Mariah Carey in a Nutshell

by James HargroveMay 8, 2024, , ,
Mariah Carey in a Nutshell

Mariah Carey holds the record for the most No. 1 debuts in Billboard Hot 100 history, with songs including "Vision of Love" and "I Don't Wanna Cry."

Mariah Carey: Who Is She?

Mariah Carey debuted with Columbia Records at the age of 18 and scored four No. 1 singles on her debut album, including "Vision of Love" and "I Don't Wanna Cry." Carey produced several more albums (later with different studios) and hit songs, becoming one of the most commercially successful singers, with 19 No. 1 hits and over 200 million albums sold.

Early Years

Alfred Roy Carey, a Venezuelan aeronautical engineer, and Patricia Carey, a vocal coach and opera singer, gave birth to Carey on March 27, 1970, in Huntington, Long Island, New York. Morgan, her brother, and Alison, her sister, is her older siblings.

When Carey was three years old, her parents divorced. She astounded her mother when she imitated her operatic singing at the age of two, and she began taking singing lessons at the age of four. Carey eventually developed a five-octave range in his voice.

Carey came to Manhattan after graduating from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, in 1987, where she worked as a waitress and a coat check girl while studying cosmetology and creating songs at night.

Early Hits

'Mariah Carey' and 'Emotions' were two of her early hits in the music industry. Carey and her friend Brenda K Starr attended a CBS Records party. Carey was persuaded to bring a demo cassette by Starr. She meant to Jerry Greenberg of Columbia Records (later Sony) but was intercepted by Tommy Mottola, the president of Columbia Records. 

After hearing the tape on the way home from the party, Mottola promptly signed Carey and put her to work on her debut album, Mariah Carey (1990), which had four No. 1 singles: "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Some Day," and "I Don't Wanna Cry." Emotions, her second album, was released in 1992 and featured the successes "Can't Let Go" and "Make it Happen," and the title tune, which became her sixth No. 1 single.

'Music Box,' 'Daydream,' and 'Butterfly’

Carey made an appearance on MTV's Unplugged in March 1992. Another No. 1 hit (a rendition of The Jacksons' "I'll Be There") resulted from this performance, published as an album and a home movie. Her following album, Music Box (1993), featured the No. 1 singles "Dreamlover" and "Hero" and pulled back on the extravagant studio production techniques seen on her prior albums.

Merry Christmas, released in November 1994, was a mix of traditional Christian hymns and modern compositions. Daydream was released in 1995, and the first song, "Fantasy," reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Collaborations with R&B and hip-hop acts like Wu-Tang Clan, and Boyz II Men were also included ("One Sweet Day").

Butterfly, Carey's 1997 album, featured 11 of her original compositions and showcased her continued interest in hip-hop and R&B, including the Sean "Puffy" Combs-produced "Honey," her 12th No. 1 single. #1's, Carey's 1998 album, contained 13 prior chart-topping songs and "The Prince of Egypt (When You Believe)," a duet with fellow pop diva Whitney Houston, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Hospitalization, 'Glitter,' and a New Record Deal

Carey was committed to a New York-area hospital in July 2001 and placed under psychiatric care after suffering a "physical and emotional collapse," Carey had planned public engagements to promote her upcoming feature film debut, Glitter, and its accompanying soundtrack CD. Glitter's release date was pushed back from late August to September 2001. After two weeks in the hospital, Carey was released.

Carey and EMI (the parent company of Virgin Records, with whom he had signed a rumored $80 million contract in April 2001) ended their association in January 2002. Although the film and album for Glitter failed to meet expectations in terms of box office and sales, Carey reportedly received over $50 million as part of her severance package from Virgin. She signed a deal with Universal Music Group's Island/Def Jam Records in May 2002.

'Charmbracelet' to 'Caution' Journey.

Charmbracelet, Carey's ninth album, was released in December 2002 and debuted in third place on the charts. In June 2003, she began her first tour in over three years to promote the album.

Her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi, became the best-selling record in the United States in 2005. Carey passed Elvis Presley to become second only to the Beatles. Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009), Merry Christmas II You (2010), her second holiday CD, and Me are among her albums. I'm Mariah, the enigmatic chanteuse (2014).

With the release of her 15th studio album, Caution (2018), the singer demonstrated that she is still one of the best in the business, debuting at No. 5 in the United States and earning mention on multiple "albums of the year" lists.

Carey set a new Billboard record for longevity when her everlasting holiday song, "All I Want for Christmas Is You," topped No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 2019, marking the 25th anniversary of its debut and arrival at the top spot.

Carey's albums have sold over 200 million copies globally. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is the third best-selling female artist.

'American Idol,' 'Vegas Residency,' and 'Mariah's World'

Carey was named a new judge for season 12 of the renowned FOX television show American Idol in 2012, joining Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban on the panel. She had a brief role in Lee Daniels' movie The Butler, about White House butler Eugene Allen. She also played a character on the animated television series American Dad! in 2013.

Carey signed a deal in January 2015 to begin a residency in Las Vegas in May 2016. She published a greatest hits album comprising her No. 1 songs with Caesars Palace show, #1 to Infinity. She also appeared in and directed A Christmas Melody, a Hallmark Channel holiday film, in 2015.

Following her European tour, Carey launched The Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour and Mariah's World, a television docu-series on E! in 2016. In the animated film The Lego Batman Movie, she also voiced the mayor, released in 2017.

Bipolar Admittance

Carey opened up about her long-running, covert battle with bipolar II disorder in an April 2018 People cover article. After being hospitalized for her breakdown in 2001, the singer claimed she refused to embrace the diagnosis for years. "Until recently, I lived in denial and loneliness, always afraid of being exposed," she said. "It was too much for me to bear, and I couldn't do it anymore."

After finally seeking treatment, Carey said she was able to turn her life around and began going to therapy and taking medicine regularly. "I'm just in a really good position right now," she told People. "I'm just in a really good place right now, where I'm comfortable addressing my difficulties with bipolar II disease." "I'm hoping we can reach a point where people going through things alone are no longer stigmatized. It may be a very isolated experience. It doesn't have to define you, and I'm not letting it govern or define me."

'The Rarities' and a Memoir

On September 29, 2020, Carey launched her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. "I want to convey the tale of the times that shaped who I am now — the ups and downs, the successes and traumas, the debacles and hopes," she said. On October 2, Carey published the 32-track album The Rarities, in addition to the memoir.

Personal Experiences

Carey married Mottola in a lavish ceremony at Manhattan's St. Thomas Episcopal Church in June 1993. In 1998, the couple divorced. According to reports, Carey next dated Latin artist Luis Miguel for three years, but their romance ended in the summer of 2001.

After appearing in her music video for "Bye Bye," Carey began dating rapper/actor Nick Cannon. After dating for less than two months, the pair married in a private ceremony in the Bahamas on April 30, 2008. Moroccan and Monroe, twins, were born to Carey and Cannon in 2011.

After six years of marriage, the couple announced their separation in August 2014, and their divorce was finalized in 2016. Carey married Australian businessman James Packer in New York City in January 2016, but they announced their split in October. After her engagement with Packer ended, Carey began a relationship with backup dancer Bryan Tanaka, also featured in her reality show Mariah's World.

Carey volunteers with The Fresh Air Fund, a charitable organization that gives free summer vacations to impoverished children in New York City and is the co-founder of Camp Mariah, one of the group's initiatives.

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