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Carey, Mariah

album charts platinum pop

Carey, Mariah the most successful female artist of the 1990s, her six-octave voice selling over 80 million albums worldwide; b. N.Y.C., March 22, 1970. Mariah Carey’s mother, Patricia Carey, was a solist with the N.Y.C. Opera in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continued to work as a vocal coach. Her father, a black Venezuelan aeronautical engineer, divorced her mom when she was just three years old. From a very young age, Mariah was convinced she would be a star. She left her home in Long Island the day after graduating high school to prove it.

While waiting tables, Mariah hooked up with Ben Margulies, a friend of her older brother’s. They started writing songs together and cut a demo tape. Through another friend, she found out that dance artist Brenda K. Starr was looking for a background vocalist. Carey sought and got the job. Starr became her mentor, taking her to music business parties and events. At one such soiree, Starr gave Carey’s demo to Columbia records president Tommy Mattola. Legend has it that Mattola popped the tape into his limo’s cassette player and liked what he heard so much he had his driver go back to the party so he could start the signing process.

Carey’s eponymous 1990 debut generated four chart-topping singles in a row, “Vision of Love” (also #1 R&B), “Love Takes Time” (also #1 R&B), “Someday,” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry” (also #1 AC). All but the last went gold. The album went octuple platinum and stayed on the top of the album charts for 11 weeks. At the Grammy’s that year, Mariah took home the Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Performance Female statuettes.

Carey managed to avoid the Best New Artist curse, however, following that success up with Emotions a little over a year later. The gold title track topped both the pop and R&B charts, “Can’t Let Go” hit #2 pop and topped the AC charts, and “Make It Happen” got as high as #5. The album sold four million copies and rose as high as #4.

Despite her enormous success, Carey had yet to appear widely in concert, creating rumors that her phenomenal vocal range was somehow manufactured in the studio. Admittedly not fond of performing live, Carey had only done so in limited settings—for video cameras in upstate N.Y., at trade events promoting her records, and small “boutique” concerts. Her next recording, however, was a live performance for MTV’s Unplugged series. The triple platinum EP featured her version of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” that topped the pop and AC charts. It also helped launch the career of her background singer, Trey Lorenz.

In 1993 Carey became Mrs. Tommy Mattola. She also released her third studio album, Music Box . The first single from the album, “Dreamlover” spent eight weeks at the top of the pop charts and sold platinum. “Hero” also went platinum and spent four weeks atop the charts. The gold “Without You” only got as high as #3 and “Anytime You Need a Friend” rose to #12. The album sold 10 million copies and spent eight weeks at #1.

The next year, Carey duetted with Luther Vandross on “Endless Love,” taking the tune to a gold #2. After releasing a triple platinum Christmas record in 1994, she followed with Daydream . The album featured a series of duets, pairing Carey with rapper ODB from the Wu Tang Clan, on the double platinum single “Fantasy.” The single became only the second in chart history to enter at #1. Her next single, another double platinum duet from the album, “One Sweet Day” found Carey accompanied by the vocal group Boyz II Men. It also entered the charts at #1 and stayed there for a record-breaking 16 weeks. The album sold over 10 million copies and topped the charts.

Having sold 80 million records worldwide, Carey next tried her hand at a custom label. She started Crave records through Sony Music. However, she was unable to translate her hit-making talents to other artists. Within two years, the operation had shuttered. Shortly after, Carey and Mattola separated and divorced.

Back to her forte of recording, Carey’s next album, Butterfly, entered the charts at #1, as did the debut single from the record, “Honey.” “My All” also topped the charts and sold platinum. The album featured a who’s who of the hip-hop scene, including Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Sean “Puffy” Combs.

Carey next released a collection of her chart-topping singles, simply called Ones . The album went triple platinum and topped off at #4 on the charts. It featured the #1 platinum single “I Still Believe.”

Carey and Whitney Houston performed a duet on “When You Believe” for the Prince of Egypt soundtrack. The record, pairing the two most successful female artists in pop music history, reached #1 and went gold. In fall 1999 Carey returned once again to the top of the charts with “Heartbreaker,” featuring the rapper Jay-Z. This was her fourteenth #1 single, giving her a total of over 60 weeks at the #1 position, a new record for a pop act. Her record label bragged that Carey was the only artist to have a #1 pop song in every year of the decade of the 1990s, a feat matched only once before: by Paul Whiteman’s jazz orchestra in the 1920s!

One of the most ambitious singers working in pop music, Carey’s technique and talent often get lost in the gloss of her popularity. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Carey writes or co-writes the bulk of her material. She has also directed many of her videos, all of which tend to focus on her considerable physical charms. She has a reputation for being in the studio and in control from the beginning of a project until the end. Her success only looks easy.

Carey, Mutt (actually, Thomas; aka Papa) [next] [back] Carey, Henry

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