Following her separation from Mottola in 1997, Carey introduced elements of hip hop into her album work, to much initial success, but her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia in 2001. She signed to Virgin Records but was dropped from the label and bought out of her contract the following year after a highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, as well as the poor reception given to Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. In 2002, Carey signed with Island Records, and after a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of pop music in 2005.
Carey has sold more than 175 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. She was named the best-selling female pop artist of the millennium at the 2000 World Music Awards. Carey is also the recipient of the Chopard Diamond Award at the 2003 World Music Awards, recognizing sales of over 100 million albums worldwide. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is the third best-selling female artist and sixteenth overall recording artist with shipments of over 63 million albums in the US.She is also ranked as the best-selling female artist of the U.S. Nielsen SoundScan era (third best-selling artist overall).
In 2008, Carey passed Elvis Presley for the most number-one singles for a solo artist in the United States with eighteen, only behind The Beatles. She also has 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 charts 52 year history. In addition to her commercial accomplishments, Carey has earned five Grammy Awards, and is well-known for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style, and use of the whistle register.
Childhood and youth
Carey was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York. She is the third and youngest child of Patricia Carey (née Hickey), a former opera singer and vocal coach, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. Her mother was Irish American and her father was of Afro-Venezuelan and African American descent; her paternal grandfather, Roberto Nuñez, changed his surname to Carey to better assimilate upon moving to the United States from Venezuela. Carey was named after the song "They Call the Wind Mariah". Carey's parents divorced when she was three years old. While living in Huntington, racist neighbors allegedly poisoned the family dog and set fire to her family's car. After her parents' divorce, Carey had little contact with her father, and her mother worked several jobs to support the family. Carey spent much of her time at home alone and turned to music to occupy herself. She began singing at around the age of three, when her mother began to teach her after Carey imitated her mother practicing Verdi's opera Rigoletto in Italian.
Carey graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York. She was frequently absent because of her work as a demo singer for local recording studios; her classmates consequently gave her the nickname "Mirage". Her work in 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 part-time jobs to pay the rent, and she completed 500 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 when leaving the party and was impressed. 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.
Early commercial success (1989–1992)
Carey co-wrote the tracks on her 1990 debut album Mariah Carey, and she has co-written most of her material since. During the recording, she expressed dissatisfaction with the contributions of producers such as Ric Wake and Rhett Lawrence, whom the executives at Columbia had enlisted to help make the album more commercially viable. Backed by a substantial promotional budget, the album reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for several weeks. It yielded four number-one singles and made Carey a star in the United States, but it was less successful in other countries. Critics rated the album highly, and Carey won Grammys for Best New Artist, and—for her debut single, "Vision of Love"—Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Carey conceived Emotions, her second album, as an homage to Motown soul music (see Motown Sound), and she worked with Walter Afanasieff and Clivillés & Cole (from the dance group C+C Music Factory) on the record. It was released soon after her debut album—in late 1991—but was neither as critically or commercially 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 whose first five singles have reached number one on the U.S. Hot 100 chart, although 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 has co-produced 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."
Although Carey performed live occasionally, stage fright prevented her from embarking on a major tour.Her first widely seen appearance was featured on the television show MTV Unplugged in 1992, and she remarked that she felt her performance that night proved her vocal abilities were not, as some had previously speculated, simulated with studio equipment.Alongside acoustic versions of some of her earlier songs, Carey premiered a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" with her back-up singer Trey Lorenz. The duet was released as a single, reached number one in the U.S., and led to a record deal for Lorenz, whose debut album Carey later co-produced. Because of high 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?."
International success (1993–1996)
Carey and Tommy Mottola had become involved romantically 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. The album maintained a presence on the Billboard 200 for a staggering 128 weeks. It yielded her first UK Singles Chart number-one, a cover of Badfinger's "Without You", and the U.S. number-ones "Dreamlover" and "Hero". Billboard magazine proclaimed it "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." In response to such comments, Carey said, "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." Most critics slighted the opening of her subsequent U.S. Music Box Tour.
"One Sweet Day" (1995)
Carey's collaboration with Boyz II Men is one of her biggest singles in the U.S.
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In late 1994, after her duet with Luther Vandross on a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's "Endless Love" became a hit, Carey released the holiday album Merry Christmas. It contained cover material and original compositions such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which became Carey's biggest single in Japan and, in subsequent years, emerged as one of her most perennially popular songs on U.S. radio. Critical reception of Merry Christmas was mixed, with Allmusic calling it an "otherwise vanilla set [...] pretensions to high opera on 'O Holy Night' and a horrid danceclub take on 'Joy to the World'." It became one of the most successful Christmas albums of all time.
