[ Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 ]
|Born||March 27, 1970 (age 48)|
|Profession||Record producer, Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Model, Composer, Author, Actor, Film Producer|
|Spouse||Tommy Mottola (m. 1993; div. 1998) Nick Cannon (m. 2008; div. 2016)|
|Parents||Alfred Roy Carey, Patricia Hickey|
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer and songwriter. Referred to as the "Songbird Supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she is noted for her five-octave vocal range, vocal power, melismatic style, and signature use of the whistle register.
After signing to Columbia Records, she released her debut album, Mariah Carey (1990), which spawned four number-one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart: "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," and "I Don't Wanna Cry." She followed this chart success with the number-one single "Emotions", from the album of the same name, making her the first and only artist to have their first five singles reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Following her marriage to Sony Music head Tommy Mottola, Carey became the label's highest-selling act with the albums Emotions Music Box (1993), Merry Christmas (1994), and Daydream (1995). These albums spawned a string of successful singles including the international number-one "Without You," holiday track "All I Want for Christmas Is You," and "One Sweet Day," which became the longest-running U.S. number-one single in history with a total of 16 weeks. After divorcing Mottola, Carey adopted a new image and incorporated more elements of hip hop into her music with the release of Butterfly (1997). Billboard named her the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States, while World Music Awards honored her as the world's best-selling recording artist of the 1990s.
Carey parted with Columbia in 2000, and signed a record-breaking $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records. In the weeks prior to the release of her film Glitter and its accompanying soundtrack in 2001, she suffered a physical and emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for severe exhaustion. The project was poorly received and led to a general decline in the singer's career. Carey's recording contract was bought out for $50 million by Virgin and she signed a multi-million dollar deal with Island Records the following year. After a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). It became the world's second best-selling album of 2005 and produced "We Belong Together," which made her the only artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 Decade-End chart twice. Carey revived her film career with a supporting role in Precious (2009), which earned her 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. According to the RIAA, 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, she was ranked second on VH1's list of the 100 greatest female artists in music history. Aside from her commercial accomplishments, Carey has won 5 Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 10 American Music Awards, and 14 Billboard Music Awards, and has been consistently credited with inspiring a generation of singers.
Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, New York. Her father, Alfred Roy Carey, was of African American and Afro-Venezuelan descent, while her mother, Patricia (née Hickey), is of Irish descent. The last name Carey was adopted by her Venezuelan grandfather, Francisco Núñez, after he came 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 for marrying a black man. Carey later explained that growing up, she felt neglected by her maternal family, which greatly affected her. During the years between the births of Carey's older sister Alison and herself, the Carey family struggled within the community due to their ethnicity. Carey's name was derived from the song "They Call the Wind Maria," originally from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon. When Carey was three, her parents divorced.
After their separation, Alison moved in with her father, while the other two children, Mariah and brother Morgan, remained with their mother. Carey would grow apart from her father, and would later stop seeing him altogether. By the age of four, Carey recalled that she had begun to sneak the radio under her covers at night, and just sing and try to find peace within the music. During elementary school, she excelled in subjects that she enjoyed, such as music, art, and literature, but did not find interest in others. After several years of financial struggles, Patricia earned enough money to move her family into a stable and more affluent sector in New York. Carey had begun writing poems and adding melodies to them, thus starting as a singer-songwriter while attending Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, where she graduated in 1987. Carey excelled in her music, and demonstrated usage of the whistle register, though only beginning to master and control it through her training with her mother. Though introducing her daughter to classical opera, Patricia never pressured her to pursue a career in it, as she never seemed interested. Carey recalled that she kept her singer-songwriter works a secret and noted that Patricia had "never been a pushy mom. She never said, 'Give it more of an operatic feel.' I respect opera like crazy, but it didn't influence me."
