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Mariah Carey

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Title: Mariah Carey  
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Subject: List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of the 1990s, Mainstream Top 40, List of Billboard Hot 100 chart achievements by decade, MTV Unplugged (Mariah Carey EP), 2001 in music
Collection: 20Th-Century American Actresses, 20Th-Century American Singers, 20Th-Century Pianists, 21St-Century American Actresses, 21St-Century American Singers, 21St-Century Pianists, Actresses from New York, African-American Actresses, African-American Christians, African-American Female Singer-Songwriters, African-American Pianists, African-American Record Producers, American Dance Musicians, American Female Pop Singers, American Female Pop Singer-Songwriters, American Film Actresses, American Hip Hop Record Producers, American Hip Hop Singers, American Idol Participants, American Music Arrangers, American Music Video Directors, American People of Irish Descent, American People of Venezuelan Descent, American Philanthropists, American Rhythm and Blues Singer-Songwriters, American Sopranos, American Soul Singers, American Television Actresses, Columbia Records Artists, Def Jam Recordings Artists, Epic Records Artists, Female Music Video Directors, Grammy Award Winners, Hispanic and Latino American Actresses, Hispanic and Latino American Musicians, Idols (Tv Series) Judges, Island Records Artists, Living People, Mariah Carey, Music Video Codirectors, People from Greenlawn, New York, Singers from New York, Singers with a Five-Octave Vocal Range, Songwriters from New York, Spanish-Language Singers of the United States, Virgin Records Artists, World Music Awards Winners, Year of Birth Uncertain
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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
Carey performing on Good Morning America, May 2013
Born (1969-03-27) March 27, 1969 or (1970-03-27) March 27, 1970 (sources differ)
Long Island, New York, U.S.
Residence New York City, New York, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • record producer
  • philanthropist
Years active 1988–present
Net worth US$500 million (estimate as of December 2013)[1][2]
Children 2
Musical career
Instruments Vocals

Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970)[3] is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Carey came to prominence after releasing her self-titled debut studio album Mariah Carey in 1990; it went multiplatinum and spawned four consecutive number one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Under the guidance of Columbia Records executive and later husband Tommy Mottola, she continued booking success with followup albums 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 America. Before the release of her 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 multimillion 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.

Throughout her career, 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 18th 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, 19 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.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • 1988–92: Mariah Carey and Emotions 2.1
    • 1993–96: Music Box, international breakthrough, and Daydream 2.2
    • 1997–2000: New image and independence, Butterfly, and Rainbow 2.3
    • 2001–04: Glitter, Charmbracelet, personal and professional struggles 2.4
    • 2005–07: Commercial success with The Emancipation of Mimi 2.5
    • 2008–09: E=MC² and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel 2.6
    • 2010–present: Merry Christmas II You, American Idol, and Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse 2.7
  • Philanthropy and other activities 3
  • Artistry 4
    • Musical style 4.1
    • Voice and timbre 4.2
    • Influences 4.3
  • Legacy 5
  • Personal life 6
  • Honors and awards 7
  • Discography 8
  • Filmography 9
  • Tours 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
    • Footnotes 12.1
    • Sources 12.2
  • External links 13

Early life

Mariah Carey was born on March 27, 1969 or 1970 on Long Island, in Huntington, New York.[4][5] Her father, Alfred Roy, was of African American and Venezuelan (including Afro-Venezuelan) descent, while her mother, Patricia (Hickey), is of White Irish descent. The last name Carey was adopted by her Venezuelan grandfather, Francisco Núñez, after emigrating to New York.[6] Patricia was an occasional opera singer and vocal coach before she met Alfred in 1960.[5] 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.[6] After their elopement, Patricia's family disowned her due to her marrying a black man. Carey later explained that growing up, she felt a notion of neglect from her maternal family, a mark that affected her greatly.[6] During the years between the births of Carey's older sister Alison and herself, the Carey family struggled within the community due to their ethnicity.[6] Carey's name was derived from the song "They Call the Wind Maria", originally from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon.[7][8] When Carey was three, her parents divorced.[9]

"It's been difficult for me, moving around so much, having to grow up by myself... my parents divorced. And I always felt kind of different from everybody else in my neighborhoods. I was a different person ethnically. And sometimes, that can be a problem. If you look a certain way, everybody goes 'White girl', and I'd go, 'No, that's not what I am'."

