Carey performing on Good Morning America, May 24, 2013
|Born||March 27, 1969 or 1970 (sources differ) (44 or 43 years old)
Huntington, New York, U.S.
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, philanthropist|
|Labels||CBS, Columbia, Virgin, Island|
|Associated acts||Brenda K. Starr, Trey Lorenz, Knoc-turn'al, Allure, Da Brat, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, Jermaine Dupri, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Ne-Yo, Miguel|
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, and philanthropist. Under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, Carey released her self-titled debut studio album Mariah Carey in 1990; it 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 and success with hit records Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), and Merry Christmas (1994), Carey was established as Columbia's highest-selling act. Daydream (1995) made music history when its 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. This musical change became evident with the release of Butterfly (1997), at which time Carey had separated from Mottola.
Carey left Columbia in 2000, and signed a $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records. Before the release of her first feature film Glitter (2001), 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 with a well-received supporting role in Precious (2009); 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.
- 1 Life and career
- 1.1 1970–87: Early life and struggles
- 1.2 1988–92: Recording debut and career beginnings
- 1.3 1993–96: First marriage, Music Box and Daydream
- 1.4 1997–2000: New image and independence, Butterfly and Rainbow
- 1.5 2001–04: Glitter, Charmbracelet; personal and professional struggles
- 1.6 2005–07: Return to prominence with The Emancipation of Mimi
- 1.7 2008–10: E=MC², second marriage, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, and acting breakthrough
- 1.8 2010–11: Merry Christmas II You and motherhood
- 1.9 2012–present: American Idol and The Art of Letting Go
- 2 Artistry
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Honors and awards
- 5 Philanthropy and other activities
- 6 Filmography
- 7 Discography
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 External links
Life and career
1970–87: Early life and struggles
Mariah Carey was born on Long Island, in Huntington, New York. Her father, Alfred Roy, was of African American and Venezuelan (including Afro-Venezuelan) 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 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 Alison 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 Maria", 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, Alison 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 struggles, 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 introducing her daughter to the world of classical opera, Patricia never pressured Carey to pursue a career in the 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 songwriting 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 the basement of his father's store 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. She began living in a one-bedroom apartment 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 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 Starr's friendship with Carey grew, so did her interest in helping Carey succeed in the industry. On a Friday night in December 1988, 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 and 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 her debut album, titled Mariah Carey, Columbia spent 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 awards 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 in 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 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 more than 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 David Cole, as well as her sister Alison, who had contracted AIDS. The song remained atop the Hot 100 for a 16 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, shipping 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 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 Daydream's 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 Afanasieff, 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 described 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 did not 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 one of her "best records 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 $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 $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.
In 2002, Carey was cast in the independent film, WiseGirls, alongside Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters, who co-starred as waitresses at a mobster-operated restaurant. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and received generally negative critical response, though Carey's portrayal of the character was praised; Roger Friedman of Fox News referred to her as "a Thelma Ritter for the new millennium", and wrote, "Her line delivery is sharp and she manages to get the right laughs". Later that year, Carey performed the American national anthem to rave reviews at the Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Towards the end of 2002, Carey released her next studio album Charmbracelet, which she said marked "a new lease on life" for her. Though released in the wake of Glitter and Carey's return to the music scene, sales of Charmbracelet were moderate and the quality of Carey's vocals came under criticism. Joan Anderson from The Boston Globe declared the album "the worst of her career, and revealed a voice [that is] no longer capable of either gravity-defying gymnastics or soft coos", while Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine expressed similar sentiments and wrote, "What is a greater problem is that Mariah's voice is shot, sounding in tatters throughout the record. She can no longer coo or softly croon nor can she perform her trademark gravity-defying vocal runs." In an attempt to "relaunch" her career following the poor reception to Glitter, as well as her breakdown, Carey announced a world tour in April 2003. Lasting over eight months, the Charmbracelet World Tour: An Intimate Evening with Mariah Carey, became her most extensive tour to date, spanning sixty-nine shows around the world. Throughout the United States, the shows were done in smaller theaters, and something more Broadway-influenced, "It's much more intimate so you'll feel like you had an experience. You experience a night with me." However, while smaller productions were booked throughout the tour's stateside leg, Carey performed at stadiums in Asia and Europe, performing for a crowd of over 35,000 in Manila, 50,000 in Malaysia, and to over 70,000 people in China. In the United Kingdom, it became Carey's first tour to feature shows outside of London, booking arena stops in Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester. Charmbracelet World Tour: An Intimate Evening with Mariah Carey garnered generally positive reviews from music critics and concert goers, with many complimenting the quality of Carey's live vocals, as well as the production as a whole.