In 1995, Columbia released Carey's fourth studio album, Daydream, which combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. A remix of "Fantasy", its first single, featured rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. 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."The New Yorker noted that "It became standard for R&B stars, like Missy Eliott and Beyonce, to combine melodies with rapped verses." John Norris of MTV News has stated that the remix was "responsible for, I would argue, an entire wave of music that we've seen since, and that is the pop-hip-hop collaboration. You could argue that the 'Fantasy' remix was the single most important recording she's ever made." Norris echoed the sentiments of TLC's Lisa Lopes, who told MTV that it's because of Mariah that we have "hip-pop." . Daydream became her biggest-selling album 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 Singles Chart for twelve weeks; "One Sweet Day" (a duet with Boyz II Men) spent a record-holding sixteen weeks at number one in the U.S.; and "Always Be My Baby" (co-produced by Jermaine Dupri) was the most successful record on U.S. radio in 1996, according to Billboard magazine. The album also generated career-best reviews for Carey, and publications such as The New York Times named it one of 1995's best albums; the Times 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." The short but profitable Daydream World Tour augmented sales of the album, which received six Grammy Award nominations.
New image and independence (1997–2000)
Carey at Edwards Air Force Base during the making
of "I Still Believe" video in 1998.
Carey and Mottola officially separated in 1997. 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. Soon after the separation, Carey hired an independent publicist and a new attorney and manager. She continued to write and produce for other artists during this period, contributing to the debut albums of Allure and 7 Mile through her short-lived imprint Crave Records.
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 when she attained full creative control over her music.However, she 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 generally 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—although not to the degree of her previous three albums—and "My All" (her thirteenth Hot 100 number-one) gave her the record for the most U.S. number-ones by a female artist.
Toward the turn of the millennium, Carey was developing the film project Glitter and wrote songs for the films Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). During the production of Butterfly, Carey became romantically involved with New York Yankees baseball star Derek Jeter. Their relationship ended in 1998, with both parties citing media interference as the main reason for the split. The same year, Columbia released the album #1's, a collection of Carey's U.S. number-one singles alongside new material, which she said was a way of rewarding her fans. The song "When You Believe", a duet with Whitney Houston, was recorded for the soundtrack of The Prince of Egypt (1998) and won an Academy Award. #1's sold above expectations, but a review in NME labeled 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, although her alleged prima donna behavior 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 and comprised more R&B/hip hop–oriented songs, many of them co-created with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. "Heartbreaker" and "Thank God I Found You" (the former featuring Jay-Z, the latter featuring Joe and boy band 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. A cover of Phil Collins's "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" went to number one in the UK after Carey re-recorded it with boy band Westlife. Media reception of Rainbow 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." VIBE magazine expressed similar sentiments, writing, "She pulls out all stops [...] Rainbow will garner even more adoration" but it became Carey's lowest-selling album up to that point, and there was a recurring criticism that the tracks were too alike. When the double A-side "Crybaby" (featuring Snoop Dogg)/"Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" became her first single to peak outside the U.S. top twenty, Carey accused Sony of underpromoting 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.
Personal and professional struggles (2001–2004)
After receiving Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award 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 "striptease". By the month's end, she had checked into a hospital, and her publicist announced that Carey was taking a break from public appearances.
Critics panned Glitter, Carey's much delayed semi-autobiographical film, and it was a box office failure.The accompanying soundtrack album, Glitter, was inspired by the music of the 1980s and featured collaborations with Rick James and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; it generated Carey's worst showing on the U.S. chart. 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."The lead single, "Loverboy" (featuring Cameo), reached number two on the Hot 100 due to the release of the physical single, but the album's follow-up singles failed to chart; however, a live rendition/medley of the single, "Never Too Far" made its way to #81.
Later in the year, Columbia released the low-charting compilation album Greatest Hits shortly after the failure of Glitter, and in early 2002, Virgin bought out Carey's contract for $28 million, creating further negative publicity. Carey later said 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."Later that year, she signed a contract with Island Records, valued at more than $22.5 million. 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.
In 2002, she performed the American national anthem in front of an audience at the Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Following a well-received supporting role in the 2002 film WiseGirls, Carey released the album Charmbracelet, which she said marked "a new lease on life" for her. Sales of Charmbracelet were moderate, and the quality of Carey's vocals came under severe criticism. The Boston Globe declared the album "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. The album's only charting single in America, "Through the Rain", was a failure on pop radio, which had become less open to maturing "diva" stylists such as Celine Dion, or Carey herself in favor of younger singers such as Christina Aguilera, who had vocal styles very similar to Carey's.