—Carey, on her childhood[10]

After their separation, Alison moved in with her father, while the other two children, Mariah and brother Morgan, remained with their mother. Carey would grow apart from her father, and would later stop seeing him altogether.[9][11] By the age of four, Carey recalled that she had begun to sneak the radio under her covers at night, and just sing and try and find peace within the music.[11] During elementary school, she excelled in subjects that she enjoyed, such as music, art, and literature, but not find interest in others. After several years of financial struggles, Patricia earned enough money to move her family into a stable and more affluent sector in New York.[12] 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.[13] 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 classical opera, Patricia never pressured her to pursue a career in it, as she never seemed interested. 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."[13][14]

While in high school, Carey began writing songs with Gavin Christopher. They 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."[14] 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.[15] She began living in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, which she shared with four other female students.[16][17] Carey worked as a waitress for various restaurants, usually getting fired after two weeks.[18] While requiring work to pay for her rent, Carey still had musical ambitions, as she continued working late into the night with Margulies in hopes of completing a demo.[18] After completing her four song demo tape, Carey attempted to pass it to music labels, but failed each time.[19] Shortly thereafter, she was introduced to rising pop singer Brenda K. Starr.[19][20]


1988–92: Mariah Carey and Emotions

Carey exiting the Shepherd's Bush Theatre after promoting her single "Vision of Love" on The Wogan Show, in 1990

As Starr's friendship with Carey grew, so did her interest in helping Carey succeed in the industry. 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.[21][22] After the first two songs, he was so enamored of Carey's voice that he returned to the event, only to find that she had left.[22] In what has been widely described by critics as a modern day Cinderella tale,[23][24] after searching for Carey for two weeks, he immediately signed her and began mapping out her commercial debut.[21] 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.[21] Mottola and the staff at Columbia had planned to market Carey as their main female pop artist, competing with Whitney Houston and Madonna (signed to Arista and Sire Records respectively).[25] After the completion of her debut album, Mariah Carey, Columbia spent more than $1 million promoting it.[26] Despite a weak start, the album eventually reached the top of the Billboard 200, after Carey's exposure at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.[27] Mariah Carey stayed atop the charts for eleven consecutive weeks,[28] and she won the Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance awards for her single "Vision of Love".[29] The album yielded three more 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.[30] Mariah Carey finished as the best-selling album in the United States in 1991,[31] while totaling sales of over 15 million copies.[32]

Carey began recording her second studio album, Emotions, in 1991.[33][34] She described it as a homage to Motown soul music, as she felt the need to pay tribute to the type of music that had influenced her as a child.[34] For the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, who only had a small role on her debut, as well as Robert Clivillés and David Cole, from the dance group C+C Music Factory.[35] However, Carey's relationship with Margulies deteriorated over a contract Carey had signed before 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. Margulies later filed a lawsuit against Sony which ultimately led to their parting of ways.[34] Emotions was released on September 17, 1991, and was accepted by critics as a more mature album than its predecessor.[36] While praised for Carey's improved songwriting, production, and new sound, the album was criticized for its material, thought weaker than that of her debut.[37] Though the album managed sales of over eight million copies globally, Emotions failed to reach the commercial and critical heights of its predecessor.[38]

As after the release of her debut, critics again questioned whether Carey would embark on a world tour to promote her material.[39] Although Carey explained that stage fright and the style of her songs made a tour very daunting, speculation grew that Carey was a "studio worm", and that she was incapable of producing the perfect pitch and 5-octave vocal range for which she was known.[23][40] In hopes of putting to rest any claims of her being a manufactured artist, Carey and Walter Afanasieff decided to book an appearance on MTV Unplugged, a television program aired by MTV.[41] The show presented name artists "unplugged" or stripped of studio equipment.[41] While Carey felt strongly of her more soulful and powerful songs, it was decided that her most popular content would be included. Days before 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.[42] They chose "I'll Be There", a song made popular by The Jackson 5 in 1970. On March 16, 1992, Carey recorded a seven-piece set-list at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York.[43] The revue was met with critical acclaim, leading to it being aired more than three times as often as an average episode would.[44] The success tempted Sony officials to market it.[45] Sony decided to release it as an EP, priced low because it was short. The EP proved to be a success, contrary to critics and speculations that Carey was just a studio artist,[46] and was given a triple-Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[47] and managed Gold and Platinum certifications in several European markets.[45]