2005–07: Return to prominence with The Emancipation of Mimi
Throughout 2004, Carey focused on composing material for her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). The album found Carey working predominantly with Jermaine Dupri, as well as Bryan-Michael Cox, Manuel Seal, The Neptunes and Kanye West. The album debuted atop the charts in several countries, and was warmly accepted by critics. Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian defined it as "cool, focused and urban [... some of] the first Mariah Carey tunes in years which I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again", while USA Today's Elysa Gardner wrote, "The ballads and midtempo numbers that truly reflect the renewed confidence of a songbird who has taken her shots and kept on flying." The album's second single, "We Belong Together", became a "career re-defining" song for Carey, at a point when many critics had considered her career over. Music critics heralded the song as her "return to form", as well as the "return of The Voice", while many felt it would revive "faith" in Carey's potential as a balladeer. "We Belong Together" broke several records in the United States and became Carey's sixteenth chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100. After staying at number one for fourteen non-consecutive weeks, the song became the second longest running number one song in US chart history, behind Carey's 1996 collaboration with Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day". Billboard listed it as the "song of the decade" and the ninth most popular song of all time. Besides its chart success, the song broke several airplay records, and according to Nielsen BDS, gathered both the largest one-day and one-week audiences in history.
During the week of September 25, 2005, Carey set another record, becoming the first female to occupy the first two spots atop the Hot 100, as "We Belong Together" remained at number one, and her next single, "Shake It Off" moved into the number two spot (Ashanti had topped the chart in 2002 while being a "featured" singer on the number two single). On the Billboard Hot 100 Year-end Chart of 2005, the song was declared the number one song, a career first for Carey. Billboard listed "We Belong Together" ninth on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and was declared the most popular song of the 2000s decade by Billboard. The album earned ten Grammy Award nominations in 2006–07: eight in 2006 for the original release (the most received by Carey in a single year), and two in 2007 for the Ultra Platinum Edition (from which "Don't Forget About Us" became her seventeenth number-one hit). In 2006 Carey won Best Contemporary R&B Album for The Emancipation of Mimi, as well as Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for "We Belong Together". The Emancipation of Mimi was the best-selling album in the United States in 2005, with nearly five million units sold. It was the first album by a solo female artist to become the year's best-selling album since Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill in 1996. At the end of 2005, the IFPI reported that The Emancipation of Mimi had sold more than 7.7 million copies globally, and was the second best-selling album of the year after Coldplay's X&Y. It was the best-selling album worldwide by a solo and female artist. To date, The Emancipation of Mimi has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. At the 48th Grammy Awards, Carey performed a medley of "We Belong Together" and "Fly Like a Bird". The performance earned the night's only standing ovation, prompting Teri Hatcher, who was presenting the next award, to exclaim, "It's like we've all just been saved!"
In support of the album, Carey embarked on her first headlining tour in three years, named The Adventures of Mimi: The Voice, The Hits, The Tour after a "Carey-centric fan's" music diary. The tour spanned forty stops, with thirty-two in the United States and Canada, two in Africa, and six in Japan. Tickets for the tour went on sale on June 2, 2006, with prices ranging from $95 to $150 USD, and featured Carey's long-time friend Randy Jackson as the tour's musical director. Carey's performances consisted of old songs from her catalog as well as her newest singles. The tour received warm critical reaction from music critics and concert goers, many of which celebrated the quality of Carey's live vocals, as well as the show as a whole. However, critics felt the show's excesses, such as Carey's often costume changes and pre-filmed clips, were unnecessary distractions. The tour proved successful, with Carey playing to over 60,000 fans in the two stops in Tunis alone. Midway through the tour, Carey booked a two-night concert engagement in Hong Kong, which was scheduled to take place following her Japanese shows. The shows were cancelled, however, after tickets went on sale. According to Carey's then-manager Benny Medina, the cancellation was due to the concert promoter's refusal to pay Carey her agreed-upon compensation. The promoter instead blamed poor ticket sales (allegedly, only 4,000 tickets had sold) and "Carey's outrageous demands". Carey ultimately sued the promoter, claiming $1 million in damages due to the concert's abrupt cancellation. The Adventures of Mimi DVD was released in November 2007 internationally and December 2007 in the US.
2008–10: E=MC², second marriage, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, and acting breakthrough
By spring 2007, Carey had begun to work on her eleventh studio album, E=MC², in a private villa in Anguilla. When asked about the album title's meaning, Carey said "Einstein's theory? Physics? Me? Hello! ...Of course I'm poking fun." She characterized it as "Emancipation of Mimi to the second power", and said that she was "freer" on this album than any other. Although E=MC² was well received by most critics, some of them criticized it for being very similar to the formula used on The Emancipation of Mimi. Two weeks before the album's release, "Touch My Body", the record's lead single, reached the top position on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Carey's eighteenth number one and making her the solo artist with the most number one singles in United States history, pushing her past Elvis Presley into second place according to the magazine's revised methodology. Carey is second only to The Beatles, who have twenty number-one singles. Additionally, it gave Carey her 79th week atop the Hot 100, tying her with Presley as the artist with the most weeks at number one in the Billboard chart history." Carey has also had notable success on international charts, though not to the same degree as in the United States. Thus far, she has had two number-one singles in Britain, two in Australia, and six in Canada. Her highest-charting single in Japan peaked at number two.