While in high school, Carey began writing songs with Gavin Christopher. They needed an assistant who could play the keyboard: "We called someone and he couldn't come, so by accident we stumbled upon Ben [Margulies]. Ben came to the studio, and he really couldn't play the keyboards very well – he was really more of a drummer – but after that day, we kept in touch, and we sort of clicked as writers." Carey and Christopher began writing and composing songs in the basement of his father's store during Carey's senior year. After composing their first song together, "Here We Go 'Round Again," which Carey described as having a Motown vibe, they continued writing material for a full-length demo. She began living in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, which she shared with four other female students. Carey worked as a waitress for various restaurants, usually getting fired after two weeks. While requiring work to pay for her rent, Carey still had musical ambitions, as she continued working late into the night with Margulies in hopes of completing a demo. After completing her four song demo tape, Carey attempted to pass it to music labels, but failed each time. Shortly thereafter, she was introduced to rising pop singer Brenda K. Starr.
1988–1992: Mariah Carey and Emotions
As Starr's friendship with Carey grew, so did her interest in helping Carey succeed in the industry. In December 1988, Carey accompanied Starr to a record executives' gala, where she handed her demo tape to the head of Columbia Records, Tommy Mottola, who listened to it on his way back home. After the first two songs, he was interested in her; later, after searching for Carey for two weeks, he immediately signed her and began mapping out her commercial debut. While she maintained that she wanted to continue working with Margulies, Mottola enlisted top producers of the time, including Ric Wake, Narada Michael Walden and Rhett Lawrence. Mottola and the staff at Columbia had planned to market Carey as their main female pop artist, competing with Whitney Houston and Madonna (signed to Arista and Sire Records respectively). After the completion of her debut album, Mariah Carey, Columbia spent more than $1 million promoting it. Despite a weak start, the album eventually reached the top of the Billboard 200, after Carey's exposure at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards. Mariah Carey stayed atop the charts for eleven consecutive weeks, and she won the Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance awards for her single "Vision of Love." In addition to "Vision of Love," the album yielded the Billboard Hot 100 number one singles "Love Takes Time," "Someday," and "I Don't Wanna Cry." Carey became the first musical act since The Jackson 5 to have their first four singles reach number one. Mariah Carey finished as the best-selling album in the United States in 1991, while totaling sales of over 15 million copies.
Carey began recording her second studio album, Emotions, in 1991. She described it as an homage to Motown soul music, as she felt the need to pay tribute to the type of music that had influenced her as a child. For the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, who only had a small role on her debut, as well as Robert Clivillés and David Cole, from the dance group C+C Music Factory. Carey's relationship with Margulies deteriorated over a personal contract Carey had signed with him before signing the record deal with Columbia, agreeing to split not only the songwriting royalties from the songs, but half of her earnings as well. However, when the time came to write music for Emotions, Sony officials made it clear he would only be paid the fair amount given to co-writers on an album. Margulies later filed a lawsuit against Sony which ultimately led to their parting of ways. Emotions was released on September 17, 1991, and was accepted by critics as a more mature album than its predecessor. While praised for Carey's improved songwriting, production, and new sound, the album was criticized for its material, thought weaker than that of her debut. Though the album managed sales of over eight million copies globally, Emotions failed to reach the commercial and critical heights of its predecessor.
As after the release of her debut, critics again questioned whether Carey would embark on a world tour to promote her material. Although Carey explained that stage fright and the style of her songs made a tour very daunting, speculation grew that Carey was a "studio worm," and that she was incapable of producing the perfect pitch and 5-octave vocal range for which she was known. In hopes of putting to rest any claims of her being a manufactured artist, Carey and Walter Afanasieff decided to book an appearance on MTV Unplugged, a television program aired by MTV. The show presented name artists "unplugged" or stripped of studio equipment. While Carey favored her more soulful and powerful songs, it was decided that her most popular content would be included. Days before the show's taping, Carey and Afanasieff thought of adding a cover version of an older song, in order to provide something different and unexpected. They chose "I'll Be There," a song made popular by The Jackson 5 in 1970. On March 16, 1992, Carey recorded a seven-piece set-list at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. The revue was met with critical acclaim, leading to it being aired more than three times as often as an average episode would. The success tempted Sony officials to market it. Sony decided to release it as an EP, priced low because it was short. The EP proved to be a success, contrary to critics and speculations that Carey was just a studio artist, and was given a triple-Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and managed Gold and Platinum certifications in several European markets.