"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; it was also included on Columbia's release of The Remixes, a compilation of Carey's best remixes and some new tracks. That year, she embarked on the Charmbracelet World Tour and was awarded the Chopard Diamond award for selling more than 100 million albums worldwide. She was featured on rapper Jadakiss's 2004 single "U Make Me Wanna", which reached the top ten on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
Carey has made a legal threat against porn star Mary Carey, who believes the names are too similar.
Return to prominence (2005–2008)
Carey performing on her Adventures of Mimi Tour,
in Florida August 7, 2006.
Carey's tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), contained contributions from producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey's longtime collaborator, Jermaine Dupri. Carey said it was "very much like a party record [...] the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out [...] I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that." The Emancipation of Mimi became 2005's best-selling album in the U.S., and The Guardian reviewer defined it as "cool, focused and urban [... some of] the first Mariah Carey tunes in years I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again". The album earned Carey a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album, and the single "We Belong Together" won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. "We Belong Together" held the Hot 100's number-one position for fourteen weeks, her longest run at the top as a solo lead artist. Subsequently, the single "Shake It Off" reached number two for a week, making Carey the first female lead vocalist to have simultaneously held the Hot 100's top two positions. (While topping the charts in 2002, Ashanti was the "featured" singer on the #2 single.)
In mid-2006, Carey began The Adventures of Mimi Tour, which was the most successful of her career, although some dates had to be canceled. She appeared on the cover of the March 2007 edition of Playboy magazine in a non-nude photo session. In early 2007, she was featured with Bow Wow on the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony single "Lil' L.O.V.E.".
Carey performing "Touch My Body" on Good Morning America
on stage with her dancers in summer 2008.
By spring 2007, she had begun working on her eleventh studio album, E=MC². Asked about the album title's meaning, Carey said "Einstein's theory? Physics? Me? Hello! ...Of course I'm poking fun." She characterized the project as "Emancipation of Mimi to the second power", saying she was "freer" on this album than any other. Like her previous one, this album mainly concentrates on pop and R&B, but also borrows hip hop, gospel and even reggae ("Cruise Control") elements. Although E=MC² was well received by most critics, some of them criticized it for being "a clone of The Emancipation of Mimi".Bleu Magazine's critic said that the "facsimiles aren't terrible, they're just boring and forgettable at this point." Two weeks before the album's release, on April 2, 2008, "Touch My Body", her first single from the album, became Carey's eighteenth number-one single on the Hot 100, pushing her past Elvis Presley into second place for the most number-one singles among all artists in the rock era, according to Billboard magazine's revised methodology. Carey is now second only to The Beatles, who have twenty number-one singles. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, making it the biggest opening week sales of her career.
Carey's singles have collectively topped the charts for seventy-nine weeks, which places her just behind Presley, who topped the charts for a combined eighty weeks. 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, behind Madonna, in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Carey has also had notable success on international charts, though not to the same degree as in the United States. Thus far, she has had two number-one singles in Britain, two in Australia, and six in Canada. Her highest-charting single in Japan peaked at number two.
Carey and actor/comedian/rapper Nick Cannon met while they shot Carey's music video for her second single "Bye Bye" on a private island of the coast of Antigua. On April 30, 2008, Carey married Nick Cannon, at Carey's private estate on Windermere Island in The Bahamas. In October 2008, Carey was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009–2010)
Carey at the 82nd Academy Awards on
March 7, 2010
Carey performed "Hero" at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball after Barack Obama was sworn in as America's first African-American president on January 20, 2009. On July 7, 2009, Carey – alongside Trey Lorenz – performed her version of the Jackson 5 hit "I'll Be There" at the memorial service for Michael Jackson in the Los Angeles Staples Center. Carey was featured on "My Love", the second single from singer-songwriter The-Dream's album Love vs. Money.
Carey's twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel was released on September 25, 2009. The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics. John Bush 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 mid 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", became her 40th entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and her highest debut on the chart since "My All" in 1998. The song debuted at number eleven and peaked at number seven on the chart and became Carey 27th US top-ten hit, tying her with Elton John and Janet Jackson as the fifth most top-ten hits. Within hours after the song's release, various outlets speculated that its target was rapper Eminem, in response to his song "Bagpipes from Baghdad," in which he taunted Carey's husband, Nick Cannon by telling him to back off and that Carey is his. According to MTV, Carey alludes to drug problems in "Obsessed," which Eminem opened up about on his sixth studio album, Relapse. The album's follow-up singles failed to achieve commercial success. The second single, a cover of Foreigner's ""I Want to Know What Love Is", peaked at number 60 and the third single, "H.A.T.E.U.," failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100.
