Birth: May 27, 1970 in Long Island, New York, United States
Ethnicity: African American
Occupation: Singer, Actor
Source: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 32. Edited by Ashyia Henderson. Gale Group, 2002.
Diva (de-vä), n., a distinguished female singer; prima donna.-Random House College Dictionary.
Eventually, when you look-up the word "diva" in the dictionary, a picture of Mariah Carey will appear as the visual reference. In spite of the subtle reference to another famous female singer in the definition, Carey has displayed each of the characteristics that commonly describe a diva. She was named the world's top selling female artist of the millennium. She married a multimillionaire record executive in a fairy-tale wedding. And she has taken the Beatles' throne as artist with the most weeks at number one on Billboards top 100 singles chart. By the summer of 2001, the talented, classically trained, and hardworking singer had come full circle and reached a breaking point, but quickly responded.
Carey was born March 27, 1970, in Long Island, New York, to Patricia Carey, who was a soloist with the New York City Opera, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. And since the tender age of four, she knew she wanted to sing. By the time she was 18, Carey had a tape ready for the moment opportunity would come knocking. A brief meeting with Sony executive Tommy Mottola, at a party was all she needed to begin her catapult to superstardom. Mottola told Ebony magazine that he knew right away that she had star potential. "When I first heard and saw Mariah, there was absolutely no doubt she was in every way destined for stardom," he said.
Carey burst onto the scene with the rich and soulful single "Vision of Love," in 1990. The first single from her first album Mariah Carey hit number one on the charts and began a distinguished precedent for the singer. Except for three albums, each of the first singles has hit number one on the charts for the artist. The incredible freshman effort lead Carey to become the third artist to ever be nominated in the same year for best album, best song and best new artist. This effort earned 22 weeks at Billboard's number one and moved more than seven million copies.
Carey's vision was responsible for four number one singles: "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," and "I Don't Wanna Cry." With the release of her second album, Emotions, in 1991, Carey produced a record breaking fifth consecutive number one single. The other releases from her sophomore release also proved to be hit singles that reached the Top five in the charts. The next album for Carey was a live effort, MTV Unplugged, and it also produced a number one song--a cover of the Jackson 5 Single "I'll be There."
In June of 1993, Carey wed Tommy Mottola at the historic St. Thomas Church in New York. The grand wedding sparked even more comparisons of Carey's success to a fairytale. Mottola, then 43, served as the prince who swept the young songstress off her feet. She also released Music Box in 1993, which sparked more chart topping success. This album produced the hit singles "Dreamlover" and "Hero." However, the tale was a little tarnished by the fact that Mottola divorced his wife of 20 years to be with Carey.
Also tarnishing Carey's dreams were reviews of her first tour that were less than glowing. She was still able to rebound from the bad reviews with Merry Christmas, her fourth album. Although this was one of the three albums that did not produce a number one hit, the single "All I Want for Christmas is You," was a bright moment. Carey also quickly rebounded with her next album Daydream in 1995. This time, Carey's first single, "Fantasy," debuted at number one. The single was a duet with embattled rap star, O.D.B. of the Wu Tang Clan. In spite of the strangeness of the combination, the two produced what was the beginning of Carey's hip-hop pop sound. Years later Variety magazine would attribute Carey's musical brillance to "her ability to stay ever-so-slightly ahead of the teen beat curve." This single represented one of the trends in fusing the ever-growing popularity of hip-hop and rap with the pop music sound--a practice that is standard in today's music.
She also scored another hit from Daydream with a collaboration song that paired the singer with Boys II Men. The song saw a good measure of success and remained at the top of the charts for four months. Despite the continuing success musically, Carey's personal life was becoming troubled. She separated from husband Mottola in 1997 and was finally divorced in 1998. She spent the time immersing herself in what she called the music of her youth. Though best known for her pop sound, her next effort Butterfly was the most hip-hop laden of her releases. Carey was still topping the charts but critics questioned her leanings towards hip-hop and R&B. Carey told Newsweek International that critics "don't understand that I'm someone who grew up with this music. It's exciting to be able to work with [today's leading [h]ip [h]op artists.]" To mark the many years of number one singles and success with music, Carey's next album was a compilation of her first 13 number one hits. It also highlighted a few duets. Notable "Whenever You Call," with Brian McKnight and "When You Believe," a duet with Whitney Houston. The Carey and Houston collaboration represented the coming together of two of the most powerful female recording artists of the 1990s. The song was also featured on the Prince of Egypt soundtrack. What was also exceptional but rarely mentioned is that Carey had co-written all of her No.1 songs with the exception of the Jackson 5 cover. She was also the coproducer of all the singles that where chart topping hits.
