Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and 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; “Vision of Love”, “Love Takes Time”, “Someday”, and “I Don’t Wanna Cry”. 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), and was awarded the “Breakthrough Performance Award” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
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.
Carey began dating Mottola while recording Music Box, and married him on June 5, 1993. After the release of Daydream and the success that followed, Carey began focusing on her personal life, which was a constant struggle at the time. Carey’s relationship with Mottola began to deteriorate, due to their growing creative differences in terms of her albums, as well as his controlling nature. The couple divorced in 1998.
Carey met actor and comedian Nick Cannon while they shot her music video for her song “Bye Bye” on an island off the coast of Antigua. On April 30, 2008, Carey married Cannon in The Bahamas. At 35 weeks into her pregnancy, she gave birth to their fraternal twins, Monroe and Moroccan, on April 30, 2011.
In August 2014, Cannon confirmed that he and Carey had separated a few months earlier. He filed for divorce in December 2014 after six years of marriage.
Carey is a Christian. She said in 2006: “I do believe that I have been born again in a lot of ways. I think what I’ve changed are my priorities and my relationships with God. I feel the difference when I don’t have my private moments to pray. … I’m a fighter, but I learned that I’m not in charge. Whatever God wants to happen is what’s going to happen. I feel like I’ve had endless second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances. It’s by the grace of God I’m still here.