. Ben came to the studio, and he really couldn't play the keyboards very well - he was really more of a drummer - but after that day, we kept in touch, and we sort of clicked as writers." Carey and Christopher began writing and composing songs in his father's store basement during Carey's senior year. After composing their first song together, "Here We Go Round Again", which Carey described as having a Motown-vibe, they continued writing material for a full length demo. Following her graduation from high school, Carey's mother remarried, which ultimately prompted her to move out from their apartment. She began living in a one bedroom studio in Manhattan, which she shared with four other female students. During this time, Carey worked as a waitress for various restaurants, usually getting fired after two week intervals. While requiring work to pay for her rent, Carey's mind and effort still remained with her musical ambitions, as she continued working late into the night with Margulies, in hopes of completing a demo take that could be passed on to record executives. After completing her four song demo tape, Carey attempted to pass it to music labels, but was met with failure each time. Shortly thereafter, she was introduced to rising pop singer Brenda K. Starr.
1988-92: Recording debut and career beginnings
As Carey's friendship with Starr grew, so did her interest in helping Carey succeed in the industry. On a Friday night in November 1987, Carey accompanied Starr to a record executives gala, where she handed her demo tape to Tommy Mottola, head of Columbia Records, who listened to it on his way back home. After the first two songs, he became so enamored at the sound and quality of Carey's voice that he turned around returned to the event, only to find that she had left. In what has been widely described by critics as a modern day Cinderella-like tale, after searching for Carey for two weeks, and eventually contacting her through Starr's management, he immediately signed her and began mapping out her debut into mainstream music. While she maintained that she wanted to continue working with Margulies, Mottola enlisted top producers of the time, including Ric Wake, Narada Michael Walden and Rhett Lawrence. Mottola and the staff at Columbia had planned to market Carey as the main female pop artist on their roster, competing with the likes of Whitney Houston and Madonna, who were signed to Arista and Sire Records respectively. After the completion of the album, titled Mariah Carey, Columbia spent an upward of $1 million to promote it. Though opening with weak sales, the album eventually reached the top of the Billboard 200, after Carey's exposure at the 33rd annual Grammy Awards. Mariah Carey stayed atop the charts for eleven consecutive weeks, and she won the Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance trophies for her single "Vision of Love". The album yielded an additional three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, following the four week number-one run of "Vision of Love". Carey became the first artist since The Jackson 5 to have their first four singles reach number one. Mariah Carey finished as the best-selling album in the United States of 1991, while totaling sales of over 15 million copies.
Carey began recording her second studio album, eventually titled Emotions, in 1991. The album, as Carey described it, paid homage to Motown soul music, as she felt the need to pay tribute to the type of music and genre that truly influenced her as a struggling child. For the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, who only had a small role on her debut, as well as Clivillés and Cole, from the dance group [[C+C Music Factory]]. However, Carey's relationship with Margulies deteriorated over a contract Carey had signed prior to her signing with Columbia, agreeing to split not only the songwriting royalties from the songs, but half of her earnings as well. However, when the time came to write music for Emotions, Sony officials made it clear he would only be paid the fair amount given to co-writers on an album. Subsequently, Margulies filed a lawsuit against Sony which ultimately led to their parting of ways. On September 17, 1991, Emotions was released around the world, and was accepted by critics as a more mature album than its predecessor. While praised for Carey's improved songwriting, production and new sound, the album was criticized for its material, which many felt was noticeably weaker than her debut. Though the album managed sales of over eight million copies globally, Emotions failed to reach the commercial and critical heights of its predecessor.
As they had done after the release of her debut, critics once again questioned whether Carey would embark on a world tour in promotion for her material. Although Carey explained that due to her stage fright, and the general strenuous nature of her songs, a tour sounded very daunting, speculation grew that Carey was a "studio worm", and that she wasn't capable of producing the perfect pitch and 5-octave vocal range for which she was known. In hopes of putting any claims of her being a manufactured artist to rest, Carey and Walter Afanasieff decided to book an appearance on MTV Unplugged, a television program aired by MTV. The show's purpose was to present name artists, and feature them "unplugged" or stripped of studio equipment. While Carey felt strongly of her more soulful and powerful songs, it was decided that her most popular content to that point would be included. Days prior to the show's taping, Carey and Afanasieff thought of adding a cover version of an older song, in order to provide something different and unexpected. They chose "I'll Be There", a song made popular by The Jackson 5 in 1970, rehearsing it few times before the night of the show. On March 16, 1992, Carey recorded a seven-piece set-list at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. The revue was met with critical acclaim, leading to it being aired over three times as often as an average episode would. The revue's success tempted Sony officials to use it as some form of an album. Sony decided to release it as an EP, selling for a reduced price due to its shorter length. The EP proved to be a success, contrary to critics and speculations that Carey was just a studio artist, and was given a triple-Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and managed Gold and Platinum certifications in several European markets.
