The best-selling female performer of the 1990s,Mariah Careyrose to superstardom onthe strength of her stunning five-octave voice; an elastic talent who moved easily fromglossy ballads to hip-hop-inspired dance-pop, she earned frequent comparison to rivalsWhitney HoustonandCeline Dion, but did them both one better by composing all of her own material. Born in Long Island, NY, on March 27, 1970,Careymoved to New York City at the age of 17 -- just one day after graduating high school -- to pursue a musiccareer; there she befriended keyboardistBen Margulies, with whom she began writingsongs. Her big break came as a backing vocalist on a studio session with dance-popsinger Brenda K. Starr , who handedCarey's demo tape to Columbia Records headTommy Mottolaat a party. According to legend,Mottolalistened to the tape in his limowhile driving home that same evening, and was so immediately struck byCarey's talentthat he doubled back to the party to track her down.After signing to Columbia,Careyentered the studio to begin work on her 1990 self-titleddebut LP; the heavily promoted album was a chart-topping smash, launching no less thanfour number one singles: "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," and "I Don'tWanna Cry." Her overnight success earned Grammy awards as Best New Artist and BestFemale Vocalist, and expectations were high for Carey's follow-up, 1991'sEmotions.Thealbum did not disappoint, as the title track reached number one -- a record fifthconsecutive chart-topper -- while both "Can't Let Go" and "Make It Happen" landed inthe Top Five.Carey's next release was 1992's MTV Unplugged EP, which generated anumber one cover of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There." Featured on the track was backupsinger Trey Lorenz, whose appearance immediately helped him land a recording contractof his own.In June 1993,CareywedMottola-- some two decades her senior -- in a headline-grabbing ceremony; months later she released her third full-length effort,Music Box, her best-selling record to date. Two more singles, "Dreamlover" and "Hero," reached the topspot on the charts.Carey's first tour followed and was widely panned by critics;undaunted, she resurfaced in 1994 with a holiday release titledMerry Christmas, scoringa seasonal smash with "All I Want for Christmas Is You." 1995'sDaydreamreflected anew artistic maturity; the first single, "Fantasy," debuted at number one, makingCareythe first female artist and just the second performer ever to accomplish the feat. Thefollow-up, "One Sweet Day" -- a collaboration with Boyz II Men -- repeated the trick,and remained lodged at the top of the charts for a record 16 weeks.After separating fromMottola,Careyreturned in 1997 withButterfly, another staggeringsuccess and her most hip-hop-flavored recording to date. #1's -- a collection featuring her 13 previous chart-topping singles as well as "The Prince of Egypt (When You Believe),"a duet withWhitney Houstoneffectively pairing the two most successful femalerecording artists in pop history -- followed late the next year. With "Heartbreaker," thefirst single from her 1999 albumRainbow,Careybecame the first artist to top the chartsin each year of the 1990s; the record also pushed her ahead of the Beatles as the artistwith the most cumulative weeks spent atop the Hot 100 singles chart.
However, the early 2000s weren't as kind toCarey. After signing an 80-million-dollar deal in 2001 with Virgin -- the biggest record contract ever -- she experienced a very public personal and professional meltdown that included rambling; suicidal messages onher website; an appearance on TRL where, clad only in a T-shirt, she handed outPopsicles to the audience; and last but not least, the poorly received movie Glitter and itsattendant soundtrack (which was also her Virgin Records debut). Both the film and thealbum did poorly critically as well as commercially, with Glitter making just under four million dollars in its total U.S. gross and the soundtrack struggling to make gold sales.Following these setbacks, Virgin andCareyparted ways early in 2002, with the label paying her 28 million dollars. That spring, she found a new home with Island/Def Jam,where she set up her own label, MonarC Music. In December, she released her ninthalbum,Charmbracelet, which failed to become a success. Although she took nearly threeyears for a follow-up,Careyfound a hit with 2005's chart-topping The Emancipation of Mimi, her most successful record in years. Released by Island Records, the albumclimbed to multi-platinum status and earnedCareya Grammy Award, thus restoring her status as a megastar in the R&B arena. Two weeks before the release of her subsequentalbum, E=MC²,Careyscored her eighteenth number-one hit with "Touch My Body", afeat that pushed her into second place (past Elvis, no less) amongst all aritsts with themost chart-topping singles. The well-timed accomplished also increased the public'sappetite for E=MC², which arrived in April 2008. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide