Early life and discovery
Carey was born in Long Island, New York. She is the third and youngest child of
Patricia Hickey, a former opera singer and voice coach of Irish American Roman
Catholic extraction, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer of
Afro-Venezuelan descent. As a multiracial family, the Careys endured racial
slurs, hostility, and sometimes violence, causing the family to frequently
relocate in 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 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 the party 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.
1990–1992: Early commercial success
Carey co-wrote all of the original compositions on her 1990 debut album Mariah
Carey, and continued to co-write nearly all of her material for the rest of her
career, but expressed dissatisfaction with the contributions of producers such
as Ric Wake and Rhett Lawrence (who had been brought in by label executives).
With substantial promotion the album ascended to number one on the U.S.
Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for several weeks. It produced four
number-one singles and made Carey a star in the United States, but its success
elsewhere was limited. Critics rated the album highly, and Carey won Grammy
Awards for "Best New Artist" and "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" (for her
debut single "Vision of Love").
Carey's 1992 MTV Unplugged concert showed her ability to reproduce her vocal
style outside of a studio setting. Audio sample of "Emotions" (help·info)Emotions,
Carey's second album, was conceived as an homage to Motown soul music (see
Motown Sound) and saw Carey working with Walter Afanasieff and the dance group
C&C Music Factory. It was released soon after her debut album in the fall of
1991, but was neither critically nor commercially as successful; Rolling Stone
described it as "more of the same, with less interesting material ... pop-psych
love songs played with airless, intimidating expertise". The title track
"Emotions" made Carey the only recording act to have their first five singles
reach number-one on the U.S. Hot 100 chart, though the album's follow-up singles
failed to match this feat. Carey had been lobbying to produce her own songs, and
beginning with Emotions, she would co-produce most of her material. "I didn't
want [Emotions] to be somebody else's vision of me," she said. "There's more of
me on this album." She would also begin writing and producing for other
artists, such as Penny Ford and Daryl Hall, within the coming year.
Although she had occasionally performed live, stage fright had prevented Carey
from embarking on any major public tours. Her first widely-seen concert
appearance was on the television show MTV Unplugged in 1992, and she said she
felt that her performance proved her vocal abilities were not, as some had
previously speculated, simulated using studio techniques. In addition to
acoustic versions of some of her earlier songs, Carey premiered a cover of The
Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" with back-up singer Trey Lorenz. Released as a
single, the duet reached number one in the U.S. and led to a record deal for
Lorenz, whose debut album Carey produced. Because of strong ratings for the
Unplugged television special, the concert's set list was released on the EP MTV
Unplugged, which Entertainment Weekly called "the strongest, most genuinely
musical record she has ever made ... Did this live performance help her take her
first steps toward growing up?"
1993–1996: Worldwide popularity
Carey and Tommy Mottola had become romantically involved during the making of
her debut album, and in June 1993 they were married.
Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds consulted on the album Music Box, which was released
later that year and became Carey's most successful worldwide. It yielded her
first UK number-one, a cover of Badfinger's "Without You", as well as the U.S.
number-ones "Dreamlover" and "Hero". Billboard magazine proclaimed it as
"heart-piercing ... easily the most elemental of Carey's releases, her vocal
eurythmics in natural sync with the songs", but TIME magazine lamented
Carey's attempt at a mellower work: "[Music Box] seems perfunctory and almost
passionless ... Carey could be a pop-soul great; instead she has once again
settled for Salieri-like mediocrity." A subsequent U.S. tour was slated by
most critics. Carey said in a Vogue interview: "As soon as you have a big
success, a lot of people don't like that. There's nothing I can do about it. All
I can do is make music I believe in."