1993–1996: Music Box and Daydream
During early 1993, Carey began working on her third studio album, Music Box. After Emotions failed to achieve the commercial heights of her debut album, Carey and Columbia came to the agreement that the next album would contain a more pop influenced sound, in order to appeal to a wider audience. During Carey's writing sessions, she began working mostly with Afanasieff, with whom she co-wrote and produced most of Music Box. On August 31, Music Box was released around the world, debuting at number-one on the Billboard 200. The album was met with mixed reception from music critics; while many praised the album's pop influence and strong content, others felt that Carey made less usage of her acclaimed vocal range. Ron Wynn from AllMusic described Carey's different form of singing on the album: "It was wise for Carey to display other elements of her approach, but sometimes excessive spirit is preferable to an absence of passion." The album's second single, "Hero," would eventually come to be one of Carey's most popular and inspirational songs of her career. The song became Carey's eighth chart topper in the United States, and began expanding Carey's popularity throughout Europe. With the release of the album's third single, Carey achieved several career milestones. Her cover of Badfinger's "Without You" became her first number one single in Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Music Box spent prolonged periods at number one on the album charts of several countries, and eventually became one of the best-selling albums of all time, with worldwide sales of over 28 million copies. After declining to tour for her past two albums, Carey agreed to embark on a short stateside string of concerts, titled the Music Box Tour. Spanning only six dates across North America, the short but successful tour was a large step for Carey, who dreaded the hassle of touring. Following Music Box, Carey took a relatively large period of time away from the public eye, and began working on an unknown project throughout 1994. In October 1994, Billboard announced that Carey would release a holiday album later that year. That 1994, Carey recorded a duet with Luther Vandross; a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's "Endless Love." Carey's album Merry Christmas was released on November 1, 1994, on the same day that the album's first single, "All I Want for Christmas Is You," was released. The album eventually became the best-selling Christmas album of all time, with global sales reaching over 15 million copies. Upon its release, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was critically praised, and is considered "one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon." Rolling Stone described it as a "holiday standard," and ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list. Commercially, it became the best-selling holiday ringtone of all time, and the best-selling single by a non-Asian artist in Japan, selling over 2.1 million units (both ringtone and digital download). By the end of the holiday season of 1994, Carey and Afanasieff had already begun writing material for her next studio album, which would be released late the following year.
Released on October 3, 1995, Daydream combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. The album's second single, "One Sweet Day" was inspired by the death of David Cole. The song remained atop the Hot 100 for a record-holding 16 weeks, and became the longest-running number-one song in history. Daydream became her biggest-selling album in the United States, and became her second album to be certified Diamond by the RIAA, following Music Box. The album again was the best-seller by an international artist in Japan, shipping over 2.2 million copies, and eventually reaching global sales of over 20 million copies. Critically, the album was heralded as Carey's best to date; The New York Times named it one of 1995's best albums, and wrote, "best cuts bring R&B candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement [...] Carey's songwriting has taken a leap forward and become more relaxed, sexier and less reliant on thudding clichés." Carey once again opted to embark on a short world tour titled Daydream World Tour. It had seven dates, three in Japan and four throughout Europe. When tickets went on sale, Carey set records when all 150,000 tickets for her three shows at Japan's largest stadium, Tokyo Dome, sold out in under three hours, breaking the previous record held by The Rolling Stones. Due to the album's success, Carey won two awards at the American Music Awards for her solo efforts: Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist. Daydream and its singles were respectively nominated in six categories at the 38th Grammy Awards. Carey, along with Boyz II Men, opened the event with a performance of "One Sweet Day." However, Carey did not receive any award, prompting her to comment "What can you do? I will never be disappointed again. After I sat through the whole show and didn't win once, I can handle anything." In 1995, due to Daydream's enormous Japanese sales, Billboard declared Carey the "Overseas Artist of the Year" in Japan.