E=MC² debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, the biggest opening week sales of her career. With six number one albums, Carey is tied with Britney Spears and Janet Jackson in the United States for the third most number one albums for a female artist, behind Madonna with seven and Barbra Streisand's nine chart toppers. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked her at number six on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists", making Carey the second most successful female artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Carey and actor/comedian Nick Cannon met while they shot her music video for her second single, "Bye Bye", on an island off the coast of Antigua. On April 30, 2008, Carey married Cannon at her private estate on Windermere Island in The Bahamas. Carey had a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler's 2008 film You Don't Mess with the Zohan, playing herself. Since the album's release, Carey had planned to embark on an extensive tour in support of E=MC², describing its production and direction in several interviews. When asked to describe the tour's theme, Carey explained "I'm thinking elaborate. I like elaborate. We only do substantial. That's what my jeweler says. I haven't gotten the looks in mind just yet, but we're going to figure it out soon enough." Despite continued plans for a tour, and announcements made on The X Factor in the United Kingdom in November, the tour was suddenly cancelled in early December 2008. Heavy speculation suggested that Carey had become pregnant, and had abandoned plans for a tour as a result. Many reports were made claiming that Carey had been visiting a famed gynecologist's office in Los Angeles. Additionally, Carey's newly slimmed figure began to change, as she stopped her exercise routines and gained weight. Carey did not address those allegations until two years later on October 28, 2010, which was the same day she announced her new pregnancy; she admitted that she had indeed been pregnant during that time period, and suffered a miscarriage. For that reason, she cancelled the tour, and lost the child only two months later.
On January 20, 2009, Carey performed "Hero" at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball after Barack Obama was sworn as the first African-American president of the United States. On July 7, 2009, Carey – alongside Trey Lorenz – performed her version of The Jackson 5 song "I'll Be There" at the memorial service for Michael Jackson. At the sight of Jackson's casket, Carey's voice, overwhelmed with emotion, cracked in the opening line of the song. She later apologized on The Today Show, explaining how she did her best effort despite the circumstances.
In 2009, she appeared as a social worker in Precious, the movie adaptation of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, as had Carey's performance. Variety described her acting as "pitch-perfect". Precious won awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, receiving top honors there. In January 2010, Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award for her role in Precious at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. On September 25, 2009, Carey's twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, was released. Reception for the album was generally positive, but mixed in certain aspects; Stephen Thomas Erlewine 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 upper registers. Commercially, the album debuted at number three 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 number eleven and peaked at number seven 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 husband, Nick Cannon. According to MTV, Carey alludes to drug problems in "Obsessed", which Eminem opened up about on his sixth studio album, Relapse. The album's follow-up single, a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is", failed to achieve any significant chart success in the United States, or much throughout Europe, but managed to break airplay records in Brazil. The song spent 27 weeks atop the Brasil Hot 100 Airplay, making it the longest running song in the chart's history. On December 31, 2009, Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, which visited the United States and Canada. Though stateside, the tour spanned few international dates, such as in Brazil and Singapore, where Carey played to over 100,000 spectators. The tour ended on September 26, 2010. On January 30, 2010, it was announced that Carey would release a remix album 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). The album was slated for a March 30, 2010 release, but was eventually cancelled.
2010–11: Merry Christmas II You and motherhood
Following the cancellation of Angels Advocate, it was announced that Carey would return to the studio to start work on her thirteenth studio album. It was later revealed that it would be her second Christmas album, the follow-up to Merry Christmas (1994), which became the best-selling Holiday album of all time. Longtime collaborators for the project included Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox and Randy Jackson, as well as new collaborators such as Marc Shaiman. Dupri stated that a single would be released alongside the album before the year's end. During a press conference in Seoul, South Korea in August 2010, Island Def Jam executive Matt Voss announced that the album would be out on November 2, 2010, and would include six new songs as well as a remix of her classic hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You". The album, titled Merry Christmas II You, was released alongside an accompanying DVD, and was sent to retailers on November 2, 2010. Merry Christmas II You debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with sales of 56,000 copies, surpassing the opening week sales of Carey's previous holiday album of 45,000 copies 16 years prior. It also became Carey's 16th top ten album in the United States. The album debuted at number one on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it only the second Christmas album to top this chart.
In May 2010, Carey dropped out of her planned appearance in For Colored Girls, the film adaptation of the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, citing medical reasons. After much media speculation, Carey confirmed on October 28, 2010, that she and Cannon were expecting their first child. In February 2011, Carey announced that she had officially began writing new material for her upcoming fourteenth studio album. Carey recorded a duet with Tony Bennett for his Duets II album, titled "When Do The Bells Ring For Me". On April 30, 2011, the couple's third wedding anniversary, Carey gave birth to fraternal twins via C-section. The twins were named Monroe, after Marilyn Monroe, and Moroccan Scott, after the location in which Cannon proposed to Carey in her Moroccan-style room; Scott is Cannon's middle name and his grandmother's maiden name. In an interview, Carey stated that her pregnancy was very difficult; she suffered from high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes. Before giving birth to the twins, she also said: "I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to walk properly again, It was a huge strain. I would sit and then someone would have to help me up. I couldn't go even to the loo by myself. It was just like, 'What are we doing? Are we going to the hospital?' No, I'm gonna stick it out, I'm gonna keep taking this medicine to keep these babies in... I made it to 35 weeks and then the doctor said it wasn't safe anymore".
Following the birth of their children, Cannon revealed during an interview with Billboard that Carey had already begun working on a new record and that she's been inspired by her first two albums. Cannon said "She's been working away, and we have a studio in the crib, and [the pregnancy] has totally inspired her on so many different levels. You're definitely gonna see some new phenomenal music from Mariah" and assured Carey would plan on releasing a brand new single by the end of 2011. When asked if an album will be released by the end of 2011 as well, Cannon said that he was not sure. However, a late 2011 release for a single never materialized.