1993–96: Music Box, international breakthrough, and Daydream

"The writing partnership that her and I had and I can't speak for her other songwriting partners, but if you could see us in the room I would hit a chord and play a little melody on the piano and she would say, 'Oh, that's nice,' and she would sing that melody and then she adds a little bit to it. I would then play it back and then she would say, 'Yea, that's good' so it instantly becomes this partnership where eventually she'll have a melody and then the melody would prompt her to start thinking about this feeling she wants to put into words. This would eventually become the theme of the song."

—Afanasieff, on his songwriting partnership with Carey.[48]

During early 1993, Carey began working on her third studio album, Music Box.[49] 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.[49] During Carey's writing sessions, she began working mostly with Afanasieff, with whom she co-wrote and produced most of Music Box.[48] On August 31, Music Box was released around the world, debuting at number-one on the Billboard 200.[50] 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.[51] 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."[52] The album's second single, "Hero", would eventually come to be one of Carey's most popular and inspirational songs of her career.[53] The song became Carey's eighth chart topper in the United States,[53] 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,[54] and the United Kingdom.[55]

Music Box spent prolonged periods at number one on the album charts of several countries,[56] and eventually became one of the best-selling albums of all time, with worldwide sales of over 32 million copies.[48] 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.[57] Spanning only six dates across North America,[57] the short but successful tour was a large step for Carey, who dreaded the hassle of touring.[58] 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.[59] In October 1994, Billboard announced that Carey would release a holiday album later that year.[59] That 1994, Carey recorded a duet with Luther Vandross; a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's "Endless Love".[60] Carey's album Merry Christmas 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.[61] The album eventually became the best-selling Christmas album of all time, with global sales reaching over 15 million copies.[62][63][64] 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."[62] Rolling Stone described it as a "holiday standard", and ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list.[65] Commercially, it became the best-selling holiday ringtone of all time,[66] and the best-selling single by a non-Asian artist in Japan,[67] selling over 2.1 million units (both ringtone and digital download).[68][69] 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 late the following year.[70]

Carey performing "One Sweet Day" alongside Boyz II Men, during a taping at Madison Square Garden

Released on October 3, 1995, Daydream combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences.[71] 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.[72] The song remained atop the Hot 100 for a 16 weeks, and became the longest-running number-one song in history.[73] Daydream became her biggest-selling album in the United States,[74] and became her second album to be certified Diamond by the RIAA, following Music Box.[47] The album again was the best-seller by an international artist in Japan, shipping over 2.2 million copies,[75] and eventually reaching global sales of over 25 million units.[32] 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."[76] 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.[77] 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.[77] 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.[78] Daydream and its singles were respectively nominated in six categories at the 38th Grammy Awards.[79] Carey, along with Boyz II Men, opened the event with a performance of "One Sweet Day".[80] 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."[80] In 1995, due to Daydream '​s enormous Japanese sales, Billboard declared Carey the "Overseas Artist of the Year" in Japan.[81]

1997–2000: New image and independence, Butterfly, and Rainbow

With her following albums, Carey began to take more initiative and control with her music, and started infusing more genres into her work.[82] During mid-1997, Carey was well underway, writing and recording material for her next album, Butterfly (1997).[83] 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.[83] 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.[84] Aside from the album's different approach, critics took notice of Carey's altered style of singing, which she described as breathy vocals.[85] 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,[86] while others felt it was a sign of her weakening and waning voice.[87][88] 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.[89] Carey stated that Butterfly marked the point when she attained full creative control over her music.[90] 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."[89] Growing creative differences with producer Afanasieff continued, and eventually ended their working relationship, after collaborating on most of Carey's material.[91] 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."[92] 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.'"[93] The album was a commercial success, although not to the degree of her previous three albums.[91]

