Mariah Carey

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Template:Infobox Band Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970 in Huntington, New York, United States) is a Grammy award-winning pop and R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress of the 1990s and 2000s. Making her debut in 1990, she became the most successful and best-selling artist of the decade, according to Billboard magazine and the World Music Awards.[1] In 2000, the World Music Awards show named her the best-selling female recording artist of all time.

Noted for her distinctive singing style, Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range, and her vocals make frequent use of melismas and other ornamentation. During the 1990s, she released fifteen U.S. number-one hits on Columbia Records, run by then-husband Tommy Mottola, several of which broke chart records. By the turn of the millennium, Carey's popularity with critics and the public had entered decline, and she was dropped from her new record label following a highly-publicised physical breakdown and an unsuccessful foray into film. In 2005, Carey returned to the forefront of popular music with the release of the multi-platinum album The Emancipation of Mimi, which yielded her sixteenth and seventeenth U.S. number-one singles.

Contents

Biography and music career

Early life and discovery

Carey is the third and youngest child of Patricia Hickey, a Catholic opera singer and voice coach of Irish-American ethnicity, and Alfred Roy Carey (né Núñez), an aeronautical engineer of Afro-Venezuelan descent. She was named after the song "And They Call the Wind Maria", from the musical Paint Your Wagon. Carey's siblings include her older sister Alison, and her older brother Morgan. As a multiracial family, the Carey household was met with racial slurs, hostility, and sometimes violence, causing the family to move frequently around the New York area. The strain on the family led to the divorce of Carey's parents when she was three years old. Carey had little contact with her father, and her mother worked several jobs to support the family.

Spending much of her time at home alone, Carey turned to music as an outlet. She began singing at the age of four, and first performed in public at the age of six. She began writing songs while in grade school, and her mother and the members of her opera company were impressed with her talents when Carey hit a cue note that her mother had missed. Carey attended and graduated from Oldfield Middle School and Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, although she was frequently absent due to efforts to break into the music business. After moving to New York City, she eventually landed a role as a backup singer for singer Brenda K. Starr.

In 1988, Carey met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party, where Starr gave him a demo tape. Mottola played the tape while leaving the party and was very impressed by what he heard. He returned to the party to find Carey, but she had already left. Nevertheless, Mottola tracked her down and signed her to a recording contract. This Cinderella-like story became part of the standard publicity surrounding Carey's entrance into the industry.

1990–1992: Early commercial success

Carey's professional music career began with the release of her eponymous debut album, Mariah Carey, in 1990. Carey co-wrote all of the compositions on her debut album with songwriter-producers such as Ric Wake and Rhett Lawrence, and would continue to co-write nearly all of her material for the rest of her career. The album debuted low on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, but ascended to number one a year after its release, where it remained for eleven weeks. It produced four number-one singles, making Carey a star in the United States. The album's international success, however, was limited. In 1991, Carey won two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her debut single "Vision of Love".

File:IBT.jpg
Carey performing on MTV Unplugged, her first widely-seen concert appearance.

Emotions, Carey's second album, was released in the fall of 1991 to critical and commercial success. Its first single, the title track "Emotions", was another U.S. number-one hit giving Carey the distinction of being the only recording act in history to have their first five singles reach number-one on the U.S.Hot 100 chart.[2] Carey had been fighting for the ability to produce her own songs, and beginning with Emotions, would co-produce most of her material. She would also begin writing and producing for other artists, such as Trey Lorenz and Daryl Hall, within the coming year.

For the first two years of her career, Carey did not embark on any major public tours. Her first widely-seen concert performance was her appearance on MTV Unplugged in May 1992, and her performance proved that her vocal abilities were not, as some believed, simulated using studio techniques. Carey premiered a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There", performed as a duet with Trey Lorenz, on the special; released as a single, it became Carey's sixth number-one hit in the U.S. It was later released by Columbia on album as the MTV Unplugged EP.