In October 2011, Carey announced that she re-recorded her song "All I Want for Christmas Is You" with Justin Bieber as a duet for his Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe. On November 5, 2011, Carey and Bieber filmed a music video for the duet at the Macy's in New York City. On October 21, 2011, a pre-taped interview with Barbara Walters aired on ABC's 20/20, during the interview Carey and Cannon allowed the cameras to photograph/film twins Moroccan and Monroe for the first time. In November 2011, Carey was included in the remix to the mixtape single "Warning" by Uncle Murda; the remix also features 50 Cent and Young Jeezy. That same month, Carey announced that she and John Legend collaborated on a duet, "When Christmas Comes", which was originally part of Carey's 2010 holiday album Merry Christmas II You.
2012–present: American Idol and The Art of Letting Go
On March 1, 2012, Carey took the stage at New York City's Gotham Hall for a show, where only 50 tickets were made available to the public, as part of the Plot Your Escape concert series. This was Carey's first time performing since pregnancy and the 40-minute set included many of Carey's hits such as "Always Be My Baby", "Hero", "Obsessed", "We Belong Together", and a cover of Michael Jackson's "I'll Be There". She also performed a three song set at a special fundraiser for United States President Barack Obama held in New York's Plaza Hotel. The three songs she performed were "Hero", "We Belong Together", and a new song titled "Bring It On Home", which Carey wrote specifically for the event to show her support behind Obama's re-election campaign. In June 2012, Carey posted a photo that wrote, "MC Summer 2012", after the photo was posted, many fans speculated that new music will be released soon. "Triumphant (Get 'Em)", featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill, was released in early August 2012 as a standalone single. It was co-written and co-produced by Carey, Jermaine Dupri, and Bryan-Michael Cox. In February 2013, Walt Disney Studios revealed that Carey recorded a song called "Almost Home", co-written and co-produced by Carey herself along with Simone Porter, Justin Gray, Lindsey Ray, Tor Erik Hermansen, and Mikkel Eriksen (a.k.a. Stargate) for the soundtrack of the film Oz the Great and Powerful. The video was directed by photographer David LaChapelle.
Carey joined the judging panel of American Idol for season twelve. Her salary was reported to be US$18 million. In November 2013, Carey revealed she hated working on American Idol and said, "It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan" with references to her on-set squabbles with fellow judge Nicki Minaj. Carey appeared in Lee Daniels' 2013 film The Butler, about a White House butler who served eight American Presidents over the course of three decades. On August 2, 2013, it was announced that Carey will guest voice-star as a redneck character on the adult animated series American Dad!, the episode slated to air on November 24, 2013, as part of the show's 10th season.
News started coming around about the singer's fourteenth studio album. In an interview she spoke about it: "I'm collaborating with a lot of my favorite people but the main thing is [that] I'm not trying to follow any particular trend, I want it to be well received. I want to stay true to myself and the music that I love and make the fans happy". Some of the people that Carey worked with on the album include: DJ Clue?, Randy Jackson, Q-Tip, R. Kelly, David Morales, Loris Holland, Stevie J, James Fauntleroy II, Ray Angry, Walter Afanasieff, Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, James "Big Jim" Wright, Hit-Boy, The-Dream, Da Brat, and Rodney Jerkins. Carey gave Billboard an exclusive interview in their March 9, 2013 issue, stating: "It's about making sure I have tons of good music, because at the end of the day that's the most important thing....There are a lot more raw ballads than people might expect...there are also uptempo and signature-type songs that represent [my] different facets as an artist.....Wherever we go with this project, I've tried to keep the soul and heart in it"; In late March 2013, Carey stated that she "has more than enough songs" but "she's in the process of finishing things and mixing and all that". The lead single, "Beautiful" featuring singer Miguel, was released on May 6, 2013, and peaked at number 15 on the Hot 100 chart. The music video was premiered on American Idol on May 9, 2013. Carey taped a performance of "Beautiful" along with a medley of her greatest hits on May 15, 2013; the taping aired on the American Idol finale the following day. She also performed on Good Morning America's Summer Concert Series on May 24, 2013. Walmart revealed the album's title as The Art of Letting Go, which was later confirmed by Carey's longtime friend and producer Jermaine Dupri. On October 14, 2013; Carey announced that the album's title track has been chosen as the second single, it premiered via Facebook on November 11, 2013. During a Q&A session following the song's Facebook release, Carey gave an update about the album, stating: "Now I've been inspired to add two more songs so we're almost there. I can't even express this properly but I feel like this is gonna be my favorite album".