Carey and Boyz II Men recording "One Sweet Day" (1995), one of both acts'
biggest singles. Audio sample (help·info)Following a successful duet with Luther
Vandross on a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross' "Endless Love" in late
1994, Carey released the holiday album Merry Christmas. It contained both cover
material and original compositions such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You",
which became Carey's first Japanese number-one and in subsequent years emerged
as one of her most perennially popular songs on U.S. radio. Critical reception
to Merry Christmas was mixed, with All Music Guide dismissing it as an
"otherwise vanilla set... pretensions to high opera on 'O Holy Night' and a
horrid danceclub take on 'Joy to the World'". The album drew greater
approval from the public, and it became the most successful Christmas album of
In 1995 Carey released Daydream, which combined the pop sensibilities of Music
Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. Carey said that Columbia reacted
negatively to her intentions for the album: "Everybody was like 'What, are you
crazy?'. They're very nervous about breaking the formula." It became her
biggest-selling LP in the U.S., and its singles achieved similar success:
"Fantasy" became the second single to debut at number-one in the U.S. and topped
the Canadian charts for twelve weeks, "One Sweet Day" (with Boyz II Men) spent a
still-record sixteen weeks at number one in the U.S., and "Always Be My Baby"
(co-produced by Jermaine Dupri) led the Hot 100's 1996 year-end radio airplay
chart. Daydream generated career-best reviews for Carey and was named one of
1995's best albums by publications such as The New York Times, which wrote that
its "best cuts bring pop candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement ...
Carey's songwriting has taken a leap forward, becoming more relaxed, sexier and
less reliant on thudding clichés". Sales of the album were augmented by a
highly profitable world tour, and it received six Grammy Award nominations.
1997–2000: Independence and new image
Carey and Mottola separated in 1996. Although the public image of the marriage
was a happy one, she said that in reality she had felt trapped by her
relationship with Mottola, whom she often described as controlling. They
officially announced their separation in 1997, and their divorce became final
the following year. Carey hired a new attorney and manager soon after the
separation, as well as an independent publicist. She became a major songwriter
and producer for other artists during this period, contributing to the debut
albums of Allure, 7 Mile and Blaque through her short-lived Crave Records
"Honey" (1997), Carey's first heavily hip hop-influenced single, presented a
more overtly sexual image of her than had been previously seen. Audio sample (help·info)Carey's
next album Butterfly (1997) yielded the number-one single "Honey", the lyrics
and music video for which presented a more overtly sexual image of her than had
been previously seen. She stated that Butterfly marked the point that she
attained full creative control over her music, which continued to move in an
R&B/hip hop direction with material co-written and produced by rappers such as
Sean "Puffy" Combs and Missy Elliott, but added: "I don't think 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 was going to be a rapper. Personally, this album is about doing
whatever the hell I wanted to do." Reviews were almost uniformly positive: LAUNCHcast said Butterfly "pushes the envelope", a move its critic thought "may
prove disconcerting to more conservative fans" but praised as "a welcome
change". The Los Angeles Times wrote: "[Butterfly] is easily the most
personal, confessional-sounding record she's ever done ... Carey-bashing just
might become a thing of the past." The album was a commercial success, and
"My All" (her thirteenth Hot 100 number-one) gave her the record for the most
U.S. number-ones by a female artist. Towards the turn of the millennium, Carey
developed the film project All That Glitters, and she also wrote songs for the
films Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).
During the production of Butterfly, Carey became involved with New York Yankees
baseball player Derek Jeter. Their relationship ended in 1998, with both parties
citing media interference as the main reason for the split. That year saw
the release of the album #1's, a collection of her U.S. number-one singles up to
that point. Carey said she recorded new material for the album as a way of
rewarding her fans, and it also included "When You Believe", an Academy
Award-winning duet with Whitney Houston from the soundtrack to The Prince of
Egypt. #1's sold above expectations, but a review in NME labelled Carey "a
purveyor of saccharine bilge like 'Hero', whose message seems wholesome enough:
that if you vacate your mind of all intelligent thought, flutter your eyelashes
and wish hard, sweet babies and honey will follow". Also that year she
appeared on the first televised VH1 Divas benefit concert program, though her
alleged prima donna behaviour had already led many to consider her a diva.
By the following year, she had entered a relationship with singer Luis Miguel.