1997–2000: New image and independence, Butterfly, and Rainbow
With her following albums, Carey began to take more initiative and control with her music, and started infusing more genres into her work. For Butterfly, she sought to work with other producers and writers other than Afanasieff, such as Sean Combs, Kamaal Fareed, Missy Elliott and Jean Claude Oliver and Samuel Barnes from Trackmasters. During the album's recording, Carey and Mottola separated, with Carey citing it as her way of achieving freedom, and a new lease on life. Aside from the album's different approach, critics took notice of Carey's altered style of singing, which she described as breathy vocals. Her new-found style of singing was met with mixed reception; some critics felt this was a sign of maturity, that she did not feel the need to always show off her upper range, while others felt it was a sign of her weakening and waning voice. The album's lead single, "Honey," and its accompanying music video, introduced a more overtly sexual image than Carey had ever demonstrated, and furthered reports of her freedom from Mottola. Carey believed that her image was not "that much of a departure from what I've done in the past [...] It's not like I went psycho and thought I would be a rapper. Personally, this album is about doing whatever the hell I wanted to do." Reviews for Butterfly were generally positive: Rolling Stone wrote, "It's not as if Carey has totally dispensed with her old saccharine, Houston-style balladry [...] but the predominant mood of 'Butterfly' is one of coolly erotic reverie." AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine described Carey's vocals as "sultrier and more controlled than ever," and heralded Butterfly as one of her "best records and illustrates that Carey continues to improve and refine her music, which makes her a rarity among her '90s peers.'" The album was a commercial success, although not to the degree of her previous albums Mariah Carey, Music Box and Daydream.
Carey began developing other projects during the late 1990s. On April 14, 1998, Carey partook in the VH1 Divas benefit concert, where she sang alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan, and Carole King. Carey had begun developing a film project All That Glitters, later re-titled to simply Glitter, and wrote songs for other projects, such as Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). After Glitter fell into developmental hell, Carey postponed the project, and began writing material for a new album. Sony Music executives wanted her to prepare a greatest hits collection in time for the holiday season. They wanted to release an album that featured her number one singles in the United States, and her international chart toppers on the European versions, without any new material, while Carey felt that a compilation album should reflect on her most personal songs, not just her most commercial. The album, titled #1's (1998), featured a duet with Whitney Houston, "When You Believe," which was included on the soundtrack for The Prince of Egypt (1998). #1's became a phenomenon in Japan, selling over one million copies in its opening week, making Carey as the only international artist to accomplish this feat. It sold over 3.25 million copies in Japan after only the first three months, and holds the record as the best-selling album by a non-Asian artist.
During the spring of 1999, Carey began working on the final album per her record contract with Sony. But due to the pressure and the awkward relationship Carey had developed with Sony, she completed the album in a period of three months in the summer of 1999, quicker than any of her other albums. Titled Rainbow (1999), the album found Carey once again working with a new array of music producers and songwriters, such as Jay-Z and DJ Clue?. Carey also wrote two ballads with David Foster and Diane Warren, whom she used to replace Afanasieff. Rainbow was released on November 2, 1999, to the highest first week sales of her career at the time, however debuting at number two on the Billboard 200. In the meantime Carey's troubled relationship with Columbia grew, as they halted promotion after the album's first two singles. They felt Rainbow didn't have any strong single to be released, whereas Carey wanted to release a ballad. This led to a very public feud, as Carey began posting messages on her website, telling fans inside information on the dispute, as well as instructing them to request "Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" on radio stations. The song was ultimately released but Carey found out that the song had only been given a very limited and low-promotion release, which made it commercially non-viable. Critical reception of Rainbow was generally enthusiastic, with the Sunday Herald saying that the album "sees her impressively tottering between soul ballads and collaborations with R&B heavyweights like Snoop Doggy Dogg and Usher [...] It's a polished collection of pop-soul." Though a commercial success, Rainbow became Carey's lowest selling album to that point in her career.