Love is the subject of the majority of Carey's lyrics, although she has written about themes such as racism, social alienation, death, world hunger, and spirituality. She has said that much of her work is partly autobiographical, but Time magazine wrote: "If only Mariah Carey's music had the drama of her life. Her songs are often sugary and artificial—NutraSweet soul. But her life has passion and conflict," applying it to the first stages of her career. He commented that as her albums progressed, so too her songwriting and music blossomed into more mature and meaningful material. Jim Faber of the New York Daily News, made similar comments, "For Carey, vocalizing is all about the performance, not the emotions that inspired it. Singing, to her, represents a physical challenge, not an emotional unburdening." While reviewing Music Box, Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone commented that Carey sang with "sustained passion", while Entertainment Weekly's Arion Berger wrote that during some vocal moments, Carey becomes "too overwhelmed to put her passion into words." In 2001, The Village Voice wrote in regards to what they considered Carey's "centerless ballads", writing, "Carey's Strawberry Shortcake soul still provides the template with which teen-pop cuties draw curlicues around those centerless [Diane] Warren ballads [...] it's largely because of [Blige] that the new R&B demands a greater range of emotional expression, smarter poetry, more from-the-gut testifying, and less [sic] unnecessary notes than the squeaky-clean and just plain squeaky Mariah era. Nowadays it's the Christina Aguileras and Jessica Simpsons who awkwardly oversing, while the women with roof-raising lung power keep it in check when tune or lyric demands."
Carey's output makes use of electronic instruments such as drum machines, keyboards and synthesizers. Many of her songs contain piano-driven melodies, as she was given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said that she cannot read sheet music and prefers to collaborate with a pianist when composing her material, but feels that it is easier to experiment with faster and less conventional melodies and chord progressions using this technique. While Carey learned to play the piano at a young age, and incorporates several ranges of production and instrumentation into her music, she has maintained that her voice has always been her most important asset: "My voice is my instrument; it always has been." Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped to spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes. Disc jockey David Morales has collaborated with Carey on several occasions, starting with "Dreamlover" (1993), which popularized the tradition of remixing R&B songs into house records, and which Slant magazine named one of the greatest dance songs of all time. From "Fantasy" (1995) onward, Carey enlisted both hip-hop and house producers to re-structure her album compositions. Entertainment Weekly included two remixes of "Fantasy" on a list of Carey's greatest recordings compiled in 2005: a National Dance Music Award-winning remix produced by Morales, and a Sean Combs production featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. The latter has been credited with popularizing the R&B/hip-hop collaboration trend that has continued into the 2000s, through artists such as Ashanti and Beyoncé. Combs said that Carey "knows the importance of mixes, so you feel like you're with an artist who appreciates your work—an artist who wants to come up with something with you".
Voice and timbre
Mariah Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range, and has the ability to reach notes beyond the 7th octave. Referred to as the "songbird supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she was ranked first in a 2003 MTV and Blender magazine countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music, as voted by fans and readers in an online poll. Carey said of the poll, "What it really means is voice of the MTV generation. Of course, it's an enormous compliment, but I don't feel that way about myself." She also placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists".
Regarding her voice type, Carey said that she is an alto, though several critics have described her as a soprano. However, within contemporary forms of music, singers are classified by the style of music they sing. There is currently no authoritative voice classification system within non-classical music. Attempts have been made to adopt classical voice type terms to other forms of singing, but they are controversial, because the development of classic voice categorizations were made with the understanding that the singer would amplify his or her voice with their natural resonators, without a microphone.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times described Carey's lower register as a "rich, husky alto" that extends to "dog-whistle high notes". Carey also possesses a "whisper register". In an interview with the singer, Ron Givens of Entertainment Weekly described it this way, "In one brief swoop, she seems to squeal and roar at the same time: whisper register." Additionally, towards the late 1990s, Carey began incorporating breathy vocals into her material. Tim Levell from the BBC News described her vocals as "sultry close-to-the-mic breathiness", while USA Today's Elysa Gardner wrote "it's impossible to deny the impact her vocal style, a florid blend of breathy riffing and resonant belting, has had on today's young pop and R&B stars."
Carey has said that from childhood she has been influenced by Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and R&B and soul musicians such as Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, and she credits The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins as the most influential in her early years. When Carey incorporated hip-hop into her sound, speculation arose that she was making an attempt to take advantage of the genre's popularity, but she told Newsweek, "People just don't understand. I grew up with this music". She has expressed appreciation for rappers such as The Sugarhill Gang, Eric B. & Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G. and Mobb Deep, with whom she collaborated on the single "The Roof (Back in Time)" (1998). Carey was heavily influenced by Minnie Riperton, and began experimenting with the whistle register due to her original practice of the range.
During Carey's career, her vocal and musical style, along with her level of success, has been compared to Whitney Houston, who she has also cited as an influence, and Celine Dion. Carey and her peers, according to Garry Mulholland, are "the princesses of wails [...] virtuoso vocalists who blend chart-oriented pop with mature MOR torch song". Author and writer Lucy O'Brien attributed the comeback of Barbra Streisand's "old-fashioned showgirl" to Carey and Dion, and described them and Houston as "groomed, airbrushed and overblown to perfection". Carey's musical transition and use of more revealing clothing during the late 1990s were, in part, initiated to distance herself from this image, and she subsequently said that most of her early work was "schmaltzy MOR". Some have noted that unlike Houston and Dion, Carey co-writes and produces her own songs.