Rainbow, Carey's sixth studio album, was released in 1999. It was again
comprised of more R&B/hip hop-oriented songs, many of them co-created with Jimmy
Jam and Terry Lewis. Both "Heartbreaker" and "Thank God I Found You" (the former
featuring Jay-Z, the latter featuring Joe and boyband 98 Degrees) reached number
one in the U.S., and the success of the former made Carey the only act to have a
number-one single in each year of the 1990s. Media reception was generally
enthusiastic, with the Sunday Herald saying the album "sees her impressively
tottering between soul ballads and collaborations with R&B heavyweights like
Snoop Doggy Dogg, Usher ... It's a polished collection of pop-soul." Similar
sentiments were expressed in VIBE magazine, which wrote, "She pulls out all
stops...Rainbow will garner even more adoration", but despite this it became
Carey's lowest-selling LP up to that point, and there was a recurring criticism
that the tracks were too alike. When the double A-side "Crybaby"/"Can't Take
That Away (Mariah's Theme)" became her first single to peak outside of the top
twenty, Carey accused Sony of under promoting it: "The political situation in my
professional career is not positive ... I'm getting a lot of negative feedback
from certain corporate people", she wrote on her official website.
2001–2004: Personal and professional struggles
After receiving Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award (see Billboard Music
Awards) and the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female Artist of the
Millennium, Carey parted from Columbia and signed a contract with EMI's Virgin
Records worth a reported US$80 million. 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 complaining of being overworked, and her
relationship with Luis Miguel was ending. 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 be doing interviews all day long, getting two hours of sleep a
night, if that." During an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, Carey
handed out popsicles to the audience and began what was later described as a
"strip tease". By the month's end, she had checked into a hospital,
and her publicist announced that she would be taking a break from public
A scene from Carey's film Glitter (2001).Critics panned Glitter, Carey's much
delayed semi-autobiographical film, and it was a box office failure. The album
Glitter, inspired by the music of the 1980s, generated her worst showing on the
U.S. charts. 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", while
Blender magazine opined, "After years of trading her signature flourishes for a
radio-ready purr, [Carey]'s left with almost no presence at all." "Loverboy"
reached number two on the Hot 100 thanks to a price cut, but the album's
follow-up singles failed to chart.
Columbia released the album Greatest Hits shortly following the failure of
Glitter, and in early 2002 Virgin bought out Carey's contract for $28 million,
which created further negative publicity. Carey said that her time at Virgin had
been "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." Later that year, she signed a $20 million contract with
Island Records' Def Jam and launched the record label MonarC. To add further to
Carey's emotional burdens, her father died of cancer that summer.
Following a well-received supporting role in the film WiseGirls, Carey released
the album Charmbracelet, which she said marked "a new lease on life" for
her. Sales of Charmbracelet were lukewarm, and the quality of Carey's vocals
came under severe criticism. The Boston Globe declared the album as "the worst
of her career, revealing a voice no longer capable of either gravity-defying
gymnastics or soft coos", and Rolling Stone commented: "Carey needs bold
songs that help her use the power and range for which she is famous. Charmbracelet is like a stream of watercolors that bleed into a puddle of
brown." Singles such as "Through the Rain" failed on the charts and with pop
radio, whose playlists had become less open to maturing "diva" stylists such as
Carey, Whitney Houston and Céline Dion.
"I Know What You Want", a 2003 Busta Rhymes single on which Carey guest-starred,
fared considerably better and reached the U.S. top five. Columbia later included
it on the remix collection The Remixes, Carey's lowest-selling album. That year,
she was awarded the World Music Chopard Diamond Award for selling over 100
million albums worldwide. In 2004 she was featured on rapper Jadakiss'
single "U Make Me Wanna", which reached the top ten on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop
2005–2007: Resurgence 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. 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,"
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." The album's
second single, "We Belong Together," became a "career re-defining" song for Carey, at a
point when many critics had considered her career over. Music critics heralded the song as her
"return to form," as well as the "return of The Voice," while many felt it
would revive "faith" in Carey's potential as a balladeer. "We Belong Together"
broke several records in the United States and became Carey's sixteenth chart topper on the Billboard
Hot 100. 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." Billboard listed it as the "song of the decade"
and the ninth most popular song of all time. 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.
