The best-selling female artist of all time – whose seventeen #1 singles rival all but Elvis Presley and The Beatles – Mariah Carey has made an indelible impact on the global music industry and audiences everywhere. Blessed with a stunning five-octave range and signature vocal abilities, the singularly talented superstar continues to reach new heights of artistic growth and popularity. As a singer and songwriter, she has been recognized with five Grammy Awards, nine American Music Awards, Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” Award and the World Music Award for “World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium,” to name but a few honors.
Carey’s most recent album is also her most intimate, a frank portrayal of both the challenges and successes experienced throughout her rise to fame. Released in April 2005, The Emancipation of Mimi (Island Def Jam) strongly resonated with audiences, becoming that year’s best-selling album in the U.S. and selling more than eight million units worldwide to date. While capturing three Grammys for Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song, Carey broke milestones with the album’s three singles. “We Belong Together” (which spent an astonishing fourteen weeks at #1) and “Shake It Off” made her the only female artist ever to occupy the Billboard Hot 100’s #1 and #2 spots in the same week. Her subsequent stand-alone single “Don’t Forget About Us” became the biggest American radio hit of the year.
With a mother who shared both talent and a love of music, Mariah Carey was named after “They Call the Wind Mariah,” a song from the popular Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon. She began singing at the age of four, and her extraordinary and innate talent quickly progressed. As a young teenager she began honing her songwriting skills; upon high school graduation, Carey headed straight to New York to pursue a musical career. A luminous talent, her vocals were immediately in demand. Her major break came while singing backup for Brenda K. Starr, who gave her demo tape to then-Sony Music Entertainment Chief Tommy Mottola. Soon after, Mottola signed Carey to her first recording contract with Columbia Records.
With an angelic allure and a vocal intensity never heard before, Mariah Carey exploded upon the scene with the debut of her self-titled album in 1990. Mariah Carey was an immense hit, spawning an extraordinary four #1 singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” It also brought two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“Vision of Love”). Carey continued her early success with a series of singles from her subsequent Emotions (1991) and MTV Unplugged (1992) albums that consistently placed her at the top of the charts.
With the 1993 release of Music Box, which included the chart-topping hit singles “Dreamlover” and “Hero,” Mariah Carey produced her most commercially successful album to date, selling an astounding 30 million units. She hit a new milestone with a holiday album, Merry Christmas (1994), which contained the instant classic “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The next year, with the release of Daydream (1995), its single “Fantasy” debuted at #1, making Mariah Carey the second artist in history and the first female performer to accomplish that feat. The album’s other single, “One Sweet Day,” recorded with Boyz II Men, stayed at the top of the charts for a mind-blowing sixteen weeks. She followed with the hip-hop and R&B-infused Butterfly, which introduced a new chapter in her career, teaming her with the hottest names in the music business including Sean Combs and Missy Elliott.
In 1998, eight years after her debut, Carey released #1’s, a compilation of her chart-topping hits. The album also included a new song, “When You Believe” (from the film The Prince of Egypt), a duet with Whitney Houston that paired two of the most successful female recording artists in pop history. Rainbow followed in 1999 with startling success. With the album’s first single, the popular “Heartbeaker,” Carey became “the first artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s; the record also pushed her ahead of The Beatles as the artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop the Hot 100 singles chart,” as affirmed by AllMusic.com. Mariah Carey subsequently sparked the interest of Universal Music Group’s Island Def Jam Records, which signed her to an exclusive recording contract in May 2002. Later that year she made her label debut with the release of the multi-platinum Charmbracelet.
Evoking a nickname used by those closest to her, The Emancipation of Mimi marked Mariah Carey’s tenth studio album with its release in April 2005. Entirely written and co-produced by Carey, and executive produced by Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman Antonio Reid, Mimi revealed an evolved musical sensibility in its tracks and a sophisticated new look on its cover. The album earned three Grammys from eight nominations across multiple categories, following a string of wins at the Vibe Awards, the American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards.
Apart from her musical achievements, Mariah Carey has generously donated her time and energy to a range of philanthropic causes near to her heart. They include Save the Music, The National Adoption Center and The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which recently bestowed its 2006 Wish Icon Award upon her, permanently rechristening it the Mariah Carey Wish Icon Award. Her active involvement with the Fresh Air Fund resulted in Camp Mariah, the Fund’s first camp named in honor of an individual. Through this prism, Mariah Carey’s legacy transcends the music industry to leave an indelible imprint upon the world at large.