Mariah Carey was born Mariah Angela Carey in Huntington, New York, on March 27, 1969, to an Irish-American mother Patricia Hickey and an African American/Venezuelan father Alfred Roy Carey. Her mother was a mezzo-soprano New York City opera singer and a freelance vocal coach, while her father was an aeronautical engineer. Carey, the third and youngest, has siblings Alison and Morgan, who were significantly older by ten years.
Predestined to be a multiracial family, the Carey menage were faced with racial insult, hostility and even violence, with crosses being burnt on their lawn, their dogs poisoned, their car blown up, and a shot fired through the kitchen window during mealtime. In addition, her mother Patricia was disowned by her family when she married Alfred Roy Carey.
The bad experiences had caused the whole family to move from place to place around New York area to find more friendly neighborhoods. Also, those incidents caused Carey great distress and created tension within the family itself, which then led Alfred and Patricia to get divorced in 1972 when Carey was still three. After her parents' divorce, Carey and Morgan stayed with their mother while Alison stayed with their father.
Living away from her father and having little contact with him were too much for such a little girl like Carey but life had to go on somehow. As a single mother, Patricia had to struggle with two or three jobs and continued moving among different towns on Long Island. Though so, she managed to provide a spirited, loving household for her children.
Having a good vocal quality, Carey began singing when she was three and it happened by accident that her mother realized early on her tremendous potential. One day when her mother was rehearsing her role of Maddalena in Verdi's "Opera Rigolettos", she heard Carey imitating her singing perfectly. Since then, her mother began teaching her how to develop her vocal skills, despite the fact that she was only three years old.
So, during the year of 1974, Patricia nurtured her daughter's talent by coaching her at home without trying to force the issue too much. She first performed in public when she was six, singing for friends and performing in talent shows and folk-music festivals.
At the age of 16 years old, Carey entered Oldfield Middle School and started to find a new interest which was not far from singing, writing her own songs. Having strong passion in crafting songs, Carey frequently skipped classes and poured her spirit in penning songs and dreaming about becoming a famous singer.
When she enrolled at the Harborfield High School, she started traveling back and forth to Manhattan in order to study music with professionals. That's why she was jokingly named "Mirage" by her high school friends and rarely showed up for class. Wishing to break into the music business, Carey took part-time job after school, singing on demo tapes at Long Island studios.
Before she got her big break, Carey already completed 500 hours of beauty school, worked as a hair sweeper in a salon, and also worked as a waitress and as a coat check girl. On her sixteenth birthday, her brother Morgan paid the cost of her first professional recording session in Manhattan, and there she met keyboard player and songwriter Ben Margulies who later on became her songwriting partner and close friend. In 1987, Carey graduated from Harborfields High School on Long Island and subsequently moved to Manhattan, recording and offering her demo tape to record companies. One year later, all of her hard work came to fruition. She got into an audition and landed a job as a back-up singer for Brenda K. Starr.
In November that year, Brenda dragged her to a party, where Carey by chance met Columbia head Tommy Mottola, to whom she passed her tape. On his way home, Mottola listened to it in his limousine. As soon as catching her charming voice, he turned around to the party and searched for her at the bash, but she had left. The next day, Mottola approached and offered her a record deal with CBS Columbia. Then, she started recording her debut album with producers Narada Michael Walden, Ric Wake, and Rhett Lawrence, using many of the materials she and Ben Margulies had written over the last three years.
Her collaboration with those people was just the very beginning of her success, which was marked with the release of her self-titled debut album "Mariah Carey" in 1990 when she was just twenty years old. The eponymous album was a huge success, spawning four No. 1 hit singles, titled "Vision of Love", "Someday", "Love Takes Time" and "I Don't Want to Cry".
The record stayed on top of the US album charts for 22 weeks, a massive success that handed Carey two Grammys for the category of Best Female Vocalist and Best New Artist at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards held on February 20, 1991. On March 7 the same year, Carey was also named Best New Female Singer by Rolling Stone.
A second album titled "Emotions" was released in the fall of 1991 and its first single, which was the title track, was a huge success, securing the top spot on Hot 100. This album had two other Top Five singles; "Can't Let Go" and "Make It Happen".