1993–1996: Worldwide success

Carey, then 23, and Tommy Mottola, 43, had become romantically involved, and in June 1993 they were married in an Episcopalian ceremony in Manhattan. Her third studio album, Music Box, was released later that year, and became her most successful album worldwide. Lead single "Dreamlover" was her longest stayer yet at the number-one spot in the U.S. (eight weeks), "Hero" became her first Christmas number-one single in the U.S., and "Without You" (a cover of the Badfinger song) went to number-one in the UK. However, "Anytime You Need a Friend" became Carey's first single to peak outside of the U.S. top ten, and her attempt at a mellower work than her previous efforts raised eyebrows with some critics: Ron Wynn said Carey "blended into the background and let the tracks guide her, instead of pushing and exploding through them", and Stephen Holden criticised "Carey's lyrics, which are made up entirely of pop and soul clichés".

File:OSD.jpg
Carey and Boyz II Men recording "One Sweet Day" (1995), one of Carey's most successful singles.

Following a popular duet with Luther Vandross of Diana Ross' "Endless Love", Carey released the album Merry Christmas in late 1994. In addition to covers of traditional Christmas songs, it contained a very successful original holiday song, "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which became her first number-one single in Japan and was described as "a well-crafted Phil Spector tribute" by Roch Parisien, who dismissed the album as an "otherwise vanilla set".

In 1995, Carey released Daydream, which combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with modern R&B/hip-hop influences, and became her largest-selling LP in the U.S., receiving Diamond RIAA status. Its singles achieved similar success: lead single "Fantasy" became only the second single to debut at number-one in the U.S. and spent twelve weeks at number one in Canada, "One Sweet Day" (a duet with Boyz II Men) spent a still-record sixteen weeks at number-one, and "Always Be My Baby" topped the Hot 100 year-end airplay charts in 1996. Critics such as Stephen Thomas Erlewine and Bill Lamb embraced Daydream as her finest album yet at the time, and it was named one of the best albums of the year by publications such as the New York Times and TIME magazine. Carey was the recipient of several awards following the success of the album, including a World Music Award for World's Best-Selling Pop Artist of the Year, and she also received six Grammy nominations, but lost in all categories.

1997–2000: Independence and a new image

Carey and Mottola separated in 1997; although she had often projected the image of a happy marriage to the public, in reality she had felt emotionally and psychologically abused by Mottola, whom she often described as possessive. Their divorce became final the following year.

File:Honey.jpg
Carey's album Butterfly (1997) and its lead single "Honey" presented a more overtly sexual image of Carey than had been previously seen.

Carey's 1997 album, Butterfly, saw her continuing to move in an R&B/hip-hop direction, while lead single "Honey" displayed a much more sexual Carey than before in both its lyrics and music video. "My All", another single from the album, became her thirteenth number-one single, an unprecedented feat for a female artist. J.R. Reynolds said Butterfly "pushes the envelope", a move that he thought "may prove disconcerting to more conservative fans", but Reynolds still praised the album as "a welcome change". Another reviewer felt Butterfly illustrated "that Carey is continuing to improve and refine her music, which makes her a rarity among her '90s peers". 1997 also marked the year that Carey became a major songwriter and producer for other artists, contributing to the debut albums of Allure, 7 Mile and Blaque. She also wrote songs for the soundtracks to the films Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), and began to develop her own film/soundtrack project, All That Glitters. Towards the turn of the millenium, Carey became a prominent figure in hip-hop music, and collaborated with both new and established rappers, including Jay-Z.

During 1998, Carey had a romance with New York Yankees baseball player Derek Jeter, who was also biracial. She would state later that while the timing was not right for their relationship, it did teach her that multiracial families could function well. That year, the album #1's, a collection of her U.S. number-one singles up to that point, was released. It included four new songs, one of which was "When You Believe", a duet with Whitney Houston recorded for the soundtrack to The Prince of Egypt that won an Academy Award for Best Song. The album sold well, but critic Amy Linden said "while these may be the tracks that sold the most and charted the highest, these aren't necessarily Mariah's best songs". Also that year, she appeared on the first televised VH1 Divas program, a joint benefit concert appearance with singers such as Aretha Franklin and Shania Twain, though Carey's alleged prima donna behavior had already led many to consider her a diva. By the following year, she had begun a relationship with singer Luis Miguel.

