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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American Pop/R&B singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. She made her recording debut, in 1990, under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola, in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia Records' highest-selling act.

Following her separation from Mottola, in 1997, she introduced elements of hip hop into her album work, to much initial success, but her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia, in 2001. She signed a record $80 million dollar deal with Virgin Records, only to be dropped from the label and bought out of her contract in the following year. This radical turn of events was due to the highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, as well as the poor reception that was given to Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. In 2002, Carey signed with Island Records, and, after a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of pop music, in 2005, with her album, The Emancipation of Mimi.

According to Island Def Jam, Carey has sold more than 200 million albums, singles and videos worldwide, which makes her one of the world's best-selling music artists. After releasing a series of multi-platinum albums in the 1990’s in Europe and Asia, she was cited as the world’s best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the 1998 World Music Awards. Moreover, she was named the best-selling female artist of the millennium by the same award-giving body in 2000. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the third-best-selling female artist and seventeenth overall recording artist with shipments of 63 million albums in the United States. In 2008, Carey earned her eighteenth number one single on the Hot 100, the most for any solo artist. Aside from her commercial accomplishments, she has earned five Grammy Awards and is known for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and use of the whistle register.

Life and music career

Childhood and youth

Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York. She is the third and youngest child of Patricia Carey (nee Hickey), a former opera singer and vocal coach, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. Her mother was Irish American and her father was of Afro-Venezuelan and African American descent; her paternal grandfather, Roberto Nunez, changed his surname to Carey to better assimilate upon moving to the United States from Venezuela. Carey was named after the song "They Call the Wind Mariah". Carey's parents divorced when she was three years old. While she lived in Huntington, racist neighbors allegedly poisoned the family dog and set fire to her family's car. After her parents' divorce, she had little contact with her father and her mother worked several jobs to support the family. Carey spent much of her time at home, alone, and turned to music to occupy herself. She began to sing at around the age of three, when her mother began to teach her, after Carey imitated her mother practicing Verdi's opera Rigoletto in Italian.

Carey graduated from Harborfields High School, in Greenlawn, New York. She was frequently absent, because of her work as a demo singer for local recording studios; her classmates consequently gave her the nickname "Mirage". Her work in the Long Island music scene provided opportunities to work with musicians, such as Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies, with whom she co-wrote material for her demo tape. After she moved to New York City, she worked part-time jobs to pay the rent and she completed 500 hours of beauty school. Eventually, she became a backup singer for Puerto Rican freestyle singer Brenda K. Starr.

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

Early commercial success (1989–92)

Carey co-wrote the tracks on her 1990 debut album Mariah Carey and she has co-written most of her material since. During the recording, she expressed dissatisfaction with the contributions of producers such as Ric Wake and Rhett Lawrence, whom the executives at Columbia had enlisted to help to make the album more commercially viable. Allmusic wrote, "Carey convincingly seizes many opportunities to display her incredible vocal range, on such memorable tracks as the popular 'Vision of Love', the energetic 'Someday' and the moody sounds of the hidden treasure 'Vanishing.' With this collection of songs that acts as a springboard for future successes, Carey establishes a strong standard of comparison for other breakthrough artists of this genre." Many critics expressed how Mariah Carey was one of the most impressive debuts of the year, and praised its songs, lyrics and Carey's voice and songwriting. Backed by a substantial promotional budget, the album reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for several weeks. It yielded four number-one singles and made Carey a star in the United States but it was less successful in other countries. Critics rated the album highly, which assisted Carey's Grammy wins for Best New Artist, and—for her debut single, "Vision of Love"—Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Mariah Carey was also the best selling album of 1991 in the United States.

Carey conceived Emotions, her second album, as an homage to Motown soul music (see Motown Sound), and she worked with Walter Afanasieff and Clivilles & Cole (from the dance group C+C Music Factory) on the record. It was released soon after her debut album — in late 1991 — but was neither as critically or commercially successful; Rolling Stone described it as "more of the same, with less interesting material pop-psych love songs played with airless, intimidating expertise" and adds that her singing is "more impressive than expressive." Once, again, AllMusic rated the album positively and called it "A strong follow-up to Mariah Carey's self-titled debut album, Emotions puts to rest any concern of a "sophomore slump." The one emotion that prevails, upon completion of the album, is definitely a positive one: satisfaction." The title track "Emotions" made Carey into the only recording act whose first five singles have reached number one on the U.S. Hot 100 chart, although the album's follow-up singles failed to match this feat. Carey had lobbied to produce her own songs and, beginning with Emotions, she has co-produced most of her material. "I didn't want [Emotions] to be somebody else's vision of me," she said. "There's more of me on this album."