With so much record breaking successes under her belt and an album of greatest hits that included 13 number one singles, it seemed that Carey had accomplished all that any one person could in music, but 1999 proved to be a very good year for the star as well. She released her eighth album Rainbow and became the first artist to have hit songs at the top of the charts for each year in the 1990s with the single "Heartbreaker." Carey's monumental success also helped her dethrone the Beatles that year to become the artists with the most weeks on top of Billboards Hot 100 singles list.
By 2000, Carey began to spread her wings into the acting field as well. She finished a small part in the Renée Zellweger film, The Bachelor, and began looking for other acting roles to broaden her already full horizon of talent. In addition to pumping out hit records and a film, Carey had launched another singing tour and was working on the premise behind the semi-autobiographical film Glitter which would be her first starring role.
The new millennium was looking bright for the artist after being honored as the best-selling female artist of the millennium at the 12th annual World Music Awards. She also began the filming of Glitter as well as the movie Wise Girls with Mira Sorvino. Carey was on her way to becoming the world's highest-paid recording artist with a five-year, $100 million deal with Virgin records.
But Carey's nonstop hit making schedule would catch up with the diva by mid 2001. In addition to the music news, Carey had been making the headlines with bizarre behavior in the early months of the year. She performed an impromptu striptease that revealed a tank top and short shorts on MTV's Total Request Live and stories of minor arguments on the set of Wise Girls were making their way into headlines. The walls almost came tumbling down in late July when Carey was hospitalized for extreme exhaustion. She had always described herself as hard working with need for little sleep. According to her publicist, Cindi Berger, the fast pace caught up with the star.
A Time article quoted Berger saying that Carey had "an emotional and physical breakdown." The star ultimately took time off of her busy schedule for recuperation at a hospital in Connecticut and later in the year at another hospital in Los Angeles. Carey's Glitter landed with a thud in theaters and "Loverboy," the first single from her Glitter soundtrack topped at number two. Although the road looked a little rough for the star, Carey is still many steps ahead of her competition. The artist is so dedicated to her craft and fans that she regularly leaves voice messages of thanks and news of upcoming performances at her website, MariahCarey.com. She entered the new millennium with more then 140 million albums and singles sold and in spite of the drawback from the Glitter film, she was scheduled to appear in an episode of the hit courtroom drama Ally McBeal. Carey rounded out 2001 in a good place. Her career has been laden with so many successes that a chart topping first single that makes it only to the second spot is considered a failure. Though many a star could not rebound from setbacks, Mariah Carey has proven that she can withstand all that comes her way.
August 2003: Carey performed on two consecutive evenings at the Universal Amphitheater in Southern California. Source: Yahoo! News, story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story=769=768=9=/nm/20030825/music_nm/music_carey_dc, August 28, 2003.
Born on May 27, 1970, in Long Island, New York; daughter of Patricia Carey, (a former soloist with the New York City Opera) and Alfred Roy Carey, (a former aeronautical engineer); married Tommy Mottola (divorced). Addresses: Record company--Virgin Records, 338 N. Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, California, 90210, (310) 278-1181, fax (310) 278-6231. Publicist--PMK Public Relations, (212) 582-1111.
Grammy, Best New Artist, 1990, Best Female Vocalist, 1990; named Best-Selling Female Artist of Millennium, World Music Awards, 2000.
Singer, actress. First single "Vision of Love," reached number one; first album Mariah Carey, 1990; Emotions, 1991, MTV's Unplugged, 1992; Music Box, 1993, and each also produced first singles that reached No 1; released Merry Christmas, 1994; Daydream, 1995, Butterfly, 1997; released compilation of hits, # 1's; Rainbow, 1999; Glitter, 2001. Films: The Bachelor, 2000; Glitter, 2001; Wise Girls, 2002.