Photo: Loco Steve (https://www.flickr.com/photos/locosteve/)
Born: March 27, 1970
Age: 49 years
Born Place: Huntington, New York, United States
- record producer
- television judge
Spouse(s): Tommy Mottola (m. 1993; div. 1998) ||| Nick Cannon (m. 2008; div. 2016)
Net Worth: U.S. $300–$520 million
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She was signed to Columbia Records in 1988 and rose to fame after releasing her eponymous debut album two years later. Carey is the first artist in history to have their first five singles become consecutive number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 (from “Vision of Love” to “Emotions”). Renowned for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register, Carey is referred to as the “Songbird Supreme” by Guinness World Records.
In 1993, Carey married Sony Music head Tommy Mottola. She achieved worldwide success with follow-up albums Music Box (1993), Merry Christmas (1994), and Daydream (1995). These albums spawned some of Carey’s most successful singles, including “Hero”, “Without You”, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, “Fantasy”, “Always Be My Baby”, as well as “One Sweet Day”, which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks and became Billboard’s Song of the Decade (1990s Decade). After separating from Mottola, Carey adopted a new image and incorporated more elements of hip hop into her music with the release of Butterfly (1997) and Rainbow (1999). Billboard named her the country’s most successful artist of the 1990s, while the World Music Awards honored her as the world’s best-selling music artist of the 1990s, and the best-selling female artist of the millennium.
After eleven consecutive years charting a US number-one single, Carey parted ways with Columbia in 2000 and signed a $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records. However, following her highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, as well as the critical and commercial failure of her film Glitter (2001) and its accompanying soundtrack, her contract was bought out for $50 million by Virgin and she signed with Island Records the following year. After a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), the world’s second-best-selling album of 2005. Its second single, “We Belong Together”, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks and became Billboard’s Song of the Decade. In 2009, she was cast in the critically acclaimed film Precious, which won her the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Throughout her career, Carey has sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. With a total of 19 songs topping the Billboard Hot 100, Carey holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist, a female songwriter, and a female producer. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the second-highest-certified female artist in the United States, with 66.5 million certified album units. In 2012, she was ranked second on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music. In 2019, Billboard named her the all-time top female artist in the United States, based on both album and song chart performances. Aside from her commercial accomplishments, Carey has won five Grammy Awards, nineteen World Music Awards, ten American Music Awards, and fifteen Billboard Music Awards. An inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, she is noted for inspiring other artists in pop and contemporary R&B music.
Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, New York, on March 27, 1969 or 1970. Her name was derived from the song “They Call the Wind Maria,” originally from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon. She is the third and youngest child of Patricia (née Hickey), a former opera singer and vocal coach of Irish descent, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer of African-American and Afro-Venezuelan lineage. The last name Carey was adopted by her Venezuelan grandfather, Francisco Núñez, after he emigrated to New York. Patricia’s family disowned her for marrying a black man. Racial tensions prevented the Carey family from integrating into their community. While living in Huntington, neighbors poisoned the family dog and set fire to their car. After her parents’ divorce, Carey 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 began singing at the age of three, often imitating her mother’s take on Verdi’s opera Rigoletto in Italian. While her elder sister Alison moved in with their father, the singer and her older brother Morgan remained with their mother.
During her years in elementary school, she excelled in the arts, such as music and literature. Carey began writing poetry and lyrics while attending Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, where she graduated in 1987. Carey began vocal training under the tutelage of her mother. Though a classically trained opera singer, Patricia never pressured her daughter to pursue a career in classical opera. Carey recalled that she had “never been a pushy mom. She never said, ‘Give it more of an operatic feel.’ I respect opera like crazy, but it didn’t influence me.” In high-school, she was frequently absent because of her work as a demo singer; her classmates consequently gave her the nickname Mirage. Her work in the Long Island music scene gave her opportunities to work with musicians such as Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies, with whom she co-wrote material for her demo tape. After moving to New York City, Carey worked part-time jobs to pay the rent, and she completed 500 hours of beauty school. Carey moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, which she shared with four other female students. She landed a gig singing backup for Puerto Rican freestyle singer Brenda K. Starr.
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.” The Elizabeth Arden deal has netted her $150 million. On November 29, 2010, she debuted a collection on HSN, which included jewelry, shoes and fragrances.
Carey is a philanthropist who has been involved with several charitable organizations. She became associated with the Fresh Air 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. Carey has continued her direct involvement with Camp Mariah, and by 2019 the executive director of The Fresh Air Fund reported that “…the kids who have gone to Camp Mariah have higher graduation rates out of high school and college.