Without waiting any longer, Carey hit studio the next year with the help from Trey Lorenz in the production and songwriting desk. Her tight recording schedule made her meet Mottola more than often and she started dating him. She finally walked down the aisle with the producer on June 5, 1993, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, New York that soon was followed by a reception held at the Metropolitan Club. Their VIP guests at the wedding bash included Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Robert De Niro and Ozzy Osbourne.
Carey released her next studio album "Music Box" in 1993. In an effort to promote the set, she embarked on her first U.S. tour, beginning from November 25, 1993 to December 10 in the same year. Like its predecessor, the album was a mega hit topping several albums chart around the globe and certified with diamond for selling more than 7 million copies.
Carey's first Christmas record was out in 1994 titled "Merry Christmas". She then followed it up with another album "Daydream". One of Carey's most successful singles in the album was "One Sweet Day" which featured Boyz II Men. The track spent a 16 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100.
Realizing that she also had loyal fans outside U.S., Carey flew to Europe and Asia for several live gigs. As a result of her success in the U.S. and outside the country, Carey's image changed drastically. She quickly went from the good girl next-door look to more of a bad girl virtually overnight. Along with these changes came her marriage problem.
In December 1996, Carey moved out of her Bedford, New York home, leaving Mottola. By January the next year, she left her marriage problems behind and started recording a new album, working with P. Diddy, David Morales, Walter Afanasieff, and others. Unfortunately, her marriage was beyond repair and she got her divorce from Motolla finalized on March 5, 1998.
Carey released "Butterfly" in 1997. The record debuted at number 1 on Hot 200. The album's first single "Honey" was a No. 1 hit and got remixes from rappers Diddy, The Lox and Ma$e. In 1998, Carey released her first compilation "#1's". The set listed such singles as "When You Believe", "Sweetheart", "I Still Believe" and many more.
Her breakthrough achievement which came one after another made her one of the American divas. She was tapped performing alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain on VH1 Divas Concert. After singing on the gig which portion of its proceed went to benefit charity program, Carey showed more of her philanthropic side, getting involved in many other social works.
During late summer of 1999, Carey came out with a new studio project "Rainbow". Aside from "Heartbreaker" which was a hit, this album didn't have other singles that were strong enough to rule the charts. During that time, she tried her hands on acting. She had a small role in the 1999's "The Bachelor" starring Renee Zellweger and another one in the film "Wiseguys" in 2002.
When her contract with longtime label Sony nearly came to an end, Carey signed a record deal with EMI's Virgin Records. But instead of making new music, Carey had to check into a mental health facility and take a break from performing in 2001 due to what was claimed as exhaustion.
After her hiatus, Carey made an acting debut in the semi-autobiographical film "Glitter" which chronicled the tumultuous rise of a singer in the 1980s. Panned by most movie critics, the film was a box office failure. Her album of the same name "Glitter" was also not quite welcomed by her fans. Worst of all, Carey was unable to do much promotion for the record due to her health concern. The album's lead single "LoverBoy" peaked at No. 2 in the Hot 100, but the album itself only managed to reach No. 7 and became her weakest showing ever, despite being hailed as one of her best works.
Due to the "Glitter" failure, EMI decided to part ways with her and they bought out her contract for $35 million. Despite the bad luck, there were several other record companies vying for her signature in the months that followed. Carey eventually found a new home to release more album in Island Def Jam in 2002. As for her love life, Carey briefly dated baseball star Derek Jeter after her divorce with Mottola. She was also romantically linked to singer Luis Miguel.
While her next album was still in the process, Carey worked on her next film project, playing a prominent role in the independent film "Wisegirls" (2002); this time, she received much better reviews from critics. Following the film, she released a new album and her first concept album "Charmbracelet" in December 2002 as part of a new deal with Island Records. The album debuted at No. 3. on Billboard Hot 200. The album included such singles, as "Through the Rain", "Boy (I Need You)" featuring rapper Cam'ron, and a cover of Def Leppard's 1980s hit "Bringin' On the Heartbreak."
Though many of Carey's devoted fans continued to buy her singles in the thousands, none of the singles took off with pop radio, which play lists had become less open to such maturing pop diva stylists as Carey herself, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion. Considering that fact, many observers came to the conclusion that Carey had lost her "radio magic." However, Carey's duet with Busta Rhymes, "I Know What You Want" in 2003, fared considerably better, reaching No. 3 at Billboard. That year, she was also awarded the World Music Awards "Diamond Award" in honor of over 100 million album sales worldwide.