1993-96: First marriage, Music Box and Daydream
During early 1993, Carey began working on her third studio album, Music Box. After Emotions failed to achieve the commercial heights of her debut album, Carey and Columbia came to the agreement that the next album would contain a more pop influenced sound, in order to appeal to a wider audience. During Carey's writing sessions, she began working mostly with Afanasieff, with whom she co-wrote and produced most of Music Box. During the album's recording, Carey and Mottola became romantically involved. They wed in a lavish ceremony on June 5, 1993, with several high profile guests including Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Gloria Estefan and Ozzy Osbourne. On August 31, Music Box was released around the world, debuting at number-one on the Billboard 200. The album was met with mixed reception from music critics; while many praised the album's pop influence and strong content, others felt that Carey made less usage of her acclaimed vocal range. Ron Wynn from Allmusic described Carey's different form of singing on the album: "It was wise for Carey to display other elements of her approach, but sometimes excessive spirit is preferable to an absence of passion." The album's second single, "Hero", would eventually come to be one of Carey's most popular and inspirational songs of her career. The song became Carey's eighth chart topper in the United States, and began expanding Carey's popularity throughout Europe. With the release of the album's third single, Carey achieved several career milestones. Her cover of Badfinger's "Without You" became her first number one single in Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Music Box spent prolonged periods at number one on the album charts of several countries, and eventually became one of the best-selling albums of all time, with worldwide sales of over 32 million copies. After declining to tour for her past two albums, Carey agreed to embark on a short stateside string of concerts, titled the Music Box Tour. Spanning only six dates across North America, the short but successful tour was a large step for Carey, who dreaded the hassle of touring. Following Music Box, Carey took a relatively large period of time away from the public eye, and began working on an unknown project throughout 1994. The project was kept very secretive until Billboard announced on their October issue, that Carey would release a holiday album later that year. In late 1994, Carey recorded a duet with Luther Vandross; a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's "Endless Love". By that point, Columbia felt Carey had already established herself as a pop singer, and vocalist, but wanted to try and feature her as more of an entertainer. Through the release of Merry Christmas, Columbia hoped that audiences would buy Carey's material solely for her name and reputation, and squash fears of her being a typical pop singer. The album was released on November 1, 1994, on the same day that the album's first single, "All I Want for Christmas Is You", was released. The album eventually became the best-selling Christmas album of all time, with global sales reaching over 15 million copies. Additionally, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was critically lauded, and is considered "one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon." Rolling Stone described it as a "holiday standard", and ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list. Commercially, it became the best-selling holiday ringtone of all time, and the best-selling single by a non-Asian artist in Japan, selling over 2.1 million units (both ringtone and digital download). By the end of the holiday season of 1994, Carey and Afanasieff had already begun writing material for her next studio album, which would be released in the fall of the following year.
Released on October 3, 1995, Daydream combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. The album's second single, "One Sweet Day" was inspired by the death of Cole, as well as her sister Allison, who had contracted AIDS. The song remained atop the Hot 100 for a record-breaking sixteen weeks, and became the longest running number one song in history. Daydream became her biggest-selling album in the United States, and became her second album to be certified Diamond by the RIAA, following Music Box. The album again was the best-seller by an international artist in Japan, shifting over 2.2 million copies, and eventually reaching global sales of over 25 million units. Critically, the album was heralded as Carey's best to date; The New York Times named it as one of 1995's best albums, and wrote, "best cuts bring R&B candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement [...] Carey's songwriting has taken a leap forward and become more relaxed, sexier and less reliant on thudding clichés." Carey once again opted to embark on a short world tour titled Daydream World Tour. It had seven dates, three in Japan and four throughout Europe. When tickets went on sale, Carey set records when all 150,000 tickets for her three shows at Japan's largest stadium, Tokyo Dome, sold out in under three hours, breaking the previous record held by The Rolling Stones. Due to the album's success, Carey won two awards at the American Music Awards for her solo efforts: Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist. Daydream and its singles were respectively nominated in six categories at the 38th Grammy Awards. Carey, along with Boyz II Men, opened the event with a performance of "One Sweet Day". However, Carey did not receive any award, prompting her to comment "What can you do? I will never be disappointed again. After I sat through the whole show and didn't win once, I can handle anything." In 1995, due to Daydreams enormous Japanese sales, Billboard declared Carey the "Overseas Artist of the Year" in Japan.
