Mariah Carey Biography
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American pop and R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Carey made her debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola and became the first recording act to have its 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.
Carey took more control over her image and music following her separation from Mottola in 1997, and she introduced elements of hip hop into her album material. Her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia in 2001, and she was dropped by Virgin Records the following year after a highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown and the poor reception of Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. In 2002 Carey signed with Island/Def Jam, and after an unsuccessful period she returned to the forefront of pop music in 2005.
In 2000 the World Music Awards named Carey the best-selling female artist of all time, and she has recorded the most U.S. number-one singles for a female artist. In addition to her commercial accomplishments, she is well-known for her melismatic singing voice, vocal range, power, and technical ability. Some critics have said that Carey's efforts to showcase her vocal talents have been at the expense of communicating true emotion through song.
Carey was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York. She is the third and youngest child of Patricia Hickey, a former opera singer and voice coach of Irish American extraction, and Alfred Roy Carey (formerly Nuñez), an aeronautical engineer of Venezuelan heritage. As a multiethnic family, the Careys endured racial slurs, hostility, and sometimes violence, causing the family to frequently relocate throughout the New York and Rhode Island areas. The strain on the family led to the divorce of Carey's parents when she was three years old.
Carey had little contact with her father, and her mother worked several jobs to support the family. Spending much of her time at home alone, Carey turned to music as an outlet. She began singing at around the age of three, performing for the first time in public during elementary school, and was writing her own songs by junior high. Carey graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York although she was frequently absent due to her popularity as a demo singer for local recording studios. Her renown within the Long Island music scene gave her opportunities to work with musicians such as Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies, with whom she co-wrote material for her demo tape. After moving to New York City, Carey worked numerous part-time jobs to pay the rent and completed five hundred hours of beauty school. Eventually, she became a backup singer for Puerto Rican freestyle singer Brenda K. Starr.
In 1988 Carey met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party, where Starr gave him Carey's demo tape. Mottola played the tape while leaving the party and was very impressed with what he heard. He returned to find Carey, but she had left. Nevertheless, Mottola tracked her down and signed her to a recording contract. This Cinderella-like story became part of the standard publicity surrounding Carey's entrance into the industry.
Carey began to take professional acting lessons in 1997, and within the coming year, she was auditioning for film roles. She made her debut as an opera singer in the romantic comedy The Bachelor (1999) starring Chris O'Donnell and Renée Zellweger, and CNN derisively referred to her casting as a talentless diva as "letter-perfect ... the "can't act" part informs Carey's entire performance".
Carey's first starring role was in Glitter (2001), in which she played a struggling musician in the 1980s who breaks into the music industry after meeting a disc jockey (Max Beesley). While Roger Ebert said "[Carey]'s acting ranges from dutiful flirtatiousness to intense sincerity", most critics panned it: Halliwell's Film Guide called it a "vapid star vehicle for a pop singer with no visible acting ability", and The Village Voice observed: "When [Carey] tries for an emotion—any emotion—she looks as if she's lost her car keys." Glitter was a box office failure, and Carey earned a Razzie Award for her role. She later said that the film "started out as a concept with substance, but it ended up being geared to 10-year-olds. It lost a lot of grit ... I kind of got in over my head." The film has consistently been ranked as one of the worst of all time in user voting at the Internet Movie Database.
Carey has said that from childhood she was stimulated by R&B and soul musicians such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and Al Green. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, and her favorite gospel singers include The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins. As Carey began to imbue her sound with hip hop, 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 Roof (Back in Time)" (1997).