Toward the turn of the millennium, Carey began developing other projects.[94] 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.[95] Carey had begun developing a film project All That Glitters, later re-titled to simply Glitter,[96] and intended her songwriting to other projects, such as Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).[94] After Glitter fell into developmental hell, Carey postponed the project, and began writing material for a new album.[94] 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.[97] However, they disagreed as to what content and singles should constitute the album.[98] 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.[98] She felt that not including any new material would result in cheating her fans, therefore including four new songs that she had recorded.[98] While compromised, Carey often expressed distaste towards the album's song selection, expressing her disappointment in the omission of her "favorite songs".[99]

Carey at the Edwards Air Force Base during the making of the "I Still Believe" music video in December 1998.

The album, titled #1's (1998), featured a duet with Whitney Houston, "When You Believe", which was included on the soundtrack for The Prince of Egypt (1998).[98] 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.[100] 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."[101] #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.[102] When describing Carey's popularity in Japan throughout the 1990s, author Chris Nickson compared it to Beatlemania in the 1960s.[77] 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,[102] while amassing global sales of over 17 million copies.[103]

During the spring of 1999, Carey began working on the final album of her record contract with Sony, her ex-husband's label.[104] 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.[104] She felt Mottola was trying to separate her from Afanasieff, in hopes of keeping their relationship permanently strained.[105] 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.[106] 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?.[107] Carey also wrote two ballads with David Foster and Diane Warren, whom she seemingly used to replace Afanasieff.[107] 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.[108] Throughout early-2000, Carey's troubled relationship with Columbia grew, as they halted promotion after the album's first two singles.[108] They felt Rainbow didn't have any strong single to be released, whereas Carey wanted a ballad regarding personal and inner strength released.[108] 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.[109] 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."[110] Fearing to lose their label's highest seller, Sony chose to release the song.[110] 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.[110] 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."[111] Vibe magazine expressed similar sentiments, writing, "She pulls out all stops [...] Rainbow will garner even more adoration".[112] Though a commercial success, Rainbow became Carey's lowest selling album to that point in her career.[90]

2001–04: Glitter, Charmbracelet, personal and professional struggles

Carey, pictured with former Island Records head L.A. Reid in 2005, signed a recording contract with Island following her separation from Virgin

After she received Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium,[113] Carey parted from Columbia and signed a $100 million five-album recording contract with Virgin Records (EMI Records).[114] Carey was given full conceptual and creative control over the project.[114] 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.[115] 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,[116] and her relationship with the Latin icon Luis Miguel ended.[117] 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."[118] 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.[119] On July 19, 2001, Carey made a surprise appearance on the MTV program Total Request Live (TRL).[120] 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.[120] 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.[119] 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."[120] Following the quick removal of the messages, Berger commented that Carey had been "obviously exhausted and not thinking clearly" when she posted the letters.[121]

On July 26, she was suddenly hospitalized, citing "extreme exhaustion" and a "physical and emotional breakdown".[122] 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.[122] 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.[123] Consequently, critics suggested that in delaying Glitter, hype for the project would have largely subsided, and would possibly hurt both ticket and album sales.[124] 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.[125] Critics panned Glitter, as well as its accompanying soundtrack; both were unsuccessful commercially.[126] 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."[127] 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.[114][128] 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.[119] 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."[129] Later that year, she signed a contract with Island Records, valued at more than $24 million,[130] 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.[131]

Carey performing "Hero" during her Charmbracelet World Tour

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".[132] 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.[133] Towards the end of 2002, Carey released her next studio album Charmbracelet, which she said marked "a new lease on life" for her.[118] 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",[134] 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."[135] 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.[136] 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.[137] 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."[136] 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.[138] In the United Kingdom, it became Carey's first tour to feature shows outside of London, booking arena stops in Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.[139] 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.[140]

