Birth and Early Life
Mariah Carey was born in March of 1969 or 1970 in Huntington, New York. Her father was of African American and Venezuelan descent, and her mother's background is Irish. Mariah Carey's mother was a trained opera singer and vocal coach. Mariah Carey's parents separated while she was still a child, and she grew up with her mother.
Stardom With Debut Album
In high school, Mariah Carey met both Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies, musicians who would become key collaborators in her early success. After completing her first demo, she met the singer Brenda K. Starr. While attending a gala even with Brenda K. Starr, Mariah Carey got her demo tape into the hands of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola. After a search ensued, he found the young singer and instantly signed her to a recording contract.
Mariah Carey's self-titled debut album released in 1990 became a smash hit reaching #1 on the album chart and generating four consecutive #1 pop hit singles. She was the first artist since the Jackson 5 to hit #1 with her first four chart singles. Mariah Carey won Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her debut single "Vision of Love."
Mariah Carey's second album Emotions appeared in the fall of 1991. The album's title track became her fifth consecutive #1 pop hit single. A sixth #1 hit came in 1992 when Mariah Carey's "unplugged" version of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" was released.
Music Box and Daydream
Aiming for a more contemporary pop sound, Mariah Carey's album Music Box debuted at #1 on the album chart in August 1993. She had married Tommy Mottola earlier in the year. It included the #1 pop hit singles "Dreamlover" and "Hero." Music Box earned a diamond certification for album sales in excess of 10 million in the US alone.
In the period between standard studio albums, Mariah Carey released her Christmas collection Merry Christmas for the holidays in 1994. It instantly became one of the bestselling Christmas albums of all time and included the contemporary holiday standard "All I Want For Christmas Is You."
In the fall of 1995 the album Daydream incorporated hip hop influences and became Mariah Carey's second diamond certified album. The first single "Fantasy" debuted at #1 making Mariah Carey the first female artist to accomplish that feat. Its followup "One Sweet Day" featuring Boyz II Men also debuted at the top and then became the longest running #1 hit single of all time spending 16 weeks at the peak. "Always Be My Baby" was the third #1 hit from the album.
For her next album, 1997's Butterfly, Mariah Carey began to take more artistic control over her recording and worked with contemporary hip hop artists. During the album's recording she separated from Tommy Mottola. The album received critical acclaim particularly for the #1 hit lead single "Honey," but it did not sell as well as its immediate predecessors.
The 1999 album Rainbow became Mariah Carey's final album under contract with Columbia. While it included the #1 hit singles "Heartbreaker" and "Thank God I Found You," the album earned the least sales of any of her studio albums thus far.
Following her departure from Columbia, Mariah Carey signed a $100 million five album recording contract with Virgin Records. She was given complete artistic control over her projects. In the summer of 2001 following a series of unusual public appearances, Mariah Carey was hospitalized for what was described as extreme exhaustion.
The soundtrack for her film project Glitter was released on September 11, 2001, the date of the infamous terrorist attacks. It became a commercial disaster by Mariah Carey's standards. With uncertainty hanging over her future career, Virgin Records bought out her contract. Late in 2001 she signed a new contract with Island Records. In late 2002 Mariah Carey's studio album Charmbracelet was released to only moderate sales and lackluster reviews.
Mariah Carey spent much of the next two years working on her next studio album. Jermaine Dupri became a key collaborator. The result heralded a major career comeback. The Emancipation of Mimi was released in 2005 and included "We Belong Together," one of the biggest hits of Mariah Carey's career spending 14 weeks at #1, only two less than "One Sweet Day." The single "Don't Forget About Us" also hit #1. The Emancipation of Mimi earned 10 Grammy Award nominations and won three.
In 2007, Mariah Carey released her next album E=MC2. It included her 18th #1 hit single "Touch My Body." That moved Mariah Carey ahead of Elvis Presley for the position of #2 on the list of artists with the most #1 hits of all time. She trails only the Beatles.
In recent years, Mariah Carey's commercial success has faded. She served a much publicized season as a judge on American Idol in 2013 where she became involved in a notorious feud with Nicki Minaj. In that same year her single "Beautiful" with Miguel became one of the most critically acclaimed of her career and climbed inside the top 15 on the pop chart. In 2015 Mariah Carey announced a Las Vegas residency.