On December 31, 2009, Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, in the United States and Canada. Following the announcement of the "Angels Advocate Tour", it was announced that Carey will release a remix album titled Angels Advocate, containing remixes for the songs of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and a few new tracks. The purpose of the album was about ensuring that Memoirs appealed to more people by putting guests on 90% of the songs. In January 2010, "Up Out My Face" featuring Nicki Minaj and "Angels Cry" featuring Ne-Yo served as the lead singles from the album. The album was slated for a March 30, 2010 release in the United States. Later, due to the under-performance of the both singles on the charts, Carey's manager Chris Lighty announced that the album's release was canceled. In an interview with Ronan of the Jump Smokers, it was revealved that Island Def Jam is still planning to release the "MC vs JS" remix album on June 29, 2010. It will feature twelve new dance remixes of songs from Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel.
In February 2010, The song, "100%", which was originally written and recorded for the film, Precious, was used as one of the theme songs for the 2010 Winter Olympics, with all money proceeds going to Team USA.
New album (2010–present)
Following the cancellation of the Angels Advocate remix album, it was announced that Carey will go back to the studio to start work on new material for her 13th studio album and work on her second Christmas album. It has been confirmed that Carey is working on her second Christmas album due out in late 2010. It was confirmed that fashion photographer, David LaChapelle shot the album's artwork in which he told The Times on April 24, 2010. Carey is also currently working on her 13th studio album which is due for release in early 2011. Long time collaborators for the project include Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox and Teddy Riley. The album is being monitored by Dupri's "Living The Life" video blog. Dupri also stated that a single will be released by the end of the year for the new studio album. It has also just been revealed that Johnta Austin and Randy Jackson are also contributing to the project.
A guest at Carey and Cannon's re-commitment ceremony told the Chicago Sun-Times that Carey spoke at length about wanting to start a family. Without citing sources, the newspaper claimed she has "reportedly" undergone fertility treatments and is considering adoption.
Carey and Robert De Niro at the premiere of Tennessee at the Tribeca
Film Festival on April 26, 2008. Photograph
by David Shankbone.
Carey began to take professional acting lessons in 1997, and in 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. CNN referred derisively 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). Though 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, Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters co-starred as waitresses at a mobster-operated restaurant 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 (2006), a film about an unknown female boxer 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). Her television work has been limited to a January 2002 episode of Ally McBeal. Carey had a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler's 2008 film You Don't Mess with the Zohan, playing herself.
In 2006, Carey joined the cast of the indie film Tennessee (2008), taking the role of an aspiring singer who flees her controlling husband and joins two brothers on a journey to find their long-lost father. The movie received mixed reviews, but most of them raved about Carey's performance and praised it as "understated and very effective." In 2009, she appeared as a social worker in Precious, the movie adaptation of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film has garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, as has Carey's performance. Variety described her acting as "pitch-perfect". So far Precious has won awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, receiving top awards there. In January 2010, Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance award for her role in Precious at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
In May 2010, Carey, citing medical reasons, dropped out of her planned appearance in the film adaptation of the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.
Carey has said that from childhood she was influenced by R&B and soul musicians such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, and her favorite gospel singers include The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins. 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". 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).
During Carey's career, her vocal and musical style, along with her level of success, has been compared to Whitney Houston 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". 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 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". Some have noted that unlike Houston and Dion, Carey co-writes her own songs, and the Guinness Rockopedia (1998) classified her as the "songbird supreme". Despite the fact that Carey is often credited with co-writing her material, she has also been accused of plagiarism on several occasions. Many of these cases were eventually settled out of court.
According to Billboard and AllMusic, Mariah Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range. In 2003, her voice was ranked first in MTV and Blender magazine's 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."She was also placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists".According to experts, Carey can sing in the alto range as well as soprano range, and possesses "the agility to move between those roles with swiftness and aplomb". Carey's vocal trademark is her ability to sing in the whistle register. Carey has cited Minnie Riperton as the widest influence on her singing technique.