2001–2004: Personal and professional struggles, Glitter and Charmbracelet
After she received 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 an estimated $100 million, five-album recording contract with Virgin Records America (EMI Records) in April 2001. Carey was given full conceptual and creative control over the project. She opted to record an album partly mixed with 1980s influenced disco and other similar genres, in order to go hand-in-hand with the film's setting. 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 that complained of being overworked, and her three-year relationship with the singer Luis Miguel ended. 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 do interviews all day long and get two hours of sleep a night, if that." Due to the pressure from the media, her heavy work schedule and the split from Miguel, Carey began posting a series of disturbing messages on her official website, and displayed erratic behavior on several live promotional outings. On July 19, 2001, Carey made a surprise appearance on the MTV program Total Request Live (TRL). As the show's host Carson Daly began taping following a commercial break, Carey came out pushing an ice cream cart while wearing a large men's shirt, and began a striptease, in which she shed her shirt to reveal a tight yellow and green ensemble. While she later revealed that Daly was aware of her presence in the building prior to her appearance, Carey's appearance on TRL garnered strong media attention. Only days later, Carey began posting irregular voice notes and messages on her official website: "I'm trying to understand things in life right now and so I really don't feel that I should be doing music right now. What I'd like to do is just a take a little break or at least get one night of sleep without someone popping up about a video. All I really want is [to] just be me and that's what I should have done in the first place ... I don't say this much but guess what, I don't take care of myself." Following the quick removal of the messages, Berger commented that Carey had been "obviously exhausted and not thinking clearly" when she posted the letters.
On July 26, she was suddenly hospitalized, citing "extreme exhaustion" and a "physical and emotional breakdown." Carey was inducted at an un-disclosed hospital in Connecticut, and remained hospitalized and under doctor's care for two weeks, followed by an extended absence from the public. Following the heavy media coverage surrounding Carey's publicized breakdown and hospitalization, Virgin Records America and 20th Century Fox delayed the release of both Glitter, as well as its soundtrack of the same name. When discussing the project's weak commercial reaction, Carey blamed both her frame of mind during the time of its release, its postponement, as well as the soundtrack having been released on September 11. Critics panned Glitter, as well as its accompanying soundtrack; both were unsuccessful commercially. The accompanying soundtrack album, Glitter, became Carey's lowest-selling album to that point. 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." Following the negative cloud that was enveloping Carey's personal life at the time, as well as the project's poor reception, her $100 million five-album record deal with Virgin Records America (EMI Records) was bought out for $50 million. Soon after, Carey flew to Capri, Italy for a period of five months, in which she began writing material for her new album, stemming from all the personal experiences she had endured throughout the past year. Carey later said that 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 $24 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, Carey was cast in the independent film, WiseGirls, alongside Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters, who co-starred as waitresses at a mobster-operated restaurant. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and received generally negative critical response, though Carey's portrayal of the character was praised; Roger Friedman of Fox News referred to her as "a Thelma Ritter for the new millennium," and wrote, "Her line delivery is sharp and she manages to get the right laughs." Later that year, Carey performed the American national anthem to rave reviews at the Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Towards the end of 2002, Carey released her next studio album Charmbracelet, which she said marked "a new lease on life" for her. Though released in the wake of Glitter and Carey's return to the music scene, sales of Charmbracelet were moderate and the quality of Carey's vocals came under criticism. Joan Anderson from The Boston Globe declared the album "the worst of her career, and revealed a voice [that is] no longer capable of either gravity-defying gymnastics or soft coos," while AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine expressed similar sentiments and wrote, "What is a greater problem is that Mariah's voice is shot, sounding in tatters throughout the record. She can no longer coo or softly croon nor can she perform her trademark gravity-defying vocal runs."
In April 2003, Carey announced she would be touring later in the year. The Charmbracelet World Tour: An Intimate Evening with Mariah Carey, spanned North America and East Asia over three months, generally playing in smaller venues rather than arenas. Throughout the United States, the shows were done in theaters, and something more Broadway-influenced, "It's much more intimate so you'll feel like you had an experience. You experience a night with me." However, while smaller productions were booked throughout the tour's stateside leg, Carey performed at stadiums in Asia and Europe, performing for a crowd of over 35,000 in Manila, 50,000 in Malaysia, and to over 70,000 people in China. In the United Kingdom, it became Carey's first tour to feature shows outside London, booking arena stops in Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester. Charmbracelet World Tour: An Intimate Evening with Mariah Carey garnered generally positive reviews from music critics and concert goers, with many complimenting the quality of Carey's live vocals, as well as the production as a whole.