Although Carey performed live occasionally, stage fright prevented her from embarking on a major tour. Her first widely seen appearance was featured on the television show MTV Unplugged in 1992, and she remarked that she felt that her performance that night proved her vocal abilities were not, as some had previously speculated, simulated with studio equipment. Alongside acoustic versions of some of her earlier songs, Carey premiered a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There", with her back-up singer Trey Lorenz. The duet was released as a single, reached number one in the U.S. and led to a record deal for Lorenz, whose debut album Carey later co-produced. Because of high ratings for the Unplugged television special, the concert's set list was released on the EP MTV Unplugged, which Entertainment Weekly called "the strongest, most genuinely musical record she has ever made Did this live performance help her to take her first steps toward growing up?."

International success (1993–96)

Carey and Tommy Mottola had become involved romantically during the making of her debut album and, in June 1993, they were married. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds consulted on the album Music Box, which was released later that year and became Carey's most successful worldwide. The album maintained a presence on the Billboard 200 for a staggering 128 weeks. It yielded her first UK Singles Chart number-one, a cover of Badfinger's "Without You", and the U.S. number-ones "Dreamlover" and "Hero". Billboard magazine proclaimed it "heart-piercing easily the most elemental of Carey's releases, her vocal eurythmics in natural sync with the songs", but TIME magazine's Christopher John Farley lamented Carey's attempt at a mellower work, "[Music Box] seems perfunctory and almost passionless Carey could be a pop-soul great; instead, she has once again settled for Salieri-like mediocrity." AllMusic adds, "Carey sounds detached on several selections. She scored a couple of huge hits, "Hero" and "Dreamlover", where she did inject some personality and intensity into the leads. Most other times, Carey blended into the background and allowed the tracks guide her, instead of pushing and exploding through them. It was wise for Carey to display other elements of her approach but, sometimes, excessive spirit is preferable to an absence of passion", and Rolling Stone expressed mixed sentiments and said, "Some of the songs appear to be strongly influenced by other hits. "Hero," with its message of self-sufficiency, aims for the inspirational grandeur of "Greatest Love of All", while "Just to Hold You Once Again" and "All I've Ever Wanted" chase the tail of "I Will Always Love You." In fact, Music Box is so precisely calculated to be a blockbuster that its impact is ultimately a little unnerving." In response to such comments, Carey said, "As soon as you have a big success, a lot of people don't like that. There's nothing that I can do about it. All I can do is to make music that I believe in." Most critics slighted the opening of her subsequent U.S. Music Box Tour. Farley balanced his critique with some positive observations: "The gospel flavored 'Anytime You Need A Friend' demonstrates Carey's vocal power, although too fleetingly. And the title cut is one of Carey's loveliest songs to date..."

In late 1994, after her duet with Luther Vandross on a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's "Endless Love" became a hit, Carey released the holiday album Merry Christmas. It contained cover material and original compositions, such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which became Carey's biggest single in Japan and, in subsequent years, emerged as one of her most perennially popular songs on U.S. radio. Critical reception of Merry Christmas was mixed, with Allmusic calling it an "otherwise vanilla set pretensions to high opera on 'O Holy Night' and a horrid danceclub take on 'Joy to the World'." It became one of the most successful Christmas albums of all time.

In 1995, Columbia released Carey's fourth studio album, Daydream, which combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. A remix of "Fantasy", its first single, featured rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. Carey said that Columbia reacted negatively to her intentions for the album: "Everybody was like 'What, are you crazy?'. They're very nervous about breaking the formula." The New Yorker noted that "It became standard for R&B stars, like Missy Eliott and Beyonce, to combine melodies with rapped verses." John Norris of MTV News has stated that the remix was "responsible for, I would argue, an entire wave of music that we've seen since and that is the R&B-hip-hop collaboration. You could argue that the 'Fantasy' remix was the single most important recording that she's ever made." Norris echoed the sentiments of TLC's Lisa Lopes, who told MTV that it's because of Mariah that we have "R&B." Daydream became her biggest-selling album in the U.S. and its singles achieved similar success — "Fantasy" became the second single to debut at number one in the U.S. and topped the Canadian Singles Chart for twelve weeks; "One Sweet Day" (a duet with Boyz II Men) spent a record-holding sixteen weeks at number one in the U.S.; and "Always Be My Baby" (co-produced by Jermaine Dupri) was the most successful record on U.S. radio in 1996, according to Billboard magazine. The album also generated career-best reviews for Carey, and publications such as The New York Times named it as one of 1995's best albums; the Times wrote that its "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 clich?s." and AllMusic adds, "Daydream is her best record to date, and features a consistently strong selection of songs and a remarkably impassioned performance by Carey. A few of the songs are second-rate — particularly the cover of Journey's "Open Arms" — but Daydream demonstrates that Carey continues to perfect her craft and that she has earned her status as an R&B diva." The short but profitable Daydream World Tour augmented sales of the album. The music industry took note of Carey's success — she 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 tracks were respectively nominated for six categories in the 38th Grammy Awards. Carey, along with Boyz II Men, opened the event with a performance of "One Sweet Day," which was mightily applauded. In contrast, throughout the night, she was not called to the stage to receive even one Grammy. The cameras started to focus on Carey, revealing the fact that it was becoming harder for her to retain a smile. Her disappointment was becoming obvious. Although many critics proclaimed Daydream as the best album of 1995, she ended that night with no awards. Carey eventually was able to deal with this incident. "What can you do?" The singer asked. "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 "Artist of the year" in Japan.

