Mariah Carey is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. She made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States.
Following her separation from Mottola in 1997, Carey introduced elements of hip hop into her album work, to much initial success, but her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia in 2001. She signed to Virgin Records but was dropped from the label and bought out of her contract the following year after a highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, as well as the poor reception given to Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. In 2002, Carey signed with Island Records, and after a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of pop music in 2005.
Carey has sold more than 175 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. She was named the best-selling female pop artist of the millennium at the 2000 World Music Awards. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is the third best-selling female artist and sixteenth overall recording artist with shipments of over 62.5 million albums in the US. She is also ranked as the best-selling female artist of the U.S. Nielsen SoundScan era (third best-selling artist overall). She has the most number-one singles for a solo artist in the United States (eighteen; second artist overall behind The Beatles). In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked her at number six on "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists", making Carey as the second most successful female artist, in the history of Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition to her commercial accomplishments, Carey has earned five Grammy Awards, and is well-known for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style, and use of the whistle register.