Rainbow, Carey's sixth studio album, was released in 1999. Like Butterfly, it was comprised of pop and more R&B/hip hop oriented songs; Carey intended them to express her feelings about her divorce two years previously. Lead single "Heartbreaker" (featuring Jay-Z) was another number-one success for Carey, but despite several other collaborations with artists such as Joe, 98 Degrees and Snoop Dogg, it became her lowest-selling LP up to that point. There were also complaints in reviews that Carey was suffering a case of repetition; words such as "formulaic" and "predictable" came up from several critics. Although the recipient of several awards in recognition of her decade-spanning career, including Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for the world's Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium, a further sign of decline appeared when her final release from Rainbow, the double A-side "Crybaby"/"Can't Take That Away" became her first single to peak outside of the U.S. top twenty. Via her website, Carey publicly accused Sony of mishandling the release of the single.

2001–2004: Personal and career struggles

Following a successful decade in music, Carey finally ended her contract with Sony and signed a five-album contract with EMI's Virgin Records worth a reported US$80 million; however, things took a sudden downward turn for her. Just a few months later, in July 2001, it was widely reported that Carey had suffered a physical and emotional breakdown. She had left voicemail messages on her website (which were quickly removed) to her fans complaining of being overworked, and her relationship with Luis Miguel was ending. Carey made a notorious appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, where she handed out popsicles to the teen-aged audience and began what was later described by some as a "strip tease". By the month's end, Carey had checked into a psychiatric hospital, and her publicist announced that she would be taking a break from public appearances.

File:NTFS.jpg
A scene from Carey's poorly-received film Glitter (2001).

Her delayed semi-autobiographical film Glitter was received poorly by most critics upon its release and became a box office failure (see below). Carey was unable to do much promotion for the soundtrack album Glitter due to her ill health; it peaked in the U.S. at number-seven (her weakest showing to date). Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone noted that while the album was "a big step forward in terms of maturity", it had "zero melodic or emotional punch", while E! thought that even the most serious tracks on the album were "as glossy as her latest publicity shot". Lead single "Loverboy" reached number two on the Hot 100 thanks to a price cut, but the album's follow-up singles all failed to chart.

Shortly after the disastrous release of Glitter, Sony released a second compilation album, the 2-CD Greatest Hits, just before Christmas. In early 2002, EMI decided to part ways with Carey and they bought out her contract for $28 million, as an addition to the $21 million paid the previous year when singing, giving her another round of bad publicity. Later that year, she signed a three-album contract with Island Records' Def Jam. To add further to Carey's emotional burdens, her father died of cancer that same year.

Following a well-received supporting role in the independent film WiseGirls (see below), Carey released a new album, Charmbracelet, in which she expressed an interest in writing music that is more profoundly meaningful to her and her fans. Charmbracelet sold poorly, and the quality of Carey's vocals, which had previously been perceived as the singer's strong point, came under severe criticism. "Mariah's voice is shot, sounding in tatters" declared one review, "and there's not a moment where it sounds strong or inviting". "Carey's once glorious voice is all over the place" said another, while Barry Walters commented, "Carey's lead vocals blend into choruses of overdubbed Mariahs cooing overlapping phrases". Singles such as "Through the Rain" failed both on the charts and with pop radio, whose playlists had become less open to maturing "diva" stylists such as Carey, Whitney Houston and Céline Dion.[3]

Her 2003 duet with Busta Rhymes, "I Know What You Want", fared considerably better, reaching the top five in the U.S.; Columbia Records later included it on the double CD The Remixes. That year, Carey was awarded the "Diamond Award" by the World Music Awards show in honour of selling over 150 million albums worldwide.[4][5] She was featured on rapper Jadakiss' single "U Make Me Wanna" in 2004, which reached the top ten on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart and the top thirty of the Hot 100.