1997-2000: New image and independence, Butterfly and Rainbow
After the release of Daydream and the success that followed, Carey began focusing on her personal life, which was a constant struggle at the time. Carey's relationship with Mottola began to deteriorate, due to their growing creative differences in terms of her albums, as well as his controlling nature. With each following album, and her continual established fame and popularity, Carey began to take more initiative and control with her music, and started infusing more genres into her work. During mid-1997, Carey was well underway, writing and recording material for her next album, Butterfly (1997). She sought to work with other producers and writers other than Afansieff, such as Sean Combs, Kamaal Fareed, Missy Elliott and Jean Claude Oliver and Samuel Barnes from Trackmasters. During the album's recording, Carey and Mottola separated, with Carey citing it as her way of achieving freedom, and a new lease on life. Aside from the album's different approach, critics took notice of Carey's altered style of singing, which she describe as breathy vocals. Her new-found style of singing was met with mixed reception; some critics felt is was a sign of maturity, that she didn't feel the need to always show off her upper range, while others felt it was a sign of her weakening and waning voice. The album's lead single, "Honey", and its accompanying music video, introduced a more overtly sexual image than Carey had ever demonstrated, and furthered reports of her freedom from Mottola. Carey stated that Butterfly marked the point when she attained full creative control over her music. However, she added, "I don't think that it's that much of a departure from what I've done in the past [...] It's not like I went psycho and thought I would be a rapper. Personally, this album is about doing whatever the hell I wanted to do." Growing creative differences with producer Afanasieff continued, and eventually ended their working relationship, after collaborating on most of Carey's material. Reviews for Butterfly were generally positive: Rolling Stone wrote, "It's not as if Carey has totally dispensed with her old saccharine, Houston-style balladry [...] but the predominant mood of 'Butterfly' is one of coolly erotic reverie. [... Except "Outside" the album sounds] very 1997. [...] Carey has spread her wings and she's ready to fly", Allmusic editor, Stephen Thomas Erlewine described Carey's vocals as "sultrier and more controlled than ever", and heralded Butterfly as her "best record and illustrates that Carey continues to improve and refine her music, which makes her a rarity among her '90s peers." The album was a commercial success, although not to the degree of her previous three albums.
Toward the turn of the millennium, Carey began developing other projects, many of which she wasn't able to during her marriage. On April 14, 1998, Carey partook in the VH1 Divas benefit concert, where she sang alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan and Carole King. Carey had begun developing a film project All That Glitters, later re-titled to simply Glitter, and intended her songwriting to other projects, such as Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). After Glitter fell into developmental hell, Carey postponed the project, and began writing material for a new album. The executives at Sony Music, the parent company of Carey's label Columbia, wanted her to prepare a greatest hits collection in time for the commercially favorable holiday season. However, they disagreed as to what content and singles should constitute the album. Sony wanted to release an album that featured her number one singles in the United States, and her international chart toppers on the European versions, void of any new material, while Carey felt that a compilation album should reflect on her most personal songs, not just her most commercial. She felt that not including any new material would result in cheating her fans, therefore including four new songs that she had recorded. While compromised, Carey often expressed distaste towards the album's song selection, expressing her disappointment in the omission of her "favorite songs". The album titled, #1's (1998), featured a duet with Whitney Houston, "When You Believe", and was included on the soundtrack for The Prince of Egypt (1998). During the development of All That Glitters, Carey had been introduced to DreamWorks producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who asked her if she would record the song "When You Believe" for the soundtrack to the animated film The Prince of Egypt. In an interview with Ebony, Houston described working with Carey, as well as their growing friendship: "Mariah and I got along very great. We had never talked and never sang together before. We just had a chance for camaraderie, singer-to-singer, artist-to-artist, that kind of thing. We just laughed and talked and laughed and talked and sang in between that ... It's good to know that two ladies of soul and music can still be friends." #1's became a phenomenon in Japan, selling over one million copies in its opening week, and placing as the only international artist to accomplish this feat. When describing Carey's popularity in Japan throughout the 1990s, author Chris Nickson compared it to Beatlemania in the 1960s. The album sold over 3.25 million copies in Japan after only the first three months, and holds the record as the best-selling album by a non-Asian artist, while amassing global sales of over 17 million copies.