2005–07: Commercial success 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.[141] 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",[142] 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."[143] The album's second single, "We Belong Together", became a "career re-defining"[144] song for Carey, at a point when many critics had considered her career over.[145] Music critics heralded the song as her "return to form",[146] as well as the "return of The Voice",[146] while many felt it would revive "faith" in Carey's potential as a balladeer.[141] "We Belong Together" broke several records in the United States and became Carey's sixteenth chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100.[147] 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".[147] Billboard listed it as the "song of the decade" and the ninth most popular song of all time.[148] 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.[149]

Carey performing "Vision of Love" during The Adventures of Mimi Tour

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, "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".[152] 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.[153] 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.[154][155][156] To date, The Emancipation of Mimi has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.[157] At the 48th Grammy Awards, Carey performed a medley of "We Belong Together" and "Fly Like a Bird".[158]

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.[159] The tour spanned forty stops, with thirty-two in the United States and Canada, two in Africa, and six in Japan.[160] It received warm 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.[161][162] The tour proved successful, with Carey playing to over 60,000 fans in the two stops in Tunis alone.[163] The Adventures of Mimi DVD was released in November 2007 internationally and December 2007 in the US.

2008–09: E=MC² and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel

By spring 2007, Carey had begun to work on her eleventh studio album, E=MC², in a private villa in Anguilla.[164] When asked about the album title's meaning, Carey said "Einstein's theory? Physics? Me? Hello! ...Of course I'm poking fun."[165] She characterized it as "Emancipation of Mimi to the second power", and said that she was "freer" on this album than any other.[165] Although E=MC² was well received by most critics,[166] some of them criticized it for being very similar to the formula used on The Emancipation of Mimi.[167] 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.[168] 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."[169]

Carey at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, displaying her engagement ring

E=MC² debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, the biggest opening week sales of her career.[170] With six number one albums, Carey was 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 eight and Barbra Streisand's ten chart toppers.[38] 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.[171] That year, Carey also played an aspiring singer named Krystal in Tennessee[172] and had a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler's film You Don't Mess with the Zohan, playing herself.[173] Since the album's release, Carey had planned to embark on an extensive tour in support of E=MC².[174] However, even after a formal announcement, the tour was suddenly cancelled in early December 2008.[175] Carey later stated that she had been pregnant during that time period, and suffered a miscarriage, hence she cancelled the tour.[176][177] 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.[178] 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.[179]

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.[180] Variety described her acting as "pitch-perfect".[181] Precious won awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, receiving top honors there.[182][183] In January 2010, Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award for her role in Precious at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.[184] 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",[185] 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.[186] Commercially, the album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, and became the lowest-selling studio album of her career.[187] 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.[188] 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.[188] 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.[189]

On December 31, 2009, Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, which visited the United States and Canada.[190] 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.[191] 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).[192] The album was slated for a March 30, 2010 release, but was eventually cancelled.[193]

2010–present: Merry Christmas II You, American Idol, and Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse

Following the cancellation of Angels Advocate, it was announced that Carey would return to the studio to start work on her thirteenth studio album.[194] It was later revealed that it would be her second Christmas album, and follow-up to Merry Christmas.[63] 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.[195] The release date for the album, titled Merry Christmas II You, was November 2, 2010;[196] the track list included six new songs as well as a remix of "All I Want for Christmas Is You".[197] Merry Christmas II You debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with sales of 56,000 copies, becoming Carey's 16th top ten album in the United States.[198] 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.[199]

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.[200] 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".[201] In October 2011, Carey announced that she re-recorded "All I Want for Christmas Is You" with Justin Bieber as a duet for his Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe.[202][203] 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.[204] That same month, Carey released a duet with John Legend titled "When Christmas Comes", originally part of Merry Christmas II You.[205]

On March 1, 2012, Carey performed at New York City's Gotham Hall; her first time performing since pregnancy.[206][207] She also performed a three song set at a special fundraiser for US President Barack Obama held in New York's Plaza Hotel. 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, was also performed.[208] In August 2012, she released a stand alone single, "Triumphant (Get 'Em)", featuring American rappers Rick Ross and Meek Mill and co-written and co-produced by Carey, Jermaine Dupri, and Bryan-Michael Cox.[209][210] Carey joined the judging panel of American Idol season twelve as Jennifer Lopez's replacement, joining Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.[211][212] In November 2013, she explained about hating to work at American Idol adding, "It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan", referring to her on-set squabbles with Minaj.[213][214] 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.[215][216] Carey made guest voice-star as a redneck character on the adult animated series American Dad! on November 24, 2013.[217][218]

