Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and occasional actress. She rose 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, Carey continued booking success with follow-up albums Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), and Merry Christmas (1994), and 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 it remains the longest-running number-one song in U.S. chart history. During the recording of the album, Carey began to deviate from her slower R&B and ballad-oriented beginnings and slowly transitioned into hip hop. This musical change became further established with the release of Butterfly (1997), which was released during the midst of her separation 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 and album’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 received 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 5 Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, and 14 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.
Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, New York. 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. Patricia was an occasional opera singer and vocal coach before she met Alfred in 1960. As he began earning a living as an aeronautical engineer, the couple wed later that year, and moved into a small suburb in New York. After 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. 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. Carey’s name was derived from the song “They Call the Wind Maria”, originally from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon. When Carey was three, her parents divorced.
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. 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. During elementary school, she excelled in subjects that she enjoyed, such as music, art, and literature, but did 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. 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. 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.”
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.” Carey and Christopher began writing and composing songs in the basement of his father’s store during Carey’s senior year. After composing their first song together, “Here We Go Round Again”, which Carey described as having a Motown vibe, they continued writing material for a full-length demo. She began living in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, which she shared with four other female students. Carey worked as a waitress for various restaurants, usually getting fired after two weeks. 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. After completing her four song demo tape, Carey attempted to pass it to music labels, but failed each time. Shortly thereafter, she was introduced to rising pop singer Brenda K. Starr.
Love is the subject of the majority of Carey’s lyrics, although she has written about themes such as racism, social alienation, death, world hunger, and spirituality. She has said that much of her work is partly autobiographical, but Time magazine wrote: “If only Mariah Carey’s music had the drama of her life. Her songs are often sugary and artificial—NutraSweet soul. But her life has passion and conflict,” applying it to the first stages of her career. He commented that as her albums progressed, so too her songwriting and music blossomed into more mature and meaningful material. Jim Faber of the New York Daily News, made similar comments, “For Carey, vocalizing is all about the performance, not the emotions that inspired it. Singing, to her, represents a physical challenge, not an emotional unburdening.” While reviewing Music Box, Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone commented that Carey sang with “sustained passion”, while Arion Berger of Entertainment Weekly wrote that during some vocal moments, Carey becomes “too overwhelmed to put her passion into words.” In 2001, The Village Voice wrote in regards to what they considered Carey’s “centerless ballads”, writing, “Carey’s Strawberry Shortcake soul still provides the template with which teen-pop cuties draw curlicues around those centerless [Diane] Warren ballads [.....] it’s largely because of [Blige] that the new R&B demands a greater range of emotional expression, smarter poetry, more from-the-gut testifying, and less [sic] unnecessary notes than the squeaky-clean and just plain squeaky Mariah era. Nowadays it’s the Christina Aguileras and Jessica Simpsons who awkwardly oversing, while the women with roof-raising lung power keep it in check when tune or lyric demands.”
Carey’s output makes use of electronic instruments such as drum machines, keyboards and synthesizers. Many of her songs contain piano-driven melodies, as she was given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said that she cannot read sheet music and prefers to collaborate with a pianist when composing her material, but feels that it is easier to experiment with faster and less conventional melodies and chord progressions using this technique. While Carey learned to play the piano at a young age, and incorporates several ranges of production and instrumentation into her music, she has maintained that her voice has always been her most important asset: “My voice is my instrument; it always has been.” Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped to spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes. Disc jockey David Morales has collaborated with Carey on several occasions, starting with “Dreamlover” (1993), which popularized the tradition of remixing R&B songs into house records, and which Slant magazine named one of the greatest dance songs of all time. From “Fantasy” (1995) onward, Carey enlisted both hip-hop and house producers to re-structure her album compositions. Entertainment Weekly included two remixes of “Fantasy” on a list of Carey’s greatest recordings compiled in 2005: a National Dance Music Award-winning remix produced by Morales, and a Sean Combs production featuring rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The latter has been credited with popularizing the R&B/hip-hop collaboration trend that has continued into the 2000s, through artists such as Ashanti and Beyoncé. Combs said that Carey “knows the importance of mixes, so you feel like you’re with an artist who appreciates your work—an artist who wants to come up with something with you”.happy wheels
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