Mariah Carey was born and raised in New York by her mother, a former opera singer with the New York City Opera and a vocal coach, who helped Carey craft her art in singing at age four. By the time she was in junior high school, she had begun to write songs. After her high school graduation, she got her first big break, singing backup for friend Brenda K. Starr, a break that led to her signing with Columbia Records.
1990 – 1994
Mariah’s 1990 eponymous debut album, Mariah Carey launched an unparalleled unbroken string of successes. Mariah Carey has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide, was certified 8x RIAA-platinum, and yielded a record-setting four consecutive #1 singles: Vision Of Love, Love Takes Time, Someday and I Don’t Wanna Cry.
Emotions, the title track of Carey’s 1991’s quadruple-platinum album of the same name generated her fifth consecutive #1 single, placing Mariah in the Top Ten All-Time achievers of Most Consecutive #1 Hits. Emotions earned Mariah two Grammy® nominations (“Best Pop Vocal, Female” and, with Walter Afanasieff, “Best Producer”) and an American Music Award (“Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B”).
On March 17, 1992, Mariah appeared on MTV Unplugged, leading to the release of Mariah’s sixth #1 single I’ll Be Therey as well as an EP that has been certified triple platinum in the U.S. and has sold more than five million copies worldwide.
In 1993, Mariah married Sony Music Entertainment CEO and her mentor, Tommy Mottola on June 5 and released Music Box on August 31, an album that has sold more than 24 million copies worldwide, has been certified ten times RIAA platinum and generated her seventh and eighth #1 singles Dreamlover and Hero as well as the Top 10 hit Without You.
The following year, Mariah released her first-holiday album titled Merry Christmas which included the now-classic holiday song All I Want For Christmas Is You. The album had sold eight million copies worldwide shortly after its release in November 1994 and has been certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA.
1995 – 2000
Mariah’s 1995 album, Daydream, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart; generated three consecutive #1 singles — Fantasy, One Sweet Day (her duet with Boyz II Men) and Always Be My Baby (Mariah’s ninth, tenth, and eleventh #1’s) — and has been certified 10x platinum. With Daydream, she became the first female artist in history to have three studio albums to each sell in excess of eight million copies.
On May 30, 1997, after almost 4 years of marriage, Carey announced her separation from Mottola.
Mariah’s 1997 album, Butterfly, a heady sensuous mix of contemporary R&B and pop, generated the #1 hits Honey and My All (her twelfth and thirteenth #1’s). Butterfly has been certified quadruple platinum. The album’s themes revolved around Mariah’s newfound sense of liberty, independence as well as her exploration of musical creativity as a free woman.
In November 1998, Mariah released her #1’s album: a collection of 13 of her chart-topping megahits as well as four brand-new bonus recordings: When You Believe (from DreamWorks 1998 movie – “The Prince Of Egypt”),” a duet with Whitney Houston; Whenever You Call (a duet with Brian McKnight); I Still Believe; and Sweetheart (feat. Jermaine Dupri). #1’s has achieved RIAA triple platinum status.
Her 1999 release, Rainbow, featured Mariah’s 14th #1 Hot 100 single, Heartbreaker (feat. Jay-Z), which also became her 6th chart-topping R&B single.
Carey has had more #1 singles than any female artist, surpassing both the Supremes (12) and Madonna (11), and more #1’s than any currently active recording artist. She has had more #1 singles (14) than any artist during the 1990s and seen more singles (3) debut at #1 than any artist in history. With more #1 albums (4) than any female artist in the 1990’s, Mariah was the first female artist to see two of her albums (Music Box and Daydream) reach the 10 million mark in sales and is the only female artist to have eight albums certified triple-platinum or better (in Mariah’s case, her entire album catalogue has achieved RIAA multi-platinum status).
At the 1998 World Music Awards ceremony, Mariah won an award for Best Selling R&B Artist and the Legend Award for World’s Best Selling Recording Artist of the 1990’s. She won her first World Music Awards – World’s Best Selling Pop Artist, World’s Best American Recording Artist, and World’s Overall Best Performing Artist – in 1995. The following year, she was presented with trophies for World’s Best Selling R&B Female Artist of the Year, World’s Best Selling Overall Recording Female Artist of the Year, World’s Best Selling Pop Artist of the Year, and World’s Best Selling American Female Artist of the Year. Mariah was presented with the Aretha Franklin Entertainer Award and named Entertainer of the Year at the 1998 Lady Of Soul Awards.
As of September 1999, Mariah Carey had sold more than 120 million albums and singles worldwide and earned an astounding 84 RIAA gold, platinum, and multi-platinum certifications for her singles, albums, and videos. As one of the most popular recording artists of the 1990s, Mariah has provided an ongoing soundtrack to the decade.
