Published January 14, 2015
Mariah Carey was born on March 27, 1970, in Huntington, Long Island, in New York.
She was born to parents Patricia Hickey, a voice coach and former opera singer of Irish descent, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer of African/Venezuelan descent, and has two older siblings.
Because the Careys were an interracial family, they often endured harassment and hostility. The racial slurs and occasional violence caused them to relocate throughout New York and Rhode Island. When Mariah was 3, the strain of the issue caused her parents to divorce.
After that, Mariah didn't have much contact with her father, and her mother worked several jobs in order to support the family.
Mariah turned to music as an outlet when she was alone, began singing at 3 and was writing her own songs by junior high.
She graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, N.Y., but was often absent due to her popularity as a demo singer for local recording studios. Consequently, her friends nicknamed her "Mirage."
Due to her local fame, Mariah had the chance to work with musicians such as Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies. Soon after, Mariah moved to New York City to pursue her career, working several part time jobs and taking beauty school courses. After a while, Mariah became a backup singer for Brenda K. Starr.
In 1988, Mariah met Tommy Mottola, Columbia Records executive and her future husband. Starr gave him Mariah's demo tape, and he was impressed. He ended up tracking her down, and signed her to a recording contract.
Her debut album entitled "Mariah Carey" was released in 1990. Mariah co-wrote all of the original material on the album, a task which she continues to do for almost all of her material to this day.
The album reached No. 1 on the charts, and produced four No. 1 singles. She won two Grammys that year, for "Best New Artist" and "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance."
Mariah released her second album, "Emotions," in 1991, but it wasn't as commercially successful as her debut. But the album marked the start of her co-producing most of her own material.
Early on, stage fright kept Mariah from performing live. But her first major televised performance was on "MTV Unplugged" in 1992, and the performance showed her ability to recreate her vocal skills outside of the studio. Many called the live recorded album her best performance yet.
In June 1993, Mariah and Mottola married. Later that year, Mariah released the album "Music Box," which became her most successful album worldwide.
In 1994, Mariah released "Merry Christmas," a holiday album, which produced "All I Want For Christmas Is You," Mariah's first No. 1 hit in Japan. The album became the most successful Christmas album of all time.
In 1995, Mariah released "Daydream," though Columbia apparently didn't approve of her vision for the album. The reviews for the album were Mariah's career-best, and several of the songs hit No. 1.
In 1996, Mariah and Mottola separated. She claimed that she had felt controlled by him, and their divorce became final in 1998. Soon afterward, Mariah hired a new lawyer and manager, and an independent publicist.
In 1997, Mariah released the album, "Butterfly," which yielded the number one single, "Honey," which many saw as a more overtly sexual picture of Mariah. Mariah stated that this album was the first time she was able to have full creative control over her work.
While that album was being produced, Mariah and Derek Jeter became involved, though they soon parted, claiming media interference as the cause.
In 1998, Mariah released an album of her No. 1s, including some new material. In 1999, she began seeing singer Luis Miguel. That same year, she released the album "Rainbow," which included more hip-hop and R&B sounds than the previous albums.
While critics had a generally positive reaction, and two songs reached No. 1, the album was Mariah's lowest selling LP. Also in 1999, Mariah made her film debut in "The Bachelor" with Chris O'Donnell, playing an opera singer.
In 2001, Mariah received Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award, as well as the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium. She then parted from Columbia Records and signed with Virgin Records for a reported $80 million.
In July 2001, it was reported that Mariah was suffering a physical and emotional breakdown. Her relationship with Miguel was ending, and a much publicized appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in which she did a striptease and handed out Popsicles to the audience further fueled the claim.
By the end of the month, Mariah had checked into a hospital, and her publicist announced that she would be taking a break from any public appearances.
That year, Mariah's semi-autobiographical film "Glitter" was released, and it was a box-office flop. The album "Glitter" was also unsuccessful, and the following "Greatest Hits" didn't fare much better.
In 2002, Virgin bought out Mariah's contract for $28 million. That same year, Mariah signed a $20 million contract with Island Records' Def Jam, and launched the record label MonarC. That summer, her father died of cancer.
Mariah then released the album "CharmBracelet," which she called "a new lease on life" for her. Sales were only moderate, and critics panned her vocals on the album.
Also in 2002, Mariah starred alongside Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters in the independent film, "Wisegirls."
In 2003, Mariah guest-starred on a Busta Rhymes single, "I Know What You Want," which made the top five on the charts.
In 2005, Mariah released "The Emancipation of Mimi," which became the year's best-selling album in the U.S. and gave her terrific reviews. The three No. 1 hits from the album -- including "We Belong Together," which was heralded as her comeback single -- brought Mariah's total count of U.S. No. 1 hits to 17, tying her with Elvis Presley for most No. 1 hits by a solo act.
"Shake It Off" was also on that CD and made Carey the only solo female artist to occupy the two top positions of the Hot 100's simultaneously.
In mid-2006, Mariah started "The Adventures of Mimi Tour," the most successful tour of her career, despite several concert date cancellations.
In 2007, Mariah received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, she appeared clothed on the cover of the March edition of Playboy magazine.
Mariah was set to appear on "American Idol" on April 16, 2008, to promote her new CD, "E=MC2," scheduled to hit stores on April 15.
1990: Mariah Carey
1992: MTV Unplugged
1993: Music Box
1994: Merry Christmas
2001: Greatest Hits
2003: The Remixes
2005: The Emancipation of Mimi
2008 Tennessee: Krystal
2005 State Property 2: Professionally Dressed Woman
2002 Wisegirls: Raychel
2001 Glitter: Billie Frank
1999 The Bachelor: Ilana