During the spring of 1999, Carey began working on the final album of her record contract with Sony, her ex-husband's label. During this time, Carey's strained relationship with Sony affected her work with writing partner Afanasieff, who had worked extensively with Carey throughout the first half of her career. She felt Mottola was trying to separate her from Afanasieff, in hopes of keeping their relationship permanently strained. Due to the pressure and the awkward relationship Carey had now developed with Sony, she completed the album in a period of three months in the summer of 1999, quicker than any of her other albums. The album, titled Rainbow (1999), found Carey once again working with a new array of music producers and songwriters, such as Jay-Z and DJ Clue. Carey also wrote two ballads with David Foster and Diane Warren, whom she seemingly used to replace Afanasieff. Rainbow was released on November 2, 1999, to the highest first week sales of her career at the time, however debuting at number two on the Billboard 200. Throughout early-2000, Carey's troubled relationship with Columbia grew, as they halted promotion after the album's first two singles. They felt Rainbow didn't have any strong single to be released, whereas Carey wanted a ballad regarding personal and inner strength released. The difference in opinion led to a very public feud, as Carey began posting messages on her webpage in early and mid-2000, telling fans inside information on the dispute, as well as instructing them to request "Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" on radio stations. One of the messages Carey left on her page read: "Basically, a lot of you know the political situation in my professional career is not positive. It's been really, really hard. I don't even know if this message is going to get to you because I don't know if they want you to hear this. I'm getting a lot of negative feedback from certain corporate people. But I am not willing to give up." Fearing to lose their label's highest seller, Sony chose to release the song. Carey, initially content with the agreement, soon found out that the song had only been given a very limited and low-promotion release, which made charting extremely difficult and unlikely. Critical reception of Rainbow was generally enthusiastic, with the Sunday Herald saying that the album "sees her impressively tottering between soul ballads and collaborations with R&B heavyweights like Snoop Doggy Dogg and Usher [...] It's a polished collection of pop-soul." Vibe magazine expressed similar sentiments, writing, "She pulls out all stops [...] Rainbow will garner even more adoration". Though a commercial success, Rainbow became Carey's lowest selling album to that point in her career.
2001-04: Glitter, Charmbracelet; personal and professional struggles
After she received Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium, Carey parted from Columbia and signed a record-breaking $100 million five-album recording contract with Virgin Records (EMI Records), Carey was given full conceptual and creative control over the project. She opted to record an album partly mixed with 1980s influenced disco and other similar genres, in order to go hand-in-hand with the film's setting. She often stated that Columbia had regarded her as a commodity, with her separation from Mottola exacerbating her relations with label executives. Just a few months later, in July 2001, it was widely reported that Carey had suffered a physical and emotional breakdown. She had left messages on her website that complained of being overworked, and her relationship with the Latin icon Luis Miguel ended. In an interview the following year, she said, "I was with people who didn't really know me and I had no personal assistant. I'd do interviews all day long and get two hours of sleep a night, if that." Due to the pressure from the media, her heavy work schedule and the split from Miguel, Carey began posting a series of disturbing messages on her official website, and displayed erratic behavior on several live promotional outings. On July 19, 2001, Carey made a surprise appearance on the MTV program Total Request Live (TRL). As the show's host Carson Daly began taping following a commercial break, Carey came out pushing an ice cream cart while wearing a large men's shirt, and began a striptease, in which she shed her shirt to reveal a tight yellow and green ensemble. While she later revealed that Daly was aware of her presence in the building prior to her appearance, Carey's appearance on TRL garnered strong media attention. Only days later, Carey began posting irregular voice notes and messages on her official website: "I'm trying to understand things in life right now and so I really don't feel that I should be doing music right now. What I'd like to do is just a take a little break or at least get one night of sleep without someone popping up about a video. All I really want is [to] just be me and that's what I should have done in the first place ... I don't say this much but guess what, I don't take care of myself." Following the quick removal of the messages, Berger commented that Carey had been "obviously exhausted and not thinking clearly" when she posted the letters.
On July 26, she was suddenly hospitalized, citing "extreme exhaustion" and a "physical and emotional breakdown". Carey was inducted at an un-disclosed hospital in Connecticut, and remained hospitalized and under doctor's care for two weeks, followed by an extended absence from the public. Following the heavy media coverage surrounding Carey's publicized breakdown and hospitalization, Virgin Records and 20th Century Fox delayed the release of both Glitter, as well as its soundtrack of the same name. Consequently, critics suggested that in delaying Glitter, hype for the project would have largely subsided, and would possibly hurt both ticket and album sales. When discussing the project's weak commercial reaction, Carey blamed both her frame of mind during the time of its release, its postponement, as well as the soundtrack having been released on September 11. Critics panned Glitter, as well as its accompanying soundtrack; both were unsuccessful commercially. The accompanying soundtrack album, Glitter, became Carey's lowest-selling album to that point. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch dismissed it as "an absolute mess that'll go down as an annoying blemish on a career that, while not always critically heralded, was at least nearly consistently successful." Following the negative cloud that was ensuing Carey's personal life at the time, as well as the project's poor reception, her unprecedented $100 million five-album record deal with Virgin Records (EMI Records) was bought out for $50 million. Soon after, Carey flew to Capri, Italy for a period of five months, in which she began writing material for her new album, stemming from all the personal experiences she had endured throughout the past year. Carey later said that her time at Virgin was "a complete and total stress-fest [...] I made a total snap decision which was based on money and I never make decisions based on money. I learned a big lesson from that." Later that year, she signed a contract with Island Records, valued at more than $24 million, and launched the record label MonarC. To add further to Carey's emotional burdens, her father, with whom she had little contact since childhood, died of cancer that year.