Still no new album out, Carey staged the "Charmbracelet World Tour" and received favorable reviews although the press focused more on her traveling entourage, many pieces of luggage, hotel and dressing room demands, and other diva-like behaviors. The following year, she spent most of her time making her second concept album, "The Emancipation of Mimi."
In the fall, she was featured on Jadakiss's hit single "U Make Me Wanna," which managed to hit the Top 10 on Billboard's R&B chart. And in November the same year, her new song "Say Something," featuring Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams, leaked onto the Internet but was met with a lukewarm response.
On April 12, 2005, "The Emancipation of Mimi" was released. The album told the story of self-discovery and remaking one's image. It gained positive reviews, with some critics calling it Carey's best album in years. It debuted at No. 1, with nearly half a million copies sold in its first week, the highest tally of Carey's career. It's subsequently hailed as Carey's comeback album after the underwhelming critical and commercial reception of "Glitter" and "Charmbracelet."
In April 2008, the same month she got married to Nick Cannon, Carey came out with "E=MC²". The record pulled in 463,000 copies in its first week on sale, debuting atop Billboard Hot 200. There were at least four hit singles from the album. The first single was "Touch My Body" which peaked at number 1 on Hot 100, making her as a solo act with the most No. 1 single. Other singles were "Bye Bye", "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" and "I Stay in Love".
The next year, Carey recorded another studio effort "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel". She dropped "Obsessed", the lead single from the set, in June the same year. Containing lyrics "Why are you so obsessed with me/ Boy I wanna know/ Lying that you're sexing me/ When everybody knows/ It's clear that you're upset with me," the song was believed to fire back at former lover Eminem who dissed her in his single "Bagpipes to Baghdad".
Nick who defended Carey right after Eminem's song arrived denied the feud rumor between his wife and the rapper. "I don't think that she would take her time. My wife doesn't beef. She's Mariah Carey. She's not beefin', she's a vegetarian," he said. He explained the song was actually inspired by Lindsay Lohan's movie "Mean Girls".
"Imperfect Angels" experienced several pushed backs before eventually hitting the market in September 2009. It peaked at No. 3 on Hot 200, but was supported with an Angel Advocate Tour kicked off on New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden in New York City and wrapped up in February in Las Vegas' The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Carey slowed down after announcing she and her hubby announced they were expecting their first child in 2010. She gave birth to daughter and son twins, Monroe and Moroccan, in 2011 via C-section. She embraced parenthood but still managed to treat fans to a holiday album "Merry Christmas II You" while holding off her next LP.
A brand new record, "Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse", was finally announced in 2014. It's released in the U.S. on May 23, preceded by singles "Beautiful", "The Art of Letting Go", and "You're Mine (Eternal)". Despite her plan to do a Beyonce Knowles-style surprise digital release, the album got a traditional release.
Following the arrival of "Elusive Chanteuse", which debuted and peaked at No. 8 on Billboard 200, Carey was rumored to be leaving Def Jam. She reportedly planned to reunite with L.A. Reid at Epic Records. She eventually signed her deal with Epic in early 2015 and shortly after, she officially announced her Las Vegas residency.
To accompany her shows at the Caesars Palace, which started on May 6, she would release "#1 to Infinity", a compilation set containing 18 of her No. 1 singles on Billboard Hot 100 as well as one original song called "Infinity". The only new song was debuted back in April to positive reviews, while the album was scheduled to hit shelves on May 18.
Later in the same year, Mariah made her directorial debut with Christmas movie "A Christmas Melody", in which she also starred as one of the main characters. The movie was filmed in October and debuted on the Hallmark Channel on December 19. Also in the same month, Mariah announced that she would embark on a new tour called "The Sweet Sweet Fantasy" tour, which kicked off in March the following year. Her tour was filmed as a part of her docu-series "Mariah's World".
In January 2016, Mariah and Australian billionaire James Packer announced that they were engaged, but the couple called off their engagement in October as she thought that James was not mentally healthy.