Carey's vocal style and singing ability have significantly impacted popular and contemporary music. As music critic G. Brown from The Denver Post wrote, "For better or worse, Mariah Carey's five-octave range and melismatic style have influenced a generation of pop singers." According to Rolling Stone, "Her mastery of melisma, the fluttering strings of notes that decorate songs like "Vision of Love", inspired the entire American Idol vocal school, for better or worse, and virtually every other female R&B singer since the Nineties." Jody Rosen of Slate Magazine wrote of Carey's influence in modern music, calling her the most influential vocal stylist of the last two decades, the person who made rococo melismatic singing. Rosen further exemplified Carey's influence by drawing parallel with American Idol, which to her, "often played out as a clash of melisma-mad Mariah wannabes. And, today, nearly 20 years after Carey's debut, major labels continue to bet the farm on young stars such as the winner of Britain's X Factor show, Leona Lewis, with her Generation Next gloss on Mariah's big voice and big hair." Sean Daly of St. Petersburg Times wrote, "Depending on how you feel about public humiliation, the best/worst parts of American Idol are the audition shows, which normally break down into three distinct parts:(1) The Talented Kids.(2) The Weird Kids.(3) The Mariahs." Daly further commented, "The Mariahs are the hardest ones to watch, mainly because most of them think they're reeeaaally good. The poor, disillusioned hopefuls plant themselves in front of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson – then proceed to stretch, break and mutilate every note of a song, often Mariah's Hero, a tune that has ruined more throats than smoker's cough." New York Magazine's editor Roger Deckker said that in regarding Carey as an influential artist in music, he commented that "Whitney Houston may have introduced melisma (the vocally acrobatic style of lending a word an extra syllable or twenty) to the charts, but it was Mariah—with her jaw-dropping range—who made it into America's default sound." Deckker also added that "Every time you turn on American Idol, you are watching her children". Despite her vocal prowess, Carey's vocal technique particularly with the use of melisma and belting, has been subject to public scrutiny mainly because of young singers such as from talent shows have been overly imitating her singing technique in which critics commented "Mariah Carey is, without a doubt, the worst thing to happen to amateur singing since the karaoke machine". As Professor Katherine L. Meizel noted in her book, The Mediation of Identity Politics in American Idol, "Carey's influence not just stops in the emulation of melisma or her singing amongst the wannabe's, it's also her persona, her diva, her stardom which inspires them.... a pre-fame conic look."
Carey's influence is notable in numerous hip hop, pop and R&B artists, including Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly Furtado, Leona Lewis, Brandy Norwood, Pink, Mary J. Blige, and Missy Elliott, among others. Knowles credits Carey's singing and her song "Vision of Love" as influencing her to begin practicing vocal "runs" as a child, as well as helping her pursue a career as a musician. Rihanna has stated that Carey is one of her major influences and idol. Christina Aguilera has cited in the early stages of her career that Carey is a big influence in her singing career and is one of her idols. According to Pier Dominguez, author of Christina Aguilera: a star is made : the unauthorized biography, Aguilera has stated how she loved listening to Whitney Houston, but it was Carey who had the biggest influence on her vocal styling. Carey's carefully choreographed image of a grown woman struck a chord with Aguilera. Her influence on Aguilera also grew from the fact that both were of mixed heritage. Philip Brasor, editor of The Japan Times, expressed how Carey's vocal and melismatic style even influenced Asian singers. He wrote regarding Japanese superstar Utada Hikaru, "Utada sang what she heard, from the diaphragm and with her own take on the kind of melisma that became de rigueur in American pop after the ascendance of Mariah Carey." In an article called "Out With Mariah's Melisma, In With Kesha's Kick", writer David Browne of The New York Times discusses how the ubiquitous melisma pop style has suddenly fallen down from pop culture in favor of young stars who uses the now ubiquitous autotune in which the first mentioned was heavily popularized into mainstream pop culture with the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Browne had commented "But beginning two decades ago, melisma overtook pop in a way it hadn't before. Mariah Carey's debut hit from 1990, "Vision of Love," followed two years later by Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You," set the bar insanely high for notes stretched louder, longer and knottier than most pop fans had ever heard." Browne further added "A subsequent generation of singers, including Ms. Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé, built their careers around melisma. (Men like Brian McKnight and Tyrese also indulged in it, but women tended to dominate the form.)"
Carey's usage of melisma throughout the song was credited with inspiring several vocalists and performers throughout the turn or the century, and is considered to have brought the usage of the vocal technique to modern day singers and talent competitions around the world to date.
Since its release in 1994, the song has re-entered the charts around the world, and is the best-selling holiday ringtone and song in the United States. Additionally, it was listed as the number one Christmas standard in the United Kingdom, while being branded the "last addition to the holiday collection of classics." The song has been covered by several artists, attesting to its continued popularity.
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Carey is also credited for introducing R&B and hip hop into mainstream pop culture, and for popularizing rap as a featuring act through her post-1995 songs. Sasha Frere-Jones, editor of The New Yorker commented, "It became standard for R&B/hip-hop stars like Missy Elliott and Beyoncé, to combine melodies with rapped verses. And young white pop stars—including Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, and 'N Sync—have spent much of the past ten years making pop music that is unmistakably R&B." Moreover Jones concludes that "[Carey's] idea of pairing a female songbird with the leading male MCs of hip-hop changed R&B and, eventually, all of pop. Although now anyone is free to use this idea, the success of "The Emancipation of Mimi" suggests that it still belongs to Carey." Judnick Mayard, writer of The Fader, wrote that in regarding of R&B and hip hop collaboration, "The champion of this movement is Mariah Carey." Mayard also expressed that "To this day ODB and Mariah may still be the best and most random hip hop collaboration of all time", citing that due to the record "Fantasy", "R&B and Hip Hop were the best of step siblings."