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 U.S.
2008–2009: 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 chart's history.
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 album 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 spanned a total of 27-dates beginning in March 2016, marking the first time the singer had done a significant tour of mainland Europe in 13 years. Four stops included shows in South Africa. The tour grossed 30.3 million dollars.
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 guest starred on the musical drama Empire, as a superstar singer named Kitty and sung the song Infamous featuring Jussie Smollett. On December 5, 2016, Carey participated in the VH1 Divas : Holiday: Unsilent Night benefit concert, alongside Vanessa Williams, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Teyana Taylor.
On December 31, 2016, Carey's performance on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve in Times Square received worldwide attention after technical difficulties caused Carey's in-ear monitors to malfunction, resulting in what The New York Times referred to as a "performance train wreck." The singer cited her inability to hear the music without in-ear auditory feedback as the cause for the mishap. Carey's representatives and Dick Clark Productions placed blame on each other.
On February 3, 2017, Carey released the single "I Don't" featuring YG. In February 8, 2017, she voiced the Mayor of Gotham City, in the animated film The Lego Batman Movie. In April 2017, it was announced that Carey is launching her own record label, Butterfly MC Records, a joint partnership with Epic Records. In July 2017, Carey made a cameo in the comedy film Girls Trip, starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall. The same month, Carey embarked on a tour with Lionel Richie, titled, All the Hits Tour. Carey was featured in the official remix for French Montana's single "Unforgettable," alongside Swae Lee. In October 2017, Carey released a new soundtrack single, "The Star," for the movie of the same name. Carey also developed an animated Christmas film, titled Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You, for which soundtrack she recorded an original song called "Lil' Snowman." The film was released direct-to-video on November 14, 2017. In the same month, the singer resumed her All I Want for Christmas Is You, a Night of Joy and Festivity concert series, which for the first time visited other countries including England and France. The singer will also tour Oceania in 2018 with her The Number Ones Tour.
Carey is set to co-executive produce alongside Brett Ratner a scripted drama about her life for Starz. The show will focus on Carey’s early rise to fame as a young teen in New York City.
Carey has said that from childhood she has been influenced by Billie Holiday, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and R&B and soul musicians such as Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, and she credits The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins as the most influential in her early years. 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). Carey was heavily influenced by Minnie Riperton, and began experimenting with the whistle register due to her original practice of the range.
During Carey's career, her vocal and musical style, along with her level of success, has been compared to Whitney Houston, who she has also cited as an influence, 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." Author and 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 and produces her own songs.
Love is the subject of the majority of Carey's lyrics, although she has written about themes such as racism, social alienation, death, world hunger, and spirituality. She has said that much of her work is partly autobiographical, but Time magazine wrote: "If only Mariah Carey's music had the drama of her life. Her songs are often sugary and artificial—NutraSweet soul. But her life has passion and conflict," applying it to the first stages of her career. He commented that as her albums progressed, so too her songwriting and music blossomed into more mature and meaningful material. Jim Faber of the New York Daily News, made similar comments, "For Carey, vocalizing is all about the performance, not the emotions that inspired it. Singing, to her, represents a physical challenge, not an emotional unburdening." While reviewing Music Box, Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone commented that Carey sang with "sustained passion," while Arion Berger of Entertainment Weekly wrote that during some vocal moments, Carey becomes "too overwhelmed to put her passion into words." In 2001, The Village Voice wrote in regards to what they considered Carey's "centerless ballads," writing, "Carey's Strawberry Shortcake soul still provides the template with which teen-pop cuties draw curlicues around those centerless [Diane] Warren ballads [.....] it's largely because of [Blige] that the new R&B demands a greater range of emotional expression, smarter poetry, more from-the-gut testifying, and less [sic] unnecessary notes than the squeaky-clean and just plain squeaky Mariah era. Nowadays it's the Christina Aguileras and Jessica Simpsons who awkwardly oversing, while the women with roof-raising lung power keep it in check when tune or lyric demands."
