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Mariah Carey is a recording superstar, a songwriter, producer, actress, wife and now mother to newborn twins. Thus far, she has sold over 200 million records in an awe inspiring her twenty-year career.
Mariah Carey was born on Long Island in March 1969 to mixed heritage. Her unusual looks are down to Irish American, Afro-Venezuelan and African-American genes. She was exposed to music early in her childhood via her mother who was a former opera singer and vocal coach. As a young child, she tried to imitate her mother’s voice by singing along to Verdi operas. She began work as a demo singer in her early teens When she graduated high school, moved to New York to try to break into the music industry.
A chance meeting at a party in 1988 was to change Carey’s professional and personal life. At the party, one of the singer’s Carey sang backing vocals for, Brenda K. Starr, bumped into Tommy Mottola, a Columbia Records executive, and gave him a demo tape of Carey. In true fairy-tale fashion, Mottola tracked down the singer and gave her a recording contract and subsequently fell in love and married her.
Carey’s self-titled debut album was released in 1990. She co-wrote most of the tracks on the album, something she would continue to do throughout her career. The album was an astonishing success, turning Carey into an overnight star. The album reached number one in the Billboard album charts and the four singles released also made it to the top of the charts, including “Vision of Love” which won Carey a Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Her second album, “Emotions”, was released barely a year later and had a more soul and Motown feel. However, it didn’t achieve the commercial or critical success of her first record although the title single made it to number one, making her the first recording artist to have five number one singles from her first five releases.
In 1993, following her marriage to Mottola, Carey released her third and most successful album to date. Singles from “Music Box” made it to the top of the US charts, and gave Carey her first UK number one with a cover of “Without You”. Despite dividing critics between those who admired her work and those who thought the album was passionless, the album sold well and remained on the US Billboard album charts for an astonishing 128 weeks. One of the singles from the album was originally written for a movie soundtrack but upon hearing Carey sing “Hero”, Mottola refused to let her release the song to the film company and insisted she take the song to market herself.
Carey changed direction in late 1994 by releasing a Christmas album, which produced one of her best known, and best loved recordings in “All I Want for Christmas is You.” It remains one of the most successful Christmas records in recording history.
Carey’s next studio album was “Daydream” in 1995 that combined pop with R&B and hip-hop influences. It rocked to the top of the charts, outperforming her earlier releases in terms of album and single sales. “One Sweet Day” which Carey recorded with Boyz II Men spent a total of four months at the number one spot in the US charts.
Whilst professionally Carey was on top of the world, personally it was a different story. She separated from Mottola in 1997 and divorced him the following year claiming she felt trapped in the relationship. Following the break-up, Carey changed track with her next album release, “Butterfly” on which she worked with various rapper and hip-hop producers. The critics generally liked the album and although it did not do as well commercially as her previous ventures, it did give the singer her 13th number one single, with “My All”.
At the end of the decade, Carey released her seventh album, “Rainbow”. The single from the album, “Thank God I Found You” went straight to the top of the charts and made Carey the only artist to have a number one single in each year of the decade. But critically and commercially, the album didn’t do so well although Carey tried to brush off the criticism by saying “I get a lot of negative feedback from certain corporate people”.
The next few years were not kind to the artist. Firstly, her film venture, “Glitter” bombed at the box office, then she signed a short-lived contract with EMI’s Virgin Records and finally, in July 2001, she was reported to have suffered an emotional breakdown, leaving incoherent messages on her website. However, ever the trooper, Carey bounced back from the setbacks by leaving her contract with Virgin and signing with Island Records and launching her own label, “MonarC”.
Her comeback album was called “Charmbracelet” and despite negative criticism, she hit the road to promote the album. It was her 2005 release, “The Emancipation of Mimi” that saw Carey return to the success of her earlier recording career. Not only did the album become the best selling US album of the year but it also won her three Grammy Awards. The single, “We Belong Together” stayed at the top of the US singles chart for a massive 14 weeks and its follow-up simultaneously reached number two, making her the first recording artist to have a number one and number two chart single.
Her eleventh album, “E=MC²” was principally a pop album, although it borrowed heavily from gospel and hip-hop. The single, “Touch My Body” gave Carey her eighteenth number one single but it was whilst recording the video for her second single from the album that Carey’s life changed again. She met her second husband, actor and rapper Nick Cannon. They married shortly after meeting and despite critics saying it would not last and that the decade-younger Cannon would leave her, the couple recently celebrated their third anniversary on the day Carey gave birth to their twins.
Mariah first turned her hand to acting in the 1999 romantic comedy, “The Bachelor” but it was her 2001 venture, “Glitter” that really caught the movie critics eye, and for all the wrong reasons. In the semi-autobiographical film, Carey plays a young singer who is seeking fame and fortune. The film cost over $22 million to make and barely made a quarter of that back in ticket sales. The accompanying album fared no better and became Carey’s worst showing on the Billboard album charts.
The following year, Carey appeared as a waitress in a small independent film called “WiseGirls”. The critics were more favourable to her acting talent but that did not stop the film going straight to TV without a cinema release. Over the next few years, Mariah dipped her toes back into the acting game, taking small roles in “State Property: Blood on the Streets” and “Tennessee”. It was not until her 2009 outing in “Precious” that the world woke up to her acting talent, playing the role of a kind and supporting social worker. Critics loved her performance and in early 2010, she was awarded the Palm Springs International Film Festival “Breakthrough Actress Performance”. There is no news on whether Carey plans to return to acting but despite a shaky start, she has proved she is more than just a singer when it comes to the movie industry.
In September 2009, Carey released “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” which reached number three on the US album chart. Neither the album nor the singles were commercially successful in terms of Carey’s early work although Mariah did go out on the road to publicise the album.
Mariah released another Christmas album in November 2010. “Merry Christmas II You” reached the top of the charts and giving Carey her 16th top 10 album of her career. The previous month, Carey revealed that she was expecting twins with Cannon, fulfilling a life-long ambition to become a mother.
As Mariah Carey settles into motherhood, she shows no signs of slowing down. Her husband revealed that she has already begun work on a new album, inspired by her pregnancy and the birth of her twins. It turns out that when six months pregnant she made it into the recording studio to record a duet with Tony Bennett for his upcoming album. Carey has experienced the highs and lows of the music industry, and has come back even stronger. She might occasionally act like a diva, but Mariah has earned that right to be a diva the only right way there is: The hard way through sheer hard work.