2005–the present: Return of the Voice

Carey's ninth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi, was released in 2005, and was advertised as "The Return of the Voice", though Carey maintained that the voice had always been there. Todd Burns called Mimi "easily the strongest album that she’s made in this millennium", and Caroline Sullivan said it contained "the first Mariah Carey tunes in years I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again." It debuted at number one in the U.S. with the highest first week sales of Carey's career and became the year's best-selling album, eventually receiving eight Grammy Award nominations. The album's second single, "We Belong Together," became the biggest hit of 2005 and Carey's career. It topped the U.S. charts for fourteen weeks, reached number one in several other countries, and was honored as the world's most-played single of the year at the World Music Awards. After "Shake It Off" subsequently peaked at number two in the U.S., "Don't Forget About Us" became Carey's seventeenth number-one. The chart achievement ties her with Elvis Presley for the most number ones by a solo artist, behind only The Beatles, who released twenty number-one singles during their six-and-a-half-year heyday.

Acting career

Carey, who had participated in theatre workshops as a child, made her big screen debut as an opera singer and one of the ex-girlfriends of Jimmie (Chris O'Donnell) in The Bachelor (1999), a romantic comedy starring O'Donnell and Renée Zellweger. Critical response to Carey's cameo appearance, which reportedly took over thirty takes to film, was lukewarm: Paul Tatara from CNN derisively said Carey's casting as a talentless diva was "letter-perfect", and Tony Lee simply stated "no, she can't act".

Carey's first starring role was in Glitter, a 2001 film that had been in development as a vehicle for Carey since 1997. In it, she played Billie Frank, a struggling singer and songwriter who breaks into the music industry after she meets DJ Julian Dice (Max Beesley). Reviews were scathing; while Roger Ebert gave mild praise for Carey's performance, saying, "Her acting ranges from dutiful flirtatiousness to intense sincerity", most other critics panned it: Stephanie Zacharek called Carey "numbingly bland" in her role, and Michael Atkinson observed, "when she tries for an emotion—any emotion—she looks as if she's lost her car keys". Glitter was a box office failure, and Carey, who "won" a Worst Actress Razzie Award for her role, has since referred to the film as "a diva moment".

Carey next appeared co-starring with Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters as a tough-talking waitress in the independent film WiseGirls, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. Critics who saw the film lauded Carey for her efforts: Kirk Honeycutt of 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 Freidman, 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 another film, The Sweet Science, about an unknown but talented boxer who is recruited by a determined female boxing manager. However, the project later fell into development hell, while WiseGirls was not given a theatrical release and went straight-to-cable in the United States. Subsequent cameo appearances in the Damon Dash films Death of a Dynasty (2003) and State Property 2 (2005) went largely unnoticed by the ticket-buying public.

Voice

Carey is credited as having a five-octave vocal range; she can cover all the notes from the alto range leading to those of a coloratura soprano [6], and her vocal trademark is her ability to sing in the whistle register. She has often been incorrectly credited as having a six or even seven-octave vocal range. It has been suggested that Carey's publicists falsely claimed this at the start of her career, [7] although it may also be a misstatement of the fact that Carey frequently accesses the notes situated in the seventh octave, her highest so far being a G#7, hit in two live performances of "Emotions" in 1991.

Carey's voice has come under minor scrutiny from some critics who believe that she does not effectively communicate the message of her songs. Rolling Stone, in a negative review of the album Emotions, wrote "Carey has a remarkable vocal gift, but to date, unfortunately, her singing has been far more impressive than expressive...at full speed her range is so superhuman that each excessive note erodes the believability of the lyric she is singing" [8], while others have referred to her high notes as "dog whistles". [9] [10] In comparison, criticisms were levelled at what Carey herself described as "breathy" vocals in some of her later songs on albums such as Charmbracelet. Said Carey, "Some people are of the opinion that if you have a big voice you should use it all the time...[but] I don't want to hear someone scream at me all the time".