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,
"Shake It Off" moved into the number two spot (Ashanti had topped the chart in 2002 while being
a "featured" singer on the number two single). On the Billboard Hot 100 Year-end Chart of 2005,
the song was declared the number one song, a career first for Carey. Billboard listed "We Belong Together"
ninth on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and was declared the most popular song of the 2000s
decade by Billboard. The album earned ten Grammy Award nominations in 2006–07: eight in 2006 for the
original release (the most received by Carey in a single year), and two in 2007 for the Ultra Platinum
Edition (from which "Don't Forget About Us" became her seventeenth number-one hit).
In 2006 Carey won 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." 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.
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. To date, The Emancipation of Mimi has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
At the 48th Grammy Awards, Carey performed a medley of "We Belong Together" and "Fly Like a Bird."
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. The tour spanned forty stops,
with thirty-two in the United States and Canada, two in Africa, and six in Japan. 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. Carey played to about 60,000 fans in the two shows in Tunis. The Adventures of Mimi DVD
was released in November 2007 internationally and December 2007 in the US.
2008–09: E=MC², Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, and Precious
By spring 2007, Carey had begun to work on her eleventh studio album, E=MC², in a private villa
in Anguilla. Although E=MC² was well received by most critics, some of them criticized it for being very similar
to the formula used on The Emancipation of Mimi. 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. 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.
E=MC² debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, the biggest opening week sales
of her career. In 2008, Carey also played an aspiring singer named Krystal in Tennessee and had a cameo
appearance in Adam Sandler's film You Don't Mess with the Zohan, playing herself. Since the album's release,
Carey had planned to embark on an extensive tour in support of E=MC². However the tour was suddenly cancelled
in early December 2008. Carey later stated that she had been pregnant during that time period, and suffered
a miscarriage, hence she cancelled the tour. 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. 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.
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, also for Carey's performance. Variety described her
acting as "pitch-perfect." In January 2010, Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award
for her role in Precious at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. On September 25, 2009, Carey's
twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, was released. Reception for the album was mostly mixed;
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called it "her most interesting album in a decade," 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. Commercially, the album debuted
at number three on the Billboard 200, and became the lowest-selling studio album of her career. The album's lead
single, "Obsessed," 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. The album's
follow-up single, a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is," 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
On December 31, 2009, Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, which visited the United States
and Canada and ended on September 26, 2010. A planned remix album of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel; titled Angels
Advocate was slated for a March 30, 2010 release, but was eventually cancelled.
2010–2014: 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. It was later revealed that it would be her
second Christmas album, and follow-up to Merry Christmas. 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.
The release date for the album, titled Merry Christmas II You, was November 2, 2010; the track list included six
new songs as well as a remix of "All I Want for Christmas Is You." 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.
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.
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. 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?" 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. 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. That same month, Carey released a duet with John Legend
titled "When Christmas Comes," originally part of Merry Christmas II You.
On March 1, 2012, Carey performed at New York City's Gotham Hall; her first time performing since pregnancy. 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. 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. Carey joined the judging panel of American Idol season twelve as
Jennifer Lopez's replacement, joining Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban. 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. 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. Carey made guest voice-star
as a redneck character on the adult animated series American Dad! on November 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. News started
coming around about the singer's fourteenth studio album. 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."
The lead single, "Beautiful" featuring singer Miguel, was released on May 6, 2013, and peaked at number 15 on the Hot
100. 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. 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." Following another song release,
"You're Mine (Eternal)," it was announced that The Art of Letting Go would no longer be the title of the album.
After the final name was announced, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse was released on May 27, 2014.
In October 2014, Carey announced All I Want For Christmas Is You, A Night of Joy & Festivity, an annual residency show at the
Beacon Theatre in New York City. The first leg included six shows, running from December 15–22, 2014.
Carey announced the second leg in October 2015. The second leg ran for 8 shows, from December 8–18, 2015.
2015–present: Residency show, A Christmas Melody and Mariah's World
On January 15, 2015, Carey announced her Number Ones residency at The Colosseum at Caesars
Palace in Las Vegas. On January 30, it was announced that Carey has left Universal Music Group's Def
Jam Recordings to re-unite with L.A. Reid and Sony Music via Epic Records.