2001 – 2005
In 2001, Mariah signed with Virgin Records, which released Glitter, the soundtrack album to the film of the same name, with Mariah in her first lead acting role. She has also been featured in the films “The Bachelor” (1999) and “Wisegirls” (2002).
In May 2002, Mariah signed an exclusive recording contract with the Universal Music Group’s Island Records. In addition, Carey has formed her own label, MonarC Music.
Mariah’s 2002 album, Charmbracelet features the songstress writing and co-producing credits. The album, which is lyrically very personal, showcases Mariah’s stunning voice, prolific songwriting and incredible versatility. This is fully evident on the first single, the sweeping epic ballad, which is a perfect example of what Mariah does best.
Carey’s ninth studio album The Emancipation Of Mimi was released in 2005 and contained contributions from producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey’s longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri. Carey said it was “very much like a party record … the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out … I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that.” Mimi became the year’s best-selling album in the U.S. with over five million copies (5xPlatinum) sold, won three Grammy Awards (including “Best Contemporary R&B Album”) and received some of Carey’s most favourable reviews in some time. The second single We Belong Together held the Hot 100’s #1 position for 14 weeks (her longest run at the top as a solo artist) and was the biggest hit of 2005 in the US., while Shake It Off made Carey the only female artist to occupy the top two positions on the Hot 100 simultaneously. became her seventeenth number-one in the US., which tied her with Elvis Presley for the most number-ones by a solo act according to Billboard magazine’s revised methodology. By this count, Carey is behind only The Beatles, who have twenty number-ones. The album became certified 6x platinum after her Grammy wins.
2006 – 2009
In mid-2006, Carey began The Adventures of Mimi Tour, which was the most successful of her career, although some dates had to be cancelled.
She also joined the cast of the indie film “Tennessee” (2008), taking the role of an aspiring singer who flees her controlling husband and joins two brothers on a journey to find their long-lost father. The movie received mixed reviews, but most of them raved about Carey’s performance and praised it as “understated and very effective.”
By spring 2007, she had begun to work on her eleventh studio album – E=MC². When she was asked about the album title’s meaning, Carey said “Einstein’s theory? Physics? Me? Hello! …Of course, I’m poking fun.” She characterized the project as “Emancipation of Mimi to the second power”, and said that she was “freer” on this album than any other.
Like her previous 2005 album, E=MC² mainly concentrates on pop and R&B but borrows hip hop, gospel and even reggae (involved in the song Cruise Control) elements. Although the album was well-received by most critics, some of them criticized it for being “a clone of The Emancipation of Mimi”.
Two weeks before the album’s release, on April 2, 2008, Touch My Body, her first single off the album, became Carey’s eighteenth #1 single on the Hot 100, pushing her past Elvis into second place for the most #1 singles among all artists in the rock era, according to Billboard magazine’s revised methodology.
In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked her at #6 on the “Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists”, making Carey the second most successful female artist (behind Madonna) in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Carey has also had notable success on international charts, though not to the same degree as in the United States.
Carey and actor/comedian/rapper Nick Cannon met while they shot Carey’s music video for her second single Bye Bye on a private island of the coast of Antigua. On April 30, 2008, they got married at her private estate on Windermere Island in The Bahamas. In October 2008, Carey was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Carey had a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler’s 2008 film “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, playing herself.
In 2009, she appeared as a social worker in “Precious”, the movie adaptation of the 1996 novel “Push by Sapphire”. The film has garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, as has Carey’s performance. Variety described her acting as “pitch-perfect”. So far Precious has won awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, receiving top awards there. In January 2010, Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance award for her role in Precious at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Carey’s twelfth studio album, Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel was released on September 25, 2009. The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics. John Bush of Allmusic called it “her most interesting album in a decade”, while Jon Caramanica from The New York Times criticized Carey’s vocal performances, decrying her overuse of her softer vocal registers at the expense of her more powerful lower and mid registers.
Commercially, the album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and became the lowest-selling studio album of her career. The album’s lead single Obsessed, became her 40th entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and her highest debut on the chart since “My All” in 1998. The song debuted at #11 and peaked at #7 on the chart and became Carey’s 27th US top-ten hit, tying her with Elton John and Janet Jackson as the fifth most top-ten hits. Within hours after the song’s release, various outlets speculated that its target was rapper Eminem, in response to his song Bagpipes From Baghdad in which he taunted Carey’s then-husband Cannon by telling him to back off and that Carey is his. According to MTV, Carey alludes to drug problems in “Obsessed”, which Eminem opened up about on his sixth studio album, Relapse released the same year. The album’s follow-up singles failed to achieve commercial success. The second single, a cover of I Want To Know What Love Is originally sung by Foreigner, peaked at #60 and the third single, H.A.T.E.U., failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100.