Kelfa Sanneh of The New York Times wrote, "In the mid-1990s Ms. Carey pioneered a subgenre that some people call the thug-love duet. Nowadays clean-cut pop stars are expected to collaborate with roughneck rappers, but when Ms. Carey teamed up with Ol' Dirty Bastard, of the Wu-Tang Clan, for the 1995 hit "Fantasy (Remix)", it was a surprise, and a smash." Aside from her pop culture and musical influence, Carey is credited for releasing a classic Christmas song called "All I Want for Christmas Is You". In a retrospective look at Carey's career, Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker said, the "charming" song was one of Carey's biggest accomplishments, calling it "one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon". Rolling Stone ranked "All I Want for Christmas Is You" fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list, calling it a "holiday standard." Following the release of her Greatest Hits album, Devon Powers of PopMatters has said in his review that "She has influenced countless female vocalists after her. At 32, she is already a living legend—even if she never sings another note." While reviewing a concert of Carey in Sydney, Elise Vout of MTV Australia wrote that "it's not amazing choreography or high production value you're going to see, it's the larger than life personality, unique voice, and legend that is Mariah Carey."
Carey's business ventures include the launch of her perfumes, her clothing line, and books. She has portrayed the true nature of being a superstar, according to sociologist Naomi Hirahara, and is a classic example of the word "diva". Carey is never seen without her large entourage, whether it be award shows, performances or as guests on late night specials. Hirahara says, "her demands are sporadic, her looks are glamorous, she is hardly of her age, but she is still ruling. Nowadays people emulate the idea of being a diva, but Carey was the original one in true sense of the term."
Honors and awards
Throughout Carey's career, she has collected many honors and awards, including the World Music Awards' Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium, the Grammy's Best New Artist in 1991, Billboard's Special Achievement Award for the Artist of the Decade during the 1990s. In a career spanning over 20 years, Carey has sold over 200 million albums, singles, and videos worldwide, making her one of the biggest-selling artists in music history. Carey is ranked as the best-selling female artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era, with over 52 million copies sold. Possessing a five-octave vocal range, Carey was ranked first in MTV and Blender magazine's 2003 countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music, and was placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists". Aside from her voice, she has become known for her songwriting. Yahoo Music editor Jason Ankeny wrote, "She earned frequent comparison to rivals Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, but did them both one better by composing all of her own material." According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States. At the 2000 World Music Awards, Carey was given a Legend Award for being the "best-selling female pop artist of the millennium", as well as the "Best-selling artist of the 90s" in the United States, after releasing a series of albums of multi-platinum status in Asia and Europe, such as Music Box and Number 1's. She is also a recipient of the Chopard Diamond award in 2003, recognizing sales of over 100 million albums worldwide. Additionally, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists Carey as the third-best-selling female artist, with shipments of over 63 million units in the US. In Japan, Carey has the top four highest-selling albums of all time by a non-Asian artist.
Carey has spent a record 79 weeks at the number-one position on Billboard Hot 100, becoming the artist with the most weeks at number-one in US chart history. On that same chart, she has accumulated 18 number-one singles, the most for any solo artist and places her second in the chart's history (after only The Beatles). In 1994, Carey released her holiday album Merry Christmas has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, and is the best-selling Christmas album of all time. It also produced the successful single "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which became the only holiday song and ringtone to reach multi-platinum status in the US. In Japan, Number 1's has sold over 3,250,000 copies and is the best-selling album of all time in Japan by a non-Asian artist. Her hit single "One Sweet Day", which featured Boyz II Men, spent sixteen consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1996, setting the record for the most weeks atop the Hot 100 chart in history. After Carey's success in Asia with Merry Christmas, Billboard estimated Carey as the all-time best-selling international artist in Japan. In 2008, Billboard listed "We Belong Together" ninth on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and second on Top Billboard Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song was also declared the most popular song of the 2000s decade by Billboard. In 2009, Carey's cover of Foreigner's song "I Want to Know What Love Is" became the longest-running number-one song in Brazilian singles chart history, spending 27 consecutive weeks at number-one. Additionally, Carey has had three songs debut at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100: "Fantasy", "One Sweet Day" and "Honey", making her the artist with the most number-one debuts in the chart's 52-year history. Also, she is the first female artist to debut at number 1 in the U.S. with "Fantasy". In 2010, Carey's 13th album and second Christmas album, Merry Christmas II You, debuted at No.1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it only the second Christmas album to top that chart. On November 19, 2010, Billboard magazine named Carey in their "Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years" chart at number four. In 2012, Carey was ranked second on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Women in Music".