Voice and timbre
Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range, and has the ability to reach notes beyond the 7th octave. Referred to as the "songbird supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she was ranked first in a 2003 MTV and Blender magazine 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 also placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists."
Regarding her voice type, Carey said that she is an alto, though several critics have described her as a Coloratura soprano. The singer claims that she has nodules in her vocal cords since childhood, due to which she can sing in a higher register than others. However, tiredness and sleep deprivation can affect her vocals due to the nodules, and Carey explained that she went through a lot of practice to maintain a balance during singing.
Carey's vocal style and singing ability have significantly impacted popular and contemporary music. As music critic G. Brown from The Denver Post wrote, "For better or worse, Mariah Carey's five-octave range and melismatic style have influenced a generation of pop singers." According to Rolling Stone, "Her mastery of melisma, the fluttering strings of notes that decorate songs like "Vision of Love," inspired the entire American Idol vocal school, for better or worse, and virtually every other female R&B singer since the Nineties." Jody Rosen of Slate wrote of Carey's influence in modern music, calling her the most influential vocal stylist of the last two decades, the person who made rococo melismatic singing. Rosen further exemplified Carey's influence by drawing parallel with American Idol, which to her, "often played out as a clash of melisma-mad Mariah wannabes. And, today, nearly 20 years after Carey's debut, major labels continue to bet the farm on young stars such as the winner of Britain's X Factor show, Leona Lewis, with her Generation Next gloss on Mariah's big voice and big hair." Sean Daly of St. Petersburg Times wrote, "Depending on how you feel about public humiliation, the best/worst parts of American Idol are the audition shows, which normally break down into three distinct parts: The Talented Kids. The Weird Kids. The Mariahs." Daly further commented, "The Mariahs are the hardest ones to watch, mainly because most of them think they're reeeaaally good. The poor, disillusioned hopefuls plant themselves in front of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson – then proceed to stretch, break and mutilate every note of a song, often Mariah's Hero, a tune that has ruined more throats than smoker's cough." New York Magazine's editor Roger Deckker said that in regarding Carey as an influential artist in music, he commented that "Whitney Houston may have introduced melisma (the vocally acrobatic style of lending a word an extra syllable or twenty) to the charts, but it was Mariah—with her jaw-dropping range—who made it into America's default sound." Deckker also added that "Every time you turn on American Idol, you are watching her children." Despite her vocal prowess, Carey's vocal technique particularly with the use of melisma and belting, has been subject to public scrutiny mainly because of young singers such as from talent shows have been overly imitating her singing technique in which critics commented "Mariah Carey is, without a doubt, the worst thing to happen to amateur singing since the karaoke machine." As Professor Katherine L. Meizel noted in her book, The Mediation of Identity Politics in American Idol, "Carey's influence not just stops in the emulation of melisma or her singing amongst the wannabe's, it's also her persona, her diva, her stardom which inspires them.... a pre-fame conic look."