Carey also donated royalties from her hits “Hero” and “One Sweet Day” to charities. 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 Police Athletic League of New York City 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. 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. Carey is also a supporter and advocate for the LGBT community, and was honored with the “Ally Award” at the 27th GLAAD Media Awards in May 2016. The award is presented to media figures who have “consistently used their platform to support and advance LGBT equality and acceptance”. In December 2017, PETA rewarded Carey with the ‘Angel for Animal’s Award’ for “encouraging families to adopt from their local shelter” in her animated Christmas film, titled Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.
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. 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.
In 2008, Carey performed in a New Year’s Eve concert for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, something she later claimed to “feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in.” In March 2011, Carey’s representative Cindi Berger stated that royalties for the song “Save The Day”, which was written for her fourteenth studio album, would be donated to charities that create awareness to human rights issues to make amends for the Gadaffi error. Berger also said that “Mariah has and continues to donate her time, money and countless hours of personal service to many organizations both here and abroad.” “Save The Day” was never released.
In 2013, human rights activists criticized Carey for performing in a concert for Angola’s “father-daughter kleptocracy” and accused her of accepting “dictator cash.”
In January 2019, Carey controversially performed in Saudi Arabia. In the United Kingdom, Owen Jones of The Guardian found her agreement to perform there questionable as “Carey has famously always had a devoted gay fanbase: in Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by death.” Prior to this, Carey was under pressure to cancel this performance not only because of the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but also because of the country’s imprisonment of feminists. In a statement to the Associated Press, Carey’s publicist stated that when “presented with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in Saudi Arabia, 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.”
Carey began dating Tommy Mottola while recording Music Box, and married him on June 5, 1993. After the release of Daydream and the success that followed, Carey began focusing on her personal life, which was a constant struggle at the time. Carey’s relationship with Mottola began to deteriorate, due to their growing creative differences in terms of her albums, as well as his controlling nature. On May 30, 1997, the couple announced their separation, with their divorce finalized by the time Mottola remarried on December 2, 2000. Carey was in a three-year relationship with singer Luis Miguel from 1998 to 2001.
Carey met actor and comedian Nick Cannon while they shot her music video for her song “Bye Bye” on an island off the coast of Antigua. On April 30, 2008, Carey married Cannon in The Bahamas. At 35 weeks into her pregnancy, she gave birth to their fraternal twins, Moroccan and Monroe, on April 30, 2011 via Cesarean section. Monroe is named after Marilyn Monroe; Moroccan is named after the Moroccan-decor room in Carey’s apartment where Cannon proposed to her. In August 2014, Cannon confirmed he and Carey had separated. He filed for divorce on December 12, 2014. It was finalized in 2016.
In 2015 Carey began dating Australian billionaire James Packer and, on January 21, 2016, she announced that they were engaged. By October, however, they had ended their engagement. In October 2016 she began dating American choreographer Bryan Tanaka.
Carey is an active Episcopalian. She stated in 2006: “I do believe that I have been born again in a lot of ways. I think what I’ve changed are my priorities and my relationships with God. I feel the difference when I don’t have my private moments to pray. … I’m a fighter, but I learned that I’m not in charge. Whatever God wants to happen is what’s going to happen. I feel like I’ve had endless second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances. It’s by the grace of God I’m still here.” In April 2018, Carey opened up about her struggle with bipolar II disorder. She, self-reportedly, was diagnosed in 2001, but kept the diagnosis private. Recently, she has sought out treatment in the form of medication and therapy.
- Mariah Carey (1990)
- Emotions (1991)
- Music Box (1993)
- Merry Christmas (1994)
- Daydream (1995)
- Butterfly (1997)
- Rainbow (1999)
- Glitter (2001)
- Charmbracelet (2002)
- The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)
- E=MC² (2008)
- Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009)
- Merry Christmas II You (2010)
- Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse (2014)
- Caution (2018)
- The Bachelor (1999)
- Glitter (2001)
- WiseGirls (2002)
- Death of a Dynasty (2003)
- State Property 2 (2005)
- Tennessee (2008)
- You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)
- Precious (2009)
- The Butler (2013)
- A Christmas Melody (2015)
- Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
- The Keys of Christmas (2016)
- The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
- Girls Trip (2017)
- The Star (2017)
- All I Want for Christmas Is You (2017)