Philanthropy and other activities
Carey is a philanthropist who has donated time and money to organizations such as the Fresh Air Fund. She became associated with the Fund in the early 1990s, and is the co-founder of a camp located in Fishkill, New York, that enables inner-city youth to embrace the arts and introduces them to career opportunities. The camp was called Camp Mariah "for her generous support and dedication to Fresh Air children", and she received a Congressional Horizon Award for her youth-related charity work. Carey also donated royalties from her hits "Hero" and "One Sweet Day" to charities. She is well-known nationally for her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in granting the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, and in November 2006 she was awarded the Foundation's Wish Idol for her "extraordinary generosity and her many wish granting achievements". Carey has volunteered for the New York City Police Athletic League and contributed to the obstetrics department of New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Medical Center. A percentage of the sales of MTV Unplugged was donated to various other charities. In 2008, Carey was named Hunger Ambassador of the World Hunger Relief Movement. In February 2010, the song, "100%", which was originally written and recorded for the film, Precious, was used as one of the theme songs for the 2010 Winter Olympics, with all money proceeds going to Team USA.
One of Carey's most high-profile benefit concert appearances was on VH1's 1998 Divas Live special, during which she performed alongside other female singers in support of the Save the Music Foundation. The concert was a ratings success, and Carey participated in the Divas 2000 special. In 2007, the Save the Music Foundation honored Carey at their tenth gala event for her support towards the foundation since its inception. She appeared at the America: A Tribute to Heroes nationally televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and in December 2001, she performed before peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. Carey hosted the CBS television special At Home for the Holidays, which documented real-life stories of adopted children and foster families, from the Wayback Machine on October 22, 2001. In 2005, Carey performed for Live 8 in London and at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon "Shelter from the Storm". In August 2008, Carey and other singers recorded the charity single, "Just Stand Up" produced by Babyface and L. A. Reid, to support "Stand Up to Cancer". In March 2011, Carey's representative Cindi Berger stated that royalties for the song "Save The Day", which was written for her fourteenth studio album, will be donated to charities that create awareness to human rights issues. Berg also said that "Mariah has and continues to donate her time, money and countless hours of personal service to many organizations both here and abroad".
Declining offers to appear in commercials in the United States during her early career, Carey was not involved in brand marketing initiatives until 2006, when she participated in endorsements for Intel Centrino personal computers and launched a jewelry and accessories line for teenagers, Glamorized, in American Claire's and Icing stores. During this period, as part of a partnership with Pepsi and Motorola, Carey recorded and promoted a series of exclusive ringtones, including "Time of Your Life". She signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, and in 2007, she released her own fragrance, "M". In 2007, Forbes named her as the fifth richest woman in entertainment, with an estimated net worth of US $270 million. In November 2011, it was reported that Carey's net worth was valued at more than $500 million. On November 29, 2010, she debuted a collection on HSN, the collection range included jewelry, shoes and fragrances. In November 2011, Carey was announced as the new global ambassador for Jenny Craig, following her weight loss with the program after giving birth to fraternal twins in April. Carey claims she lost 70-pound (32 kg) on the program.
|2001||Glitter||Billie Frank||2001 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress|
|2003||Death of a Dynasty||Herself||Cameo appearance|
|2005||State Property 2||Dame's Wifey|
|2008||You Don't Mess with the Zohan||Herself||Cameo appearance|
Palm Springs International Film Festival Breakthrough Performance Award
|2013||The Butler||Hattie Pearl|
|1990–2008||Saturday Night Live||Musical Guest||"Patrick Swayze/Mariah Carey" (Season 16, Episode 4)
"Linda Hamilton/Mariah Carey" (Season 17, Episode 6)
"Claire Danes/Mariah Carey" (Season 23, Episode 6)
"Jonah Hill/Mariah Carey" (Season 33, Episode 8)
|2002||Ally McBeal||Candy Cushnip||"Playing with Matches" (Season 5, Episode 8)|
|2003||The Proud Family||Herself (voice)||"Monkey Business" (Season 3, Episode 1)|
|2013||American Idol||Judge||Season 12|
|2013||American Dad!||redneck character||Season 10|
- Mariah Carey (1990)
- Emotions (1991)
- Music Box (1993)
- Merry Christmas (1994)
- Daydream (1995)
- Butterfly (1997)
- Rainbow (1999)
- Glitter (2001)
- Charmbracelet (2002)
- The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)
- E=MC² (2008)
- Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009)
- Merry Christmas II You (2010)
- The Art of Letting Go (2014)
- List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance chart
- List of best-selling music artists
- List of best selling music artists in U.S.
- List of Mariah Carey tours
- Sources differ. Those giving 1970 include:
- Nickson, Chris (2011). Mariah Carey Revisited: The Unauthorized Biography. St. Martin's Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-4299-4015-3.
- Shapiro, Marc (2001). Mariah Carey. ECW Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-55022-444-3.
- McCann, Bob (2010). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7864-5804-2.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Mariah Carey Artist Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "Mariah Carey Biography". People. Retrieved March 4, 2011.. The magazine specified, "[W]e have a copy of Ms. Carey's driver's license, which lists her birthday as March 27, 1969. Furthermore, we spoke with the administrators at the high school she attended who confirmed that Ms. Carey's birthday is March 27, 1969, as did her management when we made our initial interview."
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- Additional information concerning Carey's chart history can be retrieved and verified in Billboard's online archive services and print editions of the magazine.
|Find more about Mariah Carey at Wikipedia's sister projects|
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- Official website
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- Works by or about Mariah Carey in libraries (WorldCat catalog)