New image and independence (1997–2000)

Carey and Mottola officially separated in 1997. Although the public image of the marriage was a happy one, she said that, in reality, she had felt trapped by her relationship with Mottola, whom she often described as controlling. They officially announced their separation in 1997 and their divorce became final in the following year. Soon after the separation, Carey hired an independent publicist and a new attorney and manager. She continued to write and produce for other artists during this period and contributedto the debut albums of Allure and 7 Mile through her short-lived imprint Crave Records.

Carey's next album, Butterfly (1997), yielded the number-one single "Honey", the lyrics and music video which presented a more overtly sexual image of her than had been previously seen. She stated that Butterfly marked the point when she attained full creative control over her music. However, she added, "I don't think that it's 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 were generally positive: Rolling Stone wrote, "Carey couldn't have wished for a better start than "Honey," it's an undeniably catchy pop record that revamps her sound and image. 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. Except "Outside" the album sounds] very 1997. Carey has spread her wings and she's ready to fly", LAUNCHcast said Butterfly "pushes the envelope", a move that its critic thought "may prove disconcerting to more conservative fans" but praised as "a welcome change." The Los Angeles Times wrote, "[Butterfly] is easily the most personal, confessional-sounding record she's ever done Carey-bashing just might become a thing of the past." and AllMusic adds "Carey's vocals are sultrier and more controlled than ever, and that helps "Butterfly," "Break Down," "Babydoll," and the Prince cover, "The Beautiful Ones," rank among her best; also, the ballads do have a stronger urban feel than before. Even though Butterfly doesn't have as many strong singles as Daydream, it's 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 three albums—and "My All" (her thirteenth Hot 100 number-one) gave her the record for the most U.S. number-ones by a female artist.

Toward the turn of the millennium, Carey developed the film project Glitter and wrote songs for the films Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). During the production of Butterfly, Carey became romantically involved with New York Yankees baseball star Derek Jeter. Their relationship ended in 1998, with both parties citing media interference as the main reason for the split. The same year, Columbia released the album #1's, a collection of Carey's U.S. number-one singles alongside new material, which, she said, was a way to reward her fans. The song "When You Believe", a duet with Whitney Houston, was recorded for the soundtrack of The Prince of Egypt (1998) and won an Academy Award. #1's sold above expectations but a review in NME labeled Carey "a purveyor of saccharine bilge like 'Hero', whose message seems wholesome enough: that if you vacate your mind of all intelligent thought, flutter your eyelashes and wish hard, sweet babies and honey will follow." Also that year, she appeared on the first televised VH1 Divas benefit concert program, although her alleged prima donna behavior had already led many to consider her a diva.

Rainbow, Carey's sixth studio album, was released in 1999 and comprised more R&B/hip hop–oriented songs, with many of them co-created with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. "Heartbreaker" and "Thank God I Found You" (the former featuring Jay-Z, the latter featuring Joe and boy band 98 Degrees) reached number one in the U.S. and the success of the former made Carey the only act to have a number-one single in each year of the 1990s. A cover of Phil Collins's "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" went to number one in the UK, after Carey re-recorded it with boy band Westlife. Media 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, Usher It's a polished collection of pop-soul." VIBE magazine expressed similar sentiments, writing, "She pulls out all stops Rainbow will garner even more adoration", but AllMusic states, "It's a bit ballad-heavy, which makes Rainbow seem a little samey. Yet, that's not the only reason why the record has a weird sense of deja vu, since this follows the same formula as its two predecessors, distinguished primarily by her newfound fondness for flashing flesh. That repetition isn't necessarily a problem, because she does formula very well and manages to appeal to both housewives as well as b-boys. Rainbow proves that she can still pull off that difficult balancing act but it's hard not to be a little disappointed that she'd didn't shake the music up a little bit more — after all, it would have been a more effective album if the heartbreak, sorrow and joy that bubbles underneath the music were brought to the surface." and it became Carey's lowest-selling album up to that point, and there was a recurring criticism that the tracks were too alike. When the double A-side "Crybaby" (featuring Snoop Dogg)/"Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" became her first single to peak outside the U.S. top twenty, Carey accused Sony of underpromoting it: "The political situation in my professional career is not positive I get a lot of negative feedback from certain corporate people," she wrote, on her official website.