Carey's voice, which is a continual subject of both positive and negative debate, was voted as the greatest voice in music in MTV and Blender Magazine's countdown of "The 22 Greatest Voices In Music", and is believed to have influenced singers such as Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson. In Cove Magazine's poll of the "100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists", she placed second behind Aguilera. [11]

Other activities

Carey is a philanthropist who has donated both time and millions of dollars to organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the National Adoption Center, VH1's Save the Music Foundation, and the Fresh Air Fund among many others. Carey is well-known nationally for her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in granting the wishes of the terminally ill Caleb Boulter, who called her "a very real person who overflows with compassion and love for others". As part of her involvement with the Fresh Air Fund, she is the co-founder of a camp located in Fishkill, New York that enables inner-city youth to embrace the arts, be introduced to career opportunities, and build self-esteem. The camp was named Camp Mariah in honour of Carey's work with the Fresh Air Fund, and she received a Congressional Award titled the Horizon Award for her charity work on behalf of children.

Carey performed as part of the America: A Tribute to Heroes nationally televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in December 2001 she performed before U.S. peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. She hosted the CBS television special At Home for the Holidays with Mariah Carey, which documented real-life stories of adopted children and foster families. In July 2005, Carey performed for Live 8 at the Live 8 concert, London with the African Children's Choir. She was also a participant in relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina's damage to the U.S. Gulf Coast later that year, performing on the Shelter from the Storm telethon and collaborating with Michael Jackson and other artists on an upcoming hurricane-relief single titled "From the Bottom of My Heart".

Carey, who considered writing her autobiography with David Ritz, has instead chosen to fictionalize her life story and adapt it into a series of illustrated children's books titled Automatic Princess, about an orphaned young girl who is biracial. Also forthcoming is a clothing and accessories line known as Automatic Princess, as well as a lingerie line, Kiss Kiss, which will be available for women in all sizes. Carey's fashion sense has itself often been criticized for exposing too much of her, or just being poorly put together. [12]

Discography

Albums

Template:Details Mariah Carey (1990) · Emotions (1991) · MTV Unplugged (1992) · Music Box (1993) · Merry Christmas (1994) · Daydream (1995) · Butterfly (1997) · #1's (1998) · Rainbow (1999) · Glitter (2001) · Greatest Hits (2001) · Charmbracelet (2002) · The Remixes (2003) · The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)

Number-one singles

Template:Dablink

Single U.S. #1 UK #1 CAN #1 AUS #1 JAP #1
"Vision of Love" (1990) 1 1
"Love Takes Time" (1990) 1 1
"Someday" (1991) 1
"I Don't Wanna Cry" (1991) 1
"Emotions" (1991) 1
"I'll Be There" (1992)
(featuring Trey Lorenz)
1 1
"Dreamlover" (1993) 1 1
"Hero" (1993) 1
"Without You" (1994) 1
"All I Want for Christmas Is You" (1994) 1
"Fantasy" (1995) 1 1 1 1
"One Sweet Day" (1995)
(Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men)
1
"Always Be My Baby" (1996) 1
"Honey" (1997) 1 1
"My All" (1998) 1
"When You Believe" (1998)
(Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston)
1
"Heartbreaker" (1999)
(featuring Jay-Z)
1 1 1
"Thank God I Found You" (2000)
(featuring Joe and 98 Degrees)
1
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (2000)
(Mariah Carey & Westlife)
1
"It's Like That" (2005) 1
"We Belong Together" (2005) 1 1
"Don't Forget About Us" (2005) 1

See also

Notes

  1. ^  World Music Awards Montecarlo. 1998. Retrieved August 17, 2005.
  2. ^  The Guinness Book of Records 1998 (1997). UK: Guinness Publising Ltd. ISBN 0851120474 (UK).
  3. ^  Gardner, Elysa. Mariah Carey, 'standing again'. USA Today. November 28, 2002. Retrieved August 19, 2005.
  4. ^  Awards. MariahCarey.com. Retrieved August 19, 2005.
  5. ^  Diamond Award. World Music Awards. Retrieved August 19, 2005.

References

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