On December 31, 2009, Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, which visited the United States and Canada. Later it was then announced that Carey was to release two remix albums of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel; titled Angels Advocate, (an R&B remix album featuring a collection of newly remixed duets with some of Carey’s favorite artists) and MC vs JS (a dance album entirely remixed by the Jump Smokers).
2010 – present
In January 2010, “Up Out My Face” featuring Nicki Minaj and Angels Cry featuring Ne-Yo were released as the lead singles from Angels Advocate. Both albums were slated for a March 2010 release but were eventually cancelled.
Following the cancellation of the remix albums, Carey went back to the studio to start working on her second Christmas album/her 13th studio album, alongside long time project collaborators, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox.
The album eventually came out on November 2, 2010, titled Merry Christmas II You, a follow-up to her 1994 multi-platinum holiday album which included six new songs and a remix of her iconic and classic Christmas hit. . . Carey produced and recorded tracks with the Broadway producer Marc Shaiman for the album. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 56,000 copies, surpassing the opening week sales of Carey’s previous holiday album Merry Christmas of 45,000 copies 16 years prior, and making Merry Christmas II You Carey’s 16th top 10 album. The album also debuted at #1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it only the second Christmas album to top this chart and also hit number #1 on the Holiday Albums Chart.
On April 30, 2011, Carey gave birth to twins (one boy and girl) Moroccan and Monroe.
2013 – Carey got involved in writing, co-produced and recorded a song for Disney’s live-action movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful” called Almost Home. At the time, Mariah’s reaction was “When Disney approached me to be involved with the process of writing and recording the main song from Disney’s Oz The Great and Powerful, I didn’t hesitate to say yes!” Carey felt connected to the song’s message and lyrics stating that “it’s a feel-good record, evoking the feeling of reaching your home and being with people that you love… ” However, years later (in a 2018 interview), Mariah had mentioned that she ‘never liked’ the song, implying ‘it didn’t feel like her’ at all considering what she was going through during that time of her life (her separation from Cannon and American Idol stint).
2014 – Her fourteenth studio album, Me. I Am Mariah, The Elusive Chanteuse was released on May 23. Though it was critically appreciated, it became commercially unsuccessful, becoming the lowest selling release of Carey’s career. #Beautiful, a duet with Miguel was the first single from the album which reached Top 10 in Australia and Top 20 on US Billboard Hot 100. Other singles were The Art Of Letting Go, You’re Mine (Eternal) and You Don’t Know What To Do (feat. Wale); all of which were all less successful than “#Beautiful”. Although the re-release of her 2002 album Charmbracelet was issued with a Parental Advisory warning in some territories, Me. I Am Mariah… was Carey’s first studio album to bear the warning in the US.
2015 – A revamped version of/ the sixth Mariah Carey greatest hits album titled #1 to Infinity was released on May 18 – debuting at #29 on US Billboard 200 chart and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and R&B Albums chart. This compilation album included a new song and the only single (the title track of the album) Infinity, which aligned with Mariah’s #1 to Infinity Las Vegas concert residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace (which ran from May 6, 2015, and concluded on July 18, 2017) – where she performed a setlist of her #1 hits.
2018 – Caution, Mariah’s fifthteenth album came out on November 16. It debuted at #5 on the US Billboard 200 and was supported by the singles With You and A No No. Carey also performed promotional singles like GTFOand The Distance featuring Ty Dolla $ign which resulted in both songs reaching the Top 20 on the US R&B Digital Songs chart, peaking at #4 and #13 respectively.
From July 5, 2018, through to February 29, 2020, Mariah embarked on her second Vegas concert residency called ‘The Butterfly Returns’ which became the highest-grossing Las Vegas residency in 2020 by a female (according to Touring Data). This differed from her first Vegas residency as Carey performed a setlist of songs that did not reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On September 29, 2020, Mariah published her first official memoir book (written with Michaela Angela Davis) titled “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” where she dove into personal events and shared her own stories relating to her life story which shaped her into the person she is today.
On October 2, 2020, Mariah released The Rarities that included new and unreleased tracks and remixes that were originally planned to be featured in her previous studio albums. Three singles were released: Save The Day (feat. Lauryn Hill), Out Here On My Own – 2000 and Here We Go Around Again – 1990. The album peaked at #31 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US and debuted on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at #15 (also reached #44 on UK Albums chart).