Personal and professional struggles (2001–04)

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 a contract with EMI's Virgin Records worth a reported US$80 million. 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 relationship with 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." During an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, to which she showed up unannounced and to the apparent bewilderment of host Carson Daly, Carey handed out popsicles to the audience and began what was later described as a "striptease". By the month's end, she had checked into a hospital and her publicist announced that Carey would take a break from public appearances.

Critics panned Glitter, Carey's much delayed semi-autobiographical film and it was a box office failure. The accompanying soundtrack album, Glitter, was inspired by the music of the 1980s and featured collaborations with Rick James and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; it generated Carey's worst showing on the U.S. chart. 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", while Blender magazine opined, "After years of trading her signature flourishes for a radio-ready purr, Carey's left with almost no presence at all." The lead single, "Loverboy" (which features Cameo), reached number two on the Hot 100, due to the release of the physical single, but the album's follow-up singles failed to chart; however, a live rendition/medley of the single, "Never Too Far", made its way to number 81.

Later, in the year, Columbia released the low-charting compilation album Greatest Hits, shortly after the failure of Glitter, and, in early 2002, Virgin bought out Carey's contract for $28 million, and created further negative publicity. 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 $22.5 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, she performed the American national anthem in front of an audience at the Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Following a well-received supporting role in the 2002 film WiseGirls, Carey released the album Charmbracelet, which, she said, marked "a new lease on life" for her. Sales of Charmbracelet were moderate and the quality of Carey's vocals came under severe criticism. 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", and Rolling Stone commented, "Carey needs bold songs that help her use the power and range for which she is famous. Charmbracelet is like a stream of watercolors that bleed into a puddle of brown", AllMusic expressed similar sentiments and said "There are no good songs on this record, outside of Def Leppard's power ballad classic "Bringin on the Heartbreak," which isn't even covered all that well. What is a greater problem is that Mariah's voice is shot, sounding in tatters throughout the record. Whenever she sings, there's a raspy whistle behind her thin voice and she strains to make notes throughout the record. She cannot coo or softly croon nor can she perform her trademark gravity-defying vocal runs. Her voice is damaged and there's not a moment where it sounds strong or inviting. That, alone, would be disturbing but, because the songs are formless and the production bland — another reason why the hip-hop announces itself, even though it's nowhere near as pronounced as it has been since Butterfly — her tired voice becomes the only thing to concentrate on and it's a sad, ugly thing, which makes an album - that would merely have been her worst - into something tragic." The album's only charting single in America, "Through the Rain", was a failure on pop radio, which had become less open to maturing "diva" stylists, such as Celine Dion, or Carey, herself, in favor of younger singers such as Christina Aguilera, who had vocal styles very similar to Carey's.

"I Know What You Want", a 2003 Busta Rhymes single on which Carey guest starred, fared considerably better and reached the U.S. top five; it was also included on Columbia's release of The Remixes, a compilation of Carey's best remixes and some new tracks. That year, she embarked on the Charmbracelet World Tour and was awarded the Chopard Diamond award for selling more than 100 million albums worldwide. She was featured on rapper Jadakiss's 2004 single "U Make Me Wanna", which reached the top ten on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Carey has made a legal threat against porn star Mary Carey, believing the names are too similar.

Return to prominence (2005–08)

Carey's tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), contained contributions from producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey's longtime collaborator, Jermaine Dupri. Carey said it was "very much like a party record the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that." The Emancipation of Mimi became 2005's best-selling album in the U.S. The Guardian reviewer 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"., but New York Daily News states, "Carey has brought back that trademark dog-whistle that she exploited in the callow part of her career with a vengeance and used it on 11 of the CD's 14 tracks. 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. If no one can question the scope of Carey's voice, it's too bad that she has again used it to say nothing." The album earned a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album and the single "We Belong Together" won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. "We Belong Together" held the Hot 100's number-one position for fourteen weeks, her longest run at the top as a solo lead artist. Subsequently, the single "Shake It Off" reached number two for a week, which made Carey the first female lead vocalist to have simultaneously held the Hot 100's top two positions. (While it topped the charts in 2002, Ashanti was the "featured" singer on the number two single.) 2005 proved to be a good year for Carey, as We Belong Together reached number one on Billboard's year end chart for Hot 100 singles and The Emancipation of Mimi is classed as the best selling album of 2005 by Nielsen SoundScan.

In mid-2006, Carey began The Adventures of Mimi Tour, which was the most successful of her career, although some dates had to be canceled. She appeared on the cover of the March, 2007, edition of Playboy magazine in a non-nude photo session. In early 2007, she was featured with Bow Wow on the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony single "Lil' L.O.V.E.".