To coincide with the residency, Carey released #1 to Infinity, a greatest hits compilation which contains
all of her eighteen Billboard Hot 100 number one singles, along with a new recording, "Infinity,"
which was released as a single on April 27. In 2015 Carey had her directorial debut for the Hallmark Channel
Christmas movie A Christmas Melody, in which she also performed as one of the main characters. Filming for
the project took place during October 2015. In December 2015, Carey announced The Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour
which will span a total of 27-dates beginning in March 2016 marking the first time the singer has done a
significant tour of mainland Europe in 13 years. Four stops will include shows in South Africa.
On March 15, 2016, Carey announced that she was filming Mariah's World, a docu-series for the E! network
documenting her Sweet Sweet Fantasy European tour and her wedding planning process. Carey told The New York Times,
"I thought it would be a good opportunity to kind of, like, show my personality and who I am, even though I
feel like my real fans have an idea of who I am... A lot of people have misperceptions about this and that."
The series premiered on December 4, 2016.
Carey made a cameo in the 2017 comedy film Girls Trip, starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall.
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
Carey's first starring role was in Glitter (2001), and in it 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."
Carey (left), with Melora Walters and Mira Sorvino, in WiseGirls (2002).Carey,
Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters co-starred as waitresses at a restaurant run by
mobsters in the independent film WiseGirls (2002), which premiered at the
Sundance Film Festival but went straight to cable in the U.S. Critics commended
Carey for her efforts: the Hollywood Reporter predicted, "Those scathing notices
for Glitter will be a forgotten memory for the singer once people warm up to
Raychel", and Roger Friedman, referring to her as "a Thelma Ritter for the
new millennium", said, "Her line delivery is sharp and she manages to get the
right laughs". WiseGirls producer Anthony Esposito cast Carey in The Sweet
Science, a film about an unknown female boxer who is recruited by a boxing
manager, but it never entered production.
Carey was one of several musicians who appeared in the independently-produced
Damon Dash films Death of a Dynasty (2003) and State Property 2 (2005), while
her television work has been limited to a January 2002 episode of Ally McBeal.
Carey joined the cast of the indie film Tennessee in 2006, taking the role of a
waitress who travels with her two brothers to find their long-lost father.
Carey has said that from childhood she was stimulated by soul and R&B musicians
such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and Al
Green. Her music also contains strong influences of gospel music, and her
favourite 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 single "The Roof (Back in Time)" (1998).
Carey performing in December 1998.Carey's debut album received criticism for
being too similar in style to the work of Whitney Houston, and throughout her
career, Carey's vocal and musical style, along with her level of success, have
been compared to Houston and Céline 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". In She Bop II: The
Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul (2002), 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". Carey's musical transition and the 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 had been
"schmaltzy MOR". Some have noted that unlike Houston and Dion, Carey writes all
of her own songs, and the Guinness Rockopedia (1998) classified her as the
"songbird supreme". As of 2006 Carey had received a career-total of five
Carey can cover all the notes from the alto vocal range leading to those of a
coloratura soprano, and her vocal trademark is her ability to sing in the
whistle register. She has cited Minnie Riperton as the greatest influence on her
singing technique, and from a very early age, she would attempt to emulate
Riperton's high notes, to increasing degrees of success as her vocal range
expanded. According to most sources, she has a five-octave vocal range, though
some credit her with as many as eight octaves. In 2003 her voice was voted
the greatest in music in MTV and Blender magazine's countdown of the 22 Greatest
Voices in Music. 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."
Carey's voice has come under considerable scrutiny from critics who believe that
she does not effectively communicate the message of her songs. Rolling Stone
magazine said in 1992, "Carey has a remarkable vocal gift, but to date,
unfortunately, her singing has been far more impressive than expressive ... at
full speed her range is so superhuman that each excessive note erodes the
believability of the lyric she is singing." The New York Daily News wrote
that Carey's singing "is ultimately what does her in. For Carey, vocalizing is
all about the performance, not the emotions that inspired it ... Does having a
great voice automatically make you a great singer? Hardly." Some interpreted
Carey's decision to utilise what she described as "breathy" vocals in some of
her late 1990s and early 2000s work as a sign that her voice had begun to
deteriorate, but she has maintained that it "has been here all along". An
article in Vibe magazine indicated that Carey's singing style highlights
weaknesses in other aspects of her music: "The impressiveness of her voice—as
well as her tendency to oversing—make the blandness of her material all the more
Themes and musical style
Love is the subject of the majority of Carey's lyrics, although she has also
written about themes such as racism, death 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."