Describing Carey's voice, French-American baritone and professor in the Conservatoire de Paris Malcolm Walker said, "[Her] voice is tired, but it's very well led, especially in the piano register. There are a lot of air passing [...] She passes easily in head voice. It's her true voice. Light lyric soprano, the upper register is much more healthy than the low register. Then, there is the belting voice. It works very well. […] It’s the top of her voice, the diamond. But in the low register, it's tired, it's a worn instrument. […] The muscles were so drawn that it's distended." To describes Carey's vocal style, Sasha Frere-Jones writes, "The brutish purity of her voice places her in pop’s theatrical lineage, in the company of singers like Barbra Streisand, but Carey’s aesthetic is not Broadway, or even particularly white. She is essentially an R&B singer, steeped in gospel, soul, and, especially, hip-hop, and she is a master practitioner of melisma [...] Vision of Love is the Magna Carta of melisma. Whitney Houston popularized it, but Carey made melisma a required move for both R&B singers and contestants on American Idol. [...] [Vision of Love] begins with several bars of lovely, wordless melisma, as if Carey were warming up, and it ends with two very loud passages of melisma, one of them an a-cappella expansion on the word « all » [..] Calisthenics are only one aspect of Vision of Love, however. The chord changes, which are played on electric piano, are reminiscent of early Billy Joel—obvious, consonant, and rich. Carey’s sound changes with nearly every line, mutating from a steely tone to a vibrating growl and then to a humid, breathy coo.
Themes and musical style
"We Belong Together" (2005)
One of Carey's many love songs, and a Grammy Award winner for "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" and "Best R&B Song".
The first song that Carey was allowed to co-produce demonstrates the piano influence that permeates much of her music.
"My All" (1998): Classic Club mix
Remixes of Carey's singles by producers such as David Morales established her presence on the U.S. club scene.
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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." The Village Voice wrote in 2001 that, in that respect, Carey compared unfavorably with singers such as Mary J. Blige, saying "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 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 music, and 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. Some of her arrangements have been inspired by the work of musicians such as Stevie Wonder, a soul pianist to whom Carey once referred as "the genius of the [twentieth] century", but she has said, "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 several times, starting with "Dreamlover" (1993), which popularized 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, Carey enlisted 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 a Sean Combs production featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. The latter has been credited with popularizing the pop/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". 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 in U.S. nightclubs of the dance remixes, which often sound radically different from their album counterparts, has been known to eclipse the mainstream chart success of the original songs.
Philanthropy and other activities
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 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". 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. A percentage of the sales of MTV Unplugged was donated to various other charities. In 2008, Carey was named Hunger Ambassador of the World Hunger Relief Movement. She is giving a free download of her song, "Love Story", to customers who donate to the organization at participating restaurants.
One of Carey's most high-profile benefit concert appearances was on VH1's 1998 Divas Live special, during which 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 Divas 2000 special. In 2007, the Save the Music Foundation honored Carey at their tenth gala event for her support towards the foundation since its inception. She appeared at the America: A Tribute to Heroes nationally televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and in December 2001, she performed before peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. Carey 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 in London and at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon "Shelter from the Storm". 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". On September 5, the singers performed it live on TV.
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". According to Forbes, Carey was the sixth richest woman in entertainment as of January 2007, with an estimated net worth of US $225 million. Carey directed or co-directed several of the music videos for her singles during the 1990s. Slant magazine named the video for "The Roof (Back in Time)", which Carey co-directed with Diane Martel, one of the twenty greatest music videos of all time. In 2008, Carey made Time's annual list of 100 most Influential people. In January 2010, Carey announced via Twitter that she is launching a new rosé champagne brand called Angel Champagne.
Main articles: Mariah Carey albums discography, Mariah Carey singles discography, Mariah Carey videography, and List of Mariah Carey songs
Mariah Carey (1990)
Music Box (1993)
Merry Christmas (1994)
The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)
Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009)
MTV Unplugged (1992)
Greatest Hits (2001)
The Remixes (2003)
The Ballads (2008)
Playlist: The Very Best of Mariah Carey (2010)
List of awards received by Mariah Carey
Main article: List of Mariah Carey tours
Music Box Tour (1993)
Daydream World Tour (1996)
Butterfly World Tour (1998)
Rainbow World Tour (2000)
Charmbracelet World Tour (2003–2004)
The Adventures of Mimi Tour (2006)
Angels Advocate Tour (2010)
Year Film Role Notes and Awards
1999 The Bachelor Ilana
2001 Glitter Billie Frank 2001 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
2002 WiseGirls Raychel
2003 Death of a Dynasty Herself
2005 State Property 2 Dame's Wifey
2008 You Don't Mess with the Zohan Herself
2009 Tennessee Krystal
Precious Mrs. Weiss Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival
Supporting Actress of the Year at the Capri Hollywood International Film Festival
Nominated — Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress & Best Ensemble.
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture.
2010 Sex and the City 2 TBA
Year Title Role Notes
2002 Ally McBeal Candy Cushnip Episode "Playing with Matches"
2003 The Proud Family Herself Voice