By spring 2007, she had begun to work on her eleventh studio album, E=MC2. Asked about the album title's meaning, Carey said "Einstein's theory? Physics? Me? Hello! ...Of course I'm poking fun." She characterized the project as "Emancipation of Mimi to the second power", and said that she was "freer" on this album than any other. Like her previous one, this album mainly concentrates on pop and R&B but borrows hip hop, gospel and even reggae ("Cruise Control") elements. Although E=MC2 was well received by most critics, some of them criticized it for being "a clone of The Emancipation of Mimi". Bleu Magazine's critic said that the "facsimiles aren't terrible, they're just boring and forgettable at this point." Two weeks before the album's release, on April 2, 2008, "Touch My Body", her first single from the album, became Carey's eighteenth number-one single on the Hot 100, pushing her past Elvis Presley into second place for the most number-one singles among all artists in the rock era, according to Billboard magazine's revised methodology. Carey is now second only to The Beatles, who have twenty number-one singles. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, making it the biggest opening week sales of her career.

Carey's singles have collectively topped the charts for seventy-nine weeks, which places her just behind Presley, who topped the charts for a combined eighty weeks. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked her at number six on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists", making Carey the second most successful female artist (behind Madonna) in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Carey has also had notable success on international charts, though not to the same degree as in the United States. Thus far, she has had two number-one singles in Britain, two in Australia, and six in Canada. Her highest-charting single in Japan peaked at number two. Carey and actor/comedian/rapper Nick Cannon met while they shot Carey's music video for her second single "Bye Bye" on a private island of the coast of Antigua. On April 30, 2008, Carey married Cannon at her private estate on Windermere Island in The Bahamas. In October 2008, Carey was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and Merry Christmas II You (2009–present)

Carey performed "Hero" at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball after Barack Obama was sworn in as America's first African-American president on January 20, 2009. On July 7, 2009, Carey – alongside Trey Lorenz – performed her version of the Jackson 5 hit "I'll Be There" at the memorial service for Michael Jackson in the Los Angeles Staples Center. Carey was featured on "My Love", the second single from singer-songwriter The-Dream's album Love vs. Money.

Carey's twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel was released on September 25, 2009. The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics. John Bush 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 mid 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", became her 40th entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and her highest debut on the chart since "My All" in 1998. The song 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. Within hours after the song's release, various outlets speculated that its target was rapper Eminem, in response to his song "Bagpipes from Baghdad," in which he taunted Carey's husband, Nick Cannon by telling him to back off and that Carey is his. According to MTV, Carey alludes to drug problems in "Obsessed," which Eminem opened up about on his sixth studio album, Relapse. The album's follow-up singles failed to achieve commercial success. The second single, a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is", peaked at number 60 and the third single, "H.A.T.E.U.", failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100. On December 31, 2009, Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, which visited the United States and Canada. Later it was announced that Carey would release two remix albums of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel; titled Angels Advocate (an R&B remix album featuring a collection of newly remixed duets with some of Carey's favorite artists) and MC vs JS (a dance album entirely remixed by the Jump Smokers). In January 2010, "Up Out My Face" featuring Nicki Minaj and "Angels Cry" featuring Ne-Yo were released as the lead singles from Angels Advocate. Both albums were slated for a March 2010 release, but were eventually cancelled.

Following the cancellation of the remix albums, it was announced that Carey will go back to the studio to start work on her second Christmas album and her 13th studio album. Fashion photographer David LaChapelle told The Times on April 24, 2010, that he shot the album's artwork. Long time collaborators for the project include Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox. Dupri stated that a single will be released by the end of 2010. Johnta Austin and Randy Jackson are also contributing to the project. During a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, in August 2010, Island Def Jam executive Matt Voss announced that the Christmas album would be out in November 2 and will include six new songs and a remix of her all time classic hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You". The album will be titled Merry Christmas II You, a follow-up to her 1994 multiplatinum album Merry Christmas. An accompanying DVD is also reported to be released alongside the CD. According to 'Showbiz 411' Carey has produced and recorded tracks with the Broadway producer Marc Shaiman.

Misc.

Acting career

Carey began to take professional acting lessons in 1997, and in the coming year, she was auditioning for film roles. She made her debut as an opera singer in the romantic comedy The Bachelor (1999), starring Chris O'Donnell and Renee Zellweger. CNN referred derisively to her casting as a talentless diva as "letter-perfect the "can't act" part informs Carey's entire performance". Carey's first starring role was in Glitter (2001), in which she played a struggling musician in the 1980s who breaks into the music industry after meeting a disc jockey (Max Beesley). Though Roger Ebert said "[Carey]'s acting ranges from dutiful flirtatiousness to intense sincerity", most critics panned it: Halliwell's Film Guide called it a "vapid star vehicle for a pop singer with no visible acting ability", and The Village Voice observed: "When [Carey] tries for an emotion — any emotion — she looks as if she's lost her car keys." Glitter was a box office failure, and Carey earned a Razzie Award for her role. She later said that the film "started out as a concept with substance, but it ended up being geared to 10-year-olds. It lost a lot of grit I kind of got in over my head."