December was a busy month for the songstress. Not only she starred on the musical drama "Empire" as a superstar singer, but she also participated at "VH1 Divas" benefit concert alongside Vanessa Williams, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Teyana Taylor. Mariah received worldwide's attention during her performance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest", where her performance was interrupted due to the malfunction of her in-ear monitors. Mariah's representatives and Dick Clark Productions placed blame on each other following the incident.
Mariah might be humiliated for the performance, but it didn't stop her from releasing new music. In February 2017, Mariah released a collaborative track with YG entitled "I Don't" before launching her own record label Butterfly MC Records in April. Later in July, the diva embarked on a joint tour called "All the Hits" tour with Lionel Richie.
Things got busier for the songstress that year as she released a soundtrack single "The Star" for the movie of the same name and produced her own animated Christmas movie titled "Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You" in October. She even recorded a soundtrack titled "Lil Snowman" for the movie, which was released on November 14. Her hard work for her movie was paid off when PETA presented her with the Angel for Animals Award, as the movie follows the story a young girl who adopts a homeless dog.
Also in November, Mariah resumed her "All I Want for Christmas Is You, a Night of Joy and Festivity" concert. The songstress was also scheduled to travel across Oceania in 2018 for her "The Number Ones" tour. Additionally, Mariah is set to co-executive produce alongside Brett Ratner a scripted drama about her life. The show will focus on her early rise to fame as a young teen in New York City.
Closing out the year, Mariah returned to perform on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve after the technical difficulties that hindered her previous performance. Fortunately for her, she managed to perform smoothly and even created a new meme from her set, where she asked for "hot tea" just before she started performing.
After opening up about her struggle with bipolar II disorder in April 2018, she signed a worldwide deal with Live Nation Entertainment in the following month. The first commitment out of the deal was her fourth Las Vegas residency, "The Butterfly Returns", which was launched in July to critical acclaim. She concluded the second leg of the residency in September.
In the same month, Mariah headlined the 2018 iHeart Radio Music Festival in addition to announcing her fifteenth studio album "Caution". The announcement was accompanied with the release of a track off the record titled "GTFO", before Mariah unearthed the effort's first single "With You" on October 4.
Shortly after the release of the lead single, the singer embarked on a Asia tour called "Number 1's Tour". The 12-date trek kicked off on October 16 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and concluded on November 9 in Bangkok, Thailand. Days after wrapping up the tour, Mariah unleashed her new album on November 16 to critical acclaim. It debuted at No. 5 on Billboard 200 chart with 51,000 equivalent album units.
In support of the album, Mariah will hit the road starting from February next year. Before that, she will travel to Europe for her "All I Want for Christmas Is You Tour", which will kick off on December 1 in Norway and wrap up on December 14 in Belgium.
Mariah was hit with controversies shortly after welcoming 2019, when she performed in Saudi Arabia despite being pressured to cancel her appearance. This was because of the murder of the journalist Jamal Khassogi, who wrote an article criticizing Saudi Arabia's crown prince, as well as the country's imprisonment of women's right activists.
However, Mariah defended her decision to perform in the country as mentioned in a statement, "Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation. … As the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah recognizes the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support global efforts towards equality for all."
The controversy soon died down, and Mariah continued her activities as usual. In February of that year, she embarked on a world tour in support of her album "Caution". Kicking off in Irving on February 27, the critically-acclaimed trek found Mariah performing 34 shows across North America and Europe. It ended on August 21 in Willemstand, Curacao. Shortly after ending her tour, she signed a $9 million contract with the Walkers crisps brand and released "In the Mix", the theme song for "Mixed-ish". It peaked at No. 9 at Billboard's R&B Digital Song Sales.
As the holiday season was fast approaching, Mariah re-released her holiday album "Merry Christmas" on November 1 for its 25th anniversary. Besides featuring songs from the original album, the effort also included live performances from her 1994 concert at St. John the Divine Church as well as several singles and remixes.
While hitting the road for her annual Christmas tour later that month, Mariah received three records in Guiness World Records for her iconic "All I Want for Christmas Is You". It won the best-selling and most recognizable Christmas song, most streamed song on Spotify in 24 hours and most weeks in the U.K. singles Top 10 chart for a Christmas song. She later announced that a mini-documentary based on the mega hit would be produced and broadcast on Amazon music.