Carey singing "Beautiful" Live on Good Morning America, May 24, 2013

In February 2013 Carey recorded and released a song called "Almost Home", for the soundtrack of the Walt Disney Studios film Oz the Great and Powerful. The video was directed by photographer David LaChapelle.[219][220] News started coming around about the singer's fourteenth studio album.[221] Some of the people that Carey worked with on the album included: DJ Clue?, Randy Jackson, Q-Tip, R. Kelly, David Morales, Loris Holland, Stevie J, James Fauntleroy II, Ray Angry, Afanasieff, Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, James "Big Jim" Wright, Hit-Boy, The-Dream, Da Brat, and Rodney Jerkins. Carey told Billboard: "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".[222]

The lead single, "Beautiful" featuring singer Miguel, was released on May 6, 2013, and peaked at number 15 on the Hot 100.[223] 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.[224] On October 14, 2013, Carey announced that the album's former 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 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".[225] Following another song release, "You're Mine (Eternal)",[226] it was announced that The Art of Letting Go would no longer be the title of the album.[227] After the final name was announced, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse was released on May 27, 2014.[228]

Philanthropy and other activities

Carey is a philanthropist who has been involved with several charitable organizations.[229] She became associated with the Fresh Air 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.[229] 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.[230] Carey also donated royalties from her hits "Hero" and "One Sweet Day" to charities.[231] 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".[232][233] 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.[234] A percentage of the sales of MTV Unplugged was donated to various other charities.[234] In 2008, Carey was named Hunger Ambassador of the World Hunger Relief Movement.[235] In February 2010, the song, "100%", which was originally written and recorded for the film, Precious,[236] was used as one of the theme songs for the 2010 Winter Olympics, with all money proceeds going to Team USA.[237]

One of Carey's most high-profile benefit concert appearances was on VH1's 1998 [231]

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.[246] 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".[247] She signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, and in 2007, she released her own fragrance, "M".[248] In 2007, Forbes named her as the fifth richest woman in entertainment, with an estimated net worth of US$270 million.[249][250] In November 2011, it was reported that Carey's net worth was valued at more than $500 million.[2][211] On November 29, 2010, she debuted a collection on HSN, which included jewelry, shoes and fragrances.[251] 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 pounds (32 kg) on the program.[252] In 2013, human rights activists criticized Carey for performing in a concert for Angola's "father-daughter kleptocracy" and accused her of accepting "dictator cash".[253]


Musical style

Carey at Edwards Air Force Base during the making of "I Still Believe" video in 1998

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.[254] 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."[255] While reviewing Music Box, Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone commented that Carey sang with "sustained passion", while Arion Berger of Entertainment Weekly wrote that during some vocal moments, Carey becomes "too overwhelmed to put her passion into words."[256] 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."[257]

Carey's output makes use of electronic instruments such as drum machines,[141] keyboards and synthesizers.[258] Many of her songs contain piano-driven melodies,[259] as she was given piano lessons when she was six years old.[9] 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.[9] 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."[91] Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped to spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes.[260] 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.[261] From "Fantasy" (1995) onward, Carey enlisted both hip-hop and house producers to re-structure her album compositions.[80] 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.[262] 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.[260] 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".[263]

Voice and timbre

"I have nodules on my vocal cords. My mother says I've had them since I was a kid. That's why I have the high register and the belting register and I can still be husky. A lot of people couldn't sing through the nodules the way I do; I've learned to sing through my vocal cords. The only thing that really affects my voice is sleep. Sometimes if I'm exhausted, I can't hit the really high notes. My doctors showed me my vocal cords and why I can hit those high notes. It's a certain part of the cord that not many people use—the very top. My natural voice is low. I have a raspy voice. I'm really more of an alto. But my airy voice can be high if I'm rested. [...] When I was little, I'd talk in this really high whisper, and my mom would be like, 'You're being ridiculous'. I thought if I can talk like that I can sing like that. So I started just messing around with it. I'd practice and practice, and she'd be like, 'You're gonna hurt yourself'. I'd tell her, it doesn't hurt. If I were to try and belt two octaves lower than that, that would be a strain."