Carey, Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters co-starred as waitresses at a mobster-operated restaurant in the independent film WiseGirls (2002), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival but went straight to cable in the U.S. Critics commended Carey for her efforts — 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 Friedman, 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 The Sweet Science (2006), a film about an unknown female boxer recruited by a boxing manager, but it never entered production. Carey was one of several musicians who appeared in the independently produced Damon Dash films Death of a Dynasty (2003) and State Property 2 (2005). Her television work has been limited to a January 2002 episode of Ally McBeal. Carey had a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler's 2008 film You Don't Mess with the Zohan, playing herself.

In 2006, Carey joined the cast of the indie film Tennessee (2008), taking the role of an aspiring singer who flees her controlling husband and joins two brothers on a journey to find their long-lost father. The movie received mixed reviews, but most of them raved about Carey's performance and praised it as "understated and very effective." In 2009, she appeared as a social worker in Precious, the movie adaptation of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film has garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, as has Carey's performance. Variety described her acting as "pitch-perfect". So far Precious has won awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, receiving top awards there. In January 2010, Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance award for her role in Precious at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. In May 2010, Carey, citing medical reasons, dropped out of her planned appearance in the film adaptation of the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

Artistry

Carey has said that from childhood she has been influenced by R&B and soul musicians such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, she attends an episcopal church and her favorite gospel singers include The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins. 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).

During Carey's career, her vocal and musical style, along with her level of success, has been compared to Whitney Houston 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". In She Bop II: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul (2002), 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 her own songs, and the Guinness Rockopedia (1998) classified her as the "songbird supreme". Despite the fact that Carey is often credited with co-writing her material, she has also been accused of plagiarism on several occasions. Many of these cases were eventually settled out of court.

Voice

Mariah Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range, and 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, Carey states:

"I have nodules on my vocal cords. My mother says I've had them since I was a kid. That's why I have the high register and the belting register and I can still be husky. The only thing that really affects my voice is sleep. Sometimes if I'm exhausted I can't hit the really high notes." "My doctors showed me my vocal chords and why I can hit those high notes. It's a certain part of the chord that not many people use—the very top. My natural voice is low. I have a raspy voice. I'm really more of an alto. But my airy voice can be high if I'm rested. When I was little, I'd talk in this really high whisper, and my mom would be like, "You're being ridiculous." I thought if I can talk like that I can sing like that. So I started [she goes higher and higher and higher] just messing around with it. I'd practice and practice, and she'd be like, "You're gonna hurt yourself." I'd tell her, It doesn’t hurt/ If I were to try and belt two octaves lower than that, that would be a strain."

She also explains that it was Minnie Riperton who influenced her to use the whistle register.

Voice experts expressed mixed statements about Carey's voice. French-American baritone and singing teacher in the Conservatoire de Paris Malcolm Walker as well as music critic Stephen Holden of The New York Times said:

"The low register is "tired", "distended." The medium is "pleasurable and possesses an ample vibrato." The belting register is "pure, full, ample and warm, but this register is often forced, scratchy above E-flat one octave and an half above middle C [E5]." The head voice as well as the whistle register are "pure, bright and ample, with an impressive power until B nearly three octaves above middle C [B6]."

Vocal pedagogue Jeannette Lo Vetri make the same findings, stating:

"Althought she can reaches alto bottom notes, she does not have a good control of the low register. Until she stay in soprano bottom range, it’s easy, well mastered, but when she passes in mezzo or contralto low range, the sound is unhealthy. In contrast, she possesses a superb top. It’s crystal-clear—thought sometimes it’s breathy—, it’s effortless, agile, sweet, and luminous. She also have rounded, warm, full medium and upper chest register, especially in 1996. Thought the medium is often breathy and thin— for example: "Butterfly", "Without You" or "Against All Odds" — and that her highest notes in upper chest register sometimes sounds strained and raspy— like the high E’s in "Butterfly", the high F at the end of "Prisoner" or the high D’s at the end of 'Make It Happen'."

Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker adds her timbre possesses various colors, saying, "Carey's sound changes with nearly every line, mutating from a steely tone to a vibrating growl and then to a humid, breathy coo." Her wide vocal range allows Carey to take melodies from alto bottom notes to coloratura soprano upper register, and, according to music crictic Jim Faber of New York Daily News, she can "cover all the octaves between [those voice types], and [possesses] the agility to move between ... with swiftness and aplomb." Carey also possesses what she calls "whisper register". In an interview with the singer, Ron Givens of Entertainment Weekly described it this way, "[f]irst, a rippling, soulful ooh comes rolling effortlessly from her throat: alto. Then, after a quick breath, she goes for the stratosphere, with a sound that nearly changes the barometric pressure in the room. In one brief swoop, she seems to squeal and roar at the same time: whisper register."

Voice experts praise Carey's vocal technique, like Stephen Holden who said, "[s]he can deliver very accurate staccatos as well as tricky melismas, and she possesses a beautiful and solid trill in upper register". Jeanette Lo Vetri states, "Carey is really a great technician. The staccatos are pin point, executed with amazing speed and control, the legato is a marvel of smoothness, she is the supreme mistress of melismas, she always keeps a neutral larynx position— except sometimes in her lower register— and she glides effortlessly from bottom to top and vice versa." Malcolm Walker adds her vocal lines are "very well led, especially in piano register." And Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker writes, "She is a master practitioner of melisma. "Vision of Love" is the Magna Carta of melisma. It begins with several bars of lovely, wordless melisma, as if Carey were warming up, and it ends with two very loud passages of melisma, one of them an a-cappella expansion on the word all."

Themes and musical style

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." Rolling Stone expressed similar sentiments, saying, "Carey has a remarkable vocal gift, but to date, unfortunately, her singing has been far more impressive than expressive", "She wails notes that don't need emphasizing, then whispers what would ordinarily be climactic phrases, and the outcome doesn't make emotional or musical sense." New York Daily News continues in the same direction, saying, "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. If no one can question the scope of Carey's voice it's too bad she has again used it to say nothing." The Village Voice wrote in 2001 that, in that respect, Carey compared unfavorably with singers such as Mary J. Blige, saying "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 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."

Carey's output makes use of electronic instruments such as drum machines, keyboards and synthesizers. Many of her songs contain piano music, and she was given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said that she cannot read sheet music and prefers to collaborate with a pianist when composing her material, but feels that it is easier to experiment with faster and less conventional melodies and chord progressions using this technique. Some of her arrangements have been inspired by the work of musicians such as Stevie Wonder, a soul pianist to whom Carey once referred as "the genius of the [twentieth] century", but she has said, "My voice is my instrument; it always has been."

Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped to spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes. Disc jockey David Morales has collaborated with Carey several times, starting with "Dreamlover" (1993), which popularized the tradition of remixing R&B songs into house records, and which Slant magazine named one of the greatest dance songs of all time. From "Fantasy" (1995) onward, Carey enlisted both hip hop and house producers to re-imagine her album compositions. Entertainment Weekly included two remixes of "Fantasy" on a list of Carey's greatest recordings compiled in 2005: a National Dance Music Award-winning remix produced by Morales, and a Sean Combs production featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. The latter has been credited with popularizing the R&B/hip hop collaboration trend that has continued into the 2000s through artists such as Ashanti and Beyonce. Combs said that Carey "knows the importance of mixes, so you feel like you're with an artist who appreciates your work—an artist who wants to come up with something with you". She continues to consult on remixes by producers such as Morales, Jermaine Dupri, Junior Vasquez and DJ Clue, and guest performers contribute frequently to them.

Legacy

Carey's vocal style and singing ability has significantly impacted popular and contemporary music. 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." Beyonce Knowles 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. 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 stars like Missy Elliott and Beyonce, to combine melodies with rapped verses. And young white pop stars—including Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and Christina Aguilera—have spent much of the past ten years making pop music that is unmistakably R&B." According to Pier Dominguez, author of Christina Aguilera: a star is made : the unauthorized biography, 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's image, struck a chord on Aguilera. Her influence on Aguilera also grew from the fact that both were of mixed heritage. Philip Brasor, editor of "The Japan Times," expressed how Carey's vocal and melismatic style even influenced Asian singers. He wrote regarding Japanese superstar Utada 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 a career spanning over 20 years, Carey has sold over 200 million albums, singles and videos worldwide, making her one of the biggest-selling artists in music history. Possessing a five-octave vocal range, Carey was ranked first in MTV and Blender magazine's 2003 countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music, and was placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists". Aside from her voice, she has become known for her songwriting. Yahoo Music editor, Jason Ankeny wrote, "She earned frequent comparison to rivals Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, but did them both one better by composing all of her own material." According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States. At the 2000 World Music Awards, Carey was given a Legend Award for being the "best-selling female pop artist of the millennium," as well as the "Best-selling artist of the 90s" in the United States, after releasing a series of albums of multi-platinum status, such as Music Box and Number 1's. She is also a recipient of the Chopard Diamond Award in 2003, recognizing sales of over 100 million albums worldwide. Carey is ranked as the best-selling female artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era, with over 52 million copies sold. Additionally, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists Carey as the third best-selling female artist, with shipments of over 63 million units in the U.S. In Japan, Carey has the top four highest-selling albums of all time by a non-Asian artist.