Carey's output makes great use of electronic instruments such as drum machines,
synthesizers and keyboards. Many of her songs contain piano music, and she was
given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said in one interview 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. Some
of her arrangements have been inspired by the work of musicians such as Stevie
Wonder, a soul/R&B pianist whom Carey once referred to as "the genius of the
[20th] century", but she has said "My voice is my instrument; it always has
been." Butterfly Melodies, a tribute album containing piano renditions of
some of Carey's songs, was released by Vitamin Records in 2005.
Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped
spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes. Disc jockey
David Morales has collaborated with Carey several times, starting with
"Dreamlover" (1993), which popularised the tradition of remixing pop songs into
house records and which Slant magazine named one of the greatest dance songs of
all time. From "Fantasy" (1995) onward, she would enlist both hip hop and
house producers to re-imagine 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 another featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, and the latter has been
credited with initiating the trend of the pop/hip hop collaboration which has
continued into the 2000s through artists such as Beyoncé Knowles and
Ashanti. Sean Combs, who co-produced the hip hop remix, 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". She continues to consult on remixes by producers such as Morales, Jermaine Dupri, Junior Vasquez and DJ Clue, and guest performers contribute
frequently to them. The popularity of these remixes, which often sound radically
different from their album counterparts, has been known to eclipse the success
of the original songs.
Philanthropy and other activities
Carey with children at the Fresh Air Fund's Camp Mariah.Carey is a
philanthropist who has donated time and money to organizations such as the Fresh
Air Fund. She became associated with the 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. 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. She is also well-known nationally for her work with
the Make-A-Wish Foundation in granting the wishes of children with
life-threatening illnesses, has volunteered for the New York City Police
Athletic League and contributed to the obstetrics department of New York
Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Medical Center. A percentage of the sales of MTV
Unplugged was donated to various other charities.
One of Carey's most high-profile benefit concert appearances was on VH1's Divas
Live special in 1998, where she performed alongside other female singers in
support of the Save the Music Foundation. The concert was a ratings success, and
Carey participated in the 2000 special. She appeared at the America: A Tribute
to Heroes nationally televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11,
2001 attacks, and in December 2001 she performed before peacekeeping troops in
Kosovo. Carey also hosted the CBS television special At Home for the Holidays,
which documented real-life stories of adopted children and foster families, and
she has worked with the New York City Administration for Children's Services. In
2005 Carey performed for Live 8 and at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon
Shelter from the Storm.
Carey has participated in endorsements for Berlitz Language Schools and the Aeon
English College in Japan, Nescafé coffee, and Intel Centrino personal
computers. In early 2006 she launched a jewelry and accessories line for
teenagers, "Glamorized", in U.S. Claire's and Icing stores. Later that year
it was announced she had signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company
Elizabeth Arden to release a fragrance in 2007.. During this period, as part
of a promotion for Pepsi and Motorola, Carey produced a series of exclusive ringtones
and starred in a television advertisement.
In August 2008, Carey and other singers recorded the charity single, "Just Stand Up"
produced by Babyface and L. A. Reid, to support "Stand Up to Cancer." In 2008,
Carey performed in a New Year's Eve concert for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi,
something she later claimed to "feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in."
In March 2011, Carey's representative Cindi Berger stated that royalties for the song "Save The Day,"
which was written for her fourteenth studio album, will be donated to charities that create awareness
to human rights issues to make amends for the Gadaffi error. Berger also said that "Mariah has and
continues to donate her time, money and countless hours of personal service to many organizations both
here and abroad."
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. 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."
She signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, and in 2007, she released her own
fragrance, "M." The Elizabeth Arden deal has netted her $150 million. In 2007, Forbes named her
as the fifth richest woman in entertainment, with an estimated net worth of US$270 million. In November 2011,
it was reported that Carey's net worth was valued at more than $500 million. On November 29, 2010, she
debuted a collection on HSN, which included jewelry, shoes and fragrances. 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.
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."