—Carey on her usage of the whistle register[99][264]

Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range,[265][266][267] and has the ability to reach notes beyond the 7th octave.[268][269] Referred to as the "songbird supreme" by the Guinness World Records,[270] 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."[271] She also placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists".[272]

Regarding her voice type, Carey said that she is an alto, though several critics have described her as a soprano.[273][274][275] 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.[276] Attempts have been made to adopt classical voice type terms to other forms of singing, but they are controversial,[276] because the development of classical voice categorizations were made with the understanding that the singer would amplify his or her voice with their natural resonators, without a microphone.[277]

Jon Pareles of The New York Times described Carey's lower register as a "rich, husky alto" that extends to "dog-whistle high notes".[278] Additionally, towards the late 1990s, Carey began incorporating breathy vocals into her material.[279] Tim Levell from the BBC News described her vocals as "sultry close-to-the-mic breathiness",[279] 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."[280]

Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker adds her timbre possesses various colors, saying, "Carey's sound changes with nearly every line, mutating from a steely tone to a vibrating growl and then to a humid, breathy coo. Her wide vocal range allows Carey to take melodies from alto bottom notes to coloratura soprano upper register."[62] Carey also possesses a "whisper register". In an interview with the singer, Ron Givens of Entertainment Weekly described it this way, "first, a rippling, soulful ooh comes rolling effortlessly from her throat: alto. Then, after a quick breath, she goes for the stratosphere, with a sound that nearly changes the barometric pressure in the room. In one brief swoop, she seems to squeal and roar at the same time."[281]

Her sense of pitch is admired[278] and Jon Pareles adds "she can linger over sensual turns, growl with playful confidence, syncopate like a scat singer... with startlingly exact pitch."[278]


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.[282] 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.[282] 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".[283] 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).[99] Carey was heavily influenced by Minnie Riperton, and began experimenting with the whistle register due to her original practice of the range.[99]

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,[284] 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".[285] 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".[285] 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".[285] Some have noted that unlike Houston and Dion, Carey co-writes and produces her own songs.[270]


Carey performing "Hero" live during The Neighborhood Inaugural Ball for President Obama

Carey's vocal style and singing ability have significantly impacted popular and contemporary music. As music critic G. Brown from [289] 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."[291]

The problem, however, is that for all her talent, the 36-year-old is first and foremost a STAR, the very epitome of pop opulence in today's celebrity-dependent culture. And thus, millions of young women and men wake up every morning and figure that, simply by imitating Carey's vocal derring-do, they too can wind up on the cover of People or on MTV Cribs or on the arm of record mogul Tommy Mottola.

—Sean Daly from St. Petersburg Times commenting on Carey's popularity and influence on aspiring singers and on worldwide talent shows.[292]

Among the hip hop, pop, and R&B artists who have cited Carey as an influence are; Ariana Grande,[293] Britney Spears,[294] Beyoncé,[62] Christina Aguilera,[295] Jessica Simpson,[280] Rihanna,[296] Grimes,[297] Kelly Clarkson,[298] Nelly Furtado,[299] Leona Lewis,[300] Brandy Norwood,[287] Pink,[301] Mary J. Blige,[302] Melanie Fiona,[303] Missy Elliott[62] and Jessica Sanchez[304] According to Stevie Wonder, "When people talk about the great influential singers, they talk about Aretha, Whitney and Mariah. That's a testament to her talent. Her range is that amazing."[112] Beyoncé 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.[62] Rihanna has stated that Carey is one of her major influences and idol.[296] Christina Aguilera said in the early stages of her career that Carey was a big influence in her singing career and one of her idols.[295] According to Pier Dominguez, author of Christina Aguilera: A star is made, 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 are of mixed heritage.[305] Philip Brasor, editor of The Japan Times, expressed how Carey's vocal and melismatic style even influenced Asian singers. He wrote that Japanese singer Utada Hikaru "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."[306]

In an article titled "Out With Mariah's Melisma, In With Kesha's Kick", writer David Browne of The New York Times discusses how the once ubiquitous melisma pop style suddenly lost in favor of the now ubiquitous autotune in which the former was heavily popularized by 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.)"[307]

Carey's usage of melisma throughout the song was credited with inspiring several vocalists and performers throughout the turn of 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.