Carey has spent a record 79 weeks at the number-one position on Billboard Hot 100, becoming the artist with the most weeks at number-one in U.S. chart history. On that same chart, she has accumulated 18 number-one singles, making her the solo artist with the most number-one singles in the chart's history. In 1994, Carey released her holiday album "Merry Christmas", which became one of the best-selling Christmas album of all time, selling over 12 million copies. It also produced the successful single, "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which became the only holiday song and ringtone to reach multi-platinum status in the U.S. In Japan, Number 1's has sold over 3,250,000 copies and is the best-selling album of all time in Japan by a non-Asian artist. After Carey's success in Asia with Merry Christmas, Billboard estimated Carey as the all time best-selling international artist in Japan. Her hit single "One Sweet Day", which featured Boyz II Men, spent sixteen consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1996, setting the record for the most weeks atop the Hot 100 chart in history. After Carey's success in Asia with Merry Christmas, Billboard estimated Carey as the all time best-selling international artist in Japan. In 2008, Billboard magazine listed "We Belong Together" ninth on The Billboard: All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs and the most successful song of the first decade of the 21st century. In 2009, Carey's cover of Foreigner's classic, "I Want to Know What Love Is" became the longest-running number-one song in Brazilian singles chart history, spending 27 consecutive weeks at number-one. Additionally, Carey has had three songs debut at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100: "Fantasy", "One Sweet Day" and "Honey", making her the artist with the most number-one debuts in the chart's 52 year history. Also, she is the first female artist to debut at number 1 in the U.S. with "Fantasy".

Philanthropy and other activities

Carey is a philanthropist who has donated time and money to organizations such as the Fresh Air Fund. She became associated with the Fund in the early 1990s, and is the co-founder of a camp located in Fishkill, New York, that enables inner-city youth to embrace the arts and introduces them to career opportunities. The camp was called Camp Mariah "for her generous support and dedication to Fresh Air children", and she received a Congressional Horizon Award for her youth-related charity work. She is well-known nationally for her work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation in granting the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, and in November 2006 she was awarded the Foundation's Wish Idol for her "extraordinary generosity and her many wish granting achievements". Carey has volunteered for the New York City Police Athletic League and contributed to the obstetrics department of New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Medical Center. A percentage of the sales of MTV Unplugged was donated to various other charities. In 2008, Carey was named Hunger Ambassador of the World Hunger Relief Movement. She is giving a free download of her song, "Love Story", to customers who donate to the organization at participating restaurants. In February 2010, the song, "100%", which was originally written and recorded for the film, Precious, was used as one of the theme songs for the 2010 Winter Olympics, with all money proceeds going to Team USA.

One of Carey's most high-profile benefit concert appearances was on VH1's 1998 Divas Live special, during which she performed alongside other female singers in support of the Save the Music Foundation. The concert was a ratings success, and Carey participated in the Divas 2000 special. In 2007, the Save the Music Foundation honored Carey at their tenth gala event for her support towards the foundation since its inception. She appeared at the America: A Tribute to Heroes nationally televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and in December 2001, she performed before peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. Carey hosted the CBS television special At Home for the Holidays, which documented real-life stories of adopted children and foster families, and she has worked with the New York City Administration for Children's Services. In 2005, Carey performed for Live 8 in London and at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon "Shelter from the Storm". In August 2008, Carey and other singers recorded the charity single, "Just Stand Up" produced by Babyface and L. A. Reid, to support "Stand Up to Cancer". On September 5, the singers performed it live on TV.

Declining offers to appear in commercials in the United States during her early career, Carey was not involved in brand marketing initiatives until 2006, when she participated in endorsements for Intel Centrino personal computers and launched a jewelry and accessories line for teenagers, Glamorized, in American Claire's and Icing stores. During this period, as part of a partnership with Pepsi and Motorola, Carey recorded and promoted a series of exclusive ringtones, including "Time of Your Life". She signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, and in 2007, she released her own fragrance, "M". According to Forbes, Carey was the sixth richest woman in entertainment as of January 2007[update], with an estimated net worth of US $225 million. Carey directed or co-directed several of the music videos for her singles during the 1990s. Slant magazine named the video for "The Roof (Back in Time)", which Carey co-directed with Diane Martel, one of the twenty greatest music videos of all time. In 2008, Carey made Time's annual list of 100 most Influential people. In January 2010, Carey announced via Twitter that she is launching a new rose champagne brand called Angel Champagne.







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