Among the hip hop, pop, and R&B artists who have cited Carey as an influence are Aneeka, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Bridgit Mendler, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Rihanna, Grimes, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly Furtado, Bonnie McKee, Leona Lewis, Brandy Norwood, Pink, Mary J. Blige, Melanie Fiona, Missy Elliott, Sam Smith, Hikaru Utada, Regine Velasquez, Sarah Geronimo, Charice Jordin Sparks, Justin Bieber, Jessica Sanchez, and Sandy. According to Stevie Wonder, "When people talk about the great influential singers, they talk about Aretha, Whitney and Mariah. That's a testament to her talent. Her range is that amazing." Beyoncé credits Carey's singing and her song "Vision of Love" as influencing her to begin practicing vocal "runs" as a child, as well as helping her pursue a career as a musician. Rihanna has stated that Carey is one of her major influences and idol. Aguilera said in the early stages of her career that Carey wasa big influence in her singing career and one of her idols. According to Pier Dominguez, author of Christina Aguilera: A star is made, Aguilera has stated how she loved listening to Whitney Houston, but it was Carey who had the biggest influence on her vocal styling. Carey's carefully choreographed image of a grown woman struck a chord with Aguilera. Her influence on Aguilera also grew from the fact that both are of mixed heritage. Philip Brasor, editor of The Japan Times, expressed how Carey's vocal and melismatic style even influenced Asian singers. He wrote that Japanese singer Hikaru Utada "sang what she heard, from the diaphragm and with her own take on the kind of melisma that became de rigueur in American pop after the ascendance of Mariah Carey." In an article titled "Out With Mariah's Melisma, In With Kesha's Kick," writer David Browne of The New York Times discusses how the once ubiquitous melisma pop style suddenly lost in favor of the now ubiquitous autotune in which the former was heavily popularized by the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Browne had commented "But beginning two decades ago, melisma overtook pop in a way it hadn't before. Mariah Carey's debut hit from 1990, "Vision of Love," followed two years later by Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You," set the bar insanely high for notes stretched louder, longer and knottier than most pop fans had ever heard." Browne further added "A subsequent generation of singers, including Ms. Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé, built their careers around melisma. (Men like Brian McKnight and Tyrese also indulged in it, but women tended to dominate the form.)"
Carey is also credited for introducing R&B and hip hop into mainstream pop culture, and for popularizing rap as a featuring act through her post-1995 songs. Sasha Frere-Jones, editor of The New Yorker commented, "It became standard for R&B/hip-hop stars like Missy Elliott and Beyoncé, to combine melodies with rapped verses. And young white pop stars—including Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, and 'N Sync—have spent much of the past ten years making pop music that is unmistakably R&B." Moreover Jones concludes that "[Carey's] idea of pairing a female songbird with the leading male MCs of hip-hop changed R&B and, eventually, all of pop. Although now anyone is free to use this idea, the success of The Emancipation of Mimi suggests that it still belongs to Carey." Judnick Mayard, writer of The Fader, wrote that in regarding of R&B and hip hop collaboration, "The champion of this movement is Mariah Carey." Mayard also expressed that "To this day ODB and Mariah may still be the best and most random hip hop collaboration of all time," citing that due to the record "Fantasy," "R&B and Hip-Hop were the best of step siblings." Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times wrote, "In the mid-1990s Ms. Carey pioneered a subgenre that some people call the thug-love duet. Nowadays clean-cut pop stars are expected to collaborate with roughneck rappers, but when Ms. Carey teamed up with Ol' Dirty Bastard, of the Wu-Tang Clan, for the 1995 hit "Fantasy (Remix)," it was a surprise, and a smash." Aside from her pop culture and musical influence, Carey is credited for releasing a classic Christmas song called "All I Want for Christmas Is You." In a retrospective look at Carey's career, Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker said, the "charming" song was one of Carey's biggest accomplishments, calling it "one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon." Rolling Stone ranked "All I Want for Christmas Is You" fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list, calling it a "holiday standard." In a review of her Greatest Hits album, Devon Powers of PopMatters writes that "She has influenced countless female vocalists after her. At 32, she is already a living legend—even if she never sings another note." While reviewing a concert of Carey in Sydney, Elise Vout of MTV Australia wrote that "it's not amazing choreography or high production value you're going to see, it's the larger than life personality, unique voice, and legend that is Mariah Carey."
Carey began dating Tommy 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. On May 30, 1997, the couple announced their separation, with their divorce finalized by the time Mottola remarried on December 2, 2000. Carey was in a three-year relationship with singer Luis Miguel from 1998 to 2001.
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, Moroccan and Monroe, on April 30, 2011 via Cesarean section.
In August 2014, Cannon confirmed he and Carey had separated a few months earlier. He filed for divorce on December 12, 2014. It was finalized in 2016.
On January 21, 2016, Carey and Australian billionaire James Packer announced that they were engaged. By October, however, they had ended their engagement.
Carey is an active Episcopalian. She stated 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."