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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."[62] 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."[308]

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.[309][310]

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Kelefa 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."[311] 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".[310] 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".[62] 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."[312] In a review of her Greatest Hits album, Devon Powers of PopMatters writes that "She has influenced countless female vocalists after her. At 32, she is already a living legend—even if she never sings another note."[313] 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."[314]

Personal life

Carey began dating Mottola while recording Music Box,[315] and married him on June 5, 1993.[106] 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.[316] 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.[316] The couple divorced in 1998.[317]

Carey met actor and comedian Nick Cannon while they shot her music video for her song "Bye Bye" on an island off the coast of Antigua.[318] On April 30, 2008, Carey married Cannon in The Bahamas.[319] 35 weeks into her pregnancy, she gave birth to their fraternal twins, Monroe and Moroccan, on April 30, 2011.[320] In August 2014, Cannon confirmed after much speculation that he and Carey had separated a few months earlier.[321]

Mariah Carey is a Christian. She said in 2006: "I do believe that I have been born again in a lot of ways. I think what I've changed are my priorities and my relationships with God. I feel the difference when I don't have my private moments to pray. ... I'm a fighter, but I learned that I'm not in charge. Whatever God wants to happen is what's going to happen. I feel like I've had endless second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances. It's by the grace of God I'm still here."[322]

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, and Billboard's Special Achievement Award for the Artist of the Decade during the 1990s.[323] In a career spanning over 20 years, Carey has sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the biggest-selling artists in music history.[324][325] Carey is ranked as the best-selling female artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era, with over 52 million copies sold.[326][327] 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".[272][328] 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."[329] According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States.[330] 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 multiplatinum status in Asia and Europe, such as Music Box and Number 1's.[328][331] She is also a recipient of the Chopard Diamond award in 2003, recognizing sales of over 100 million albums worldwide.[332] 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.[333][334] In Japan, Carey has the top four highest-selling albums of all time by a non-Asian artist.[335]

Carey has spent 79 weeks at the number-one position on Billboard Hot 100, the greatest number for any artist in US chart history.[336] On that same chart, she has accumulated 18 number-one singles, the most for any solo artist (and second after The Beatles).[337] 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.[63][64][338][339] 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.[340] 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.[341] 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.[327] After Carey's success in Asia with Merry Christmas, Billboard estimated Carey as the all-time best-selling international artist in Japan.[342] In 2008, Billboard listed "We Belong Together" ninth on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs[343] and second on Top Billboard Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[344] The song was also declared the most popular song of the 2000s decade by Billboard.[151] 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.[345] 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.[346] Also, she is the first female artist to debut at number 1 in the U.S. with "Fantasy".[328] 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.[347] In 2012, Carey was ranked second on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Women in Music".[348]




See also



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  • Appleman, Chris (1986). The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.  
  • James, Harold (1998). Guinness Rockopedia. Los Angeles: Guinness Publishing Ltd.  
  • Peckham, Anne (2005). Vocal Workouts for the Contemporary Singer. Boston: Berklee Press.  
  • Shapiro, Marc (2001). Mariah Carey: the unauthorized biography. Toronto: ECW Press.  
  • Mulholland, Garry (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. UK: Flame Tree Publishing.  
  • Fred Bronson's Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, 5th Edition (ISBN 0-8230-7677-6)
  • Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Sixties (ISBN 0-89820-074-1)
  • Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Nineties (ISBN 0-89820-137-3)
  • Additional information concerning Carey's chart history can be retrieved and verified in Billboard's online archive services and print editions of the magazine.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Billboard Artist of the Decade
Succeeded by
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