Mariah Angela Carey born on 27th March, the year Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, had a horrible childhood. Born to an Afro-Venezuelan father and a white Irish mother,she was subjected to racism from her maternal relatives from the day she was born.
Being completely ignored by her maternal relatives with her white mother disowned by her parents for marrying a black man, Carey would be Mariah’s last name taken from her paternal grandfather.
Many a times Mariah Carey was racially abused as a kid in her school by her own teachers and classmates.With a specific incident on a school bus where a white student spit on Mariah after looking at the color of her skin.
This incident left a deep scar in Mariah’s heart which would be enacted in Mariah’s upcoming movie The Butler and would later be confirmed by Mariah Carey herself in an interview with Oprah…
Oprah Winfrey: “Where somebody spit on you?”
Mariah Carey: “Yeah. In the face and in the same way.”
Mariah Carey’s mother Patricia would eventually divorce her aeronautical engineer husband Alfred Roy because the 1960s New York suburb won’t treat a black man with respect or dignity but would rather get rid of him because of his color.
Many a times their (Mariah’s dad) car was blown apart with a dynamite, Mariah Carey’s pet dogs were poisoned to death and a sniper fired a round into the house during family dinner.
Mariah Carey and her brother would live with their mother. While Allison, Mariah’s elder sister would move with her father Alfred Roy.
Carey excelled in all the subjects that she liked at school including literature,music and arts but science and maths were a different planet for her.Her mother Patricia was clever enough to figure this out and got her a special trainer for classical opera.
With no help from her relatives, Mariah Carey’s mother a professional mezzo-soprano operatic singer who also took opera classes to aspiring singers struggled to help her daughter finish high school but eventually saved enough money to buy her own house in one of New York’s affluent suburbs.
Right from her child hood Carey’s passion for music and singing was greater than any barbie doll or pets that a girl of her age would crave for.She used to sing in her bed hours after been put to sleep just to take away the painful memories of her childhood and a long gone father.
All through her high school she wrote songs with her classmates Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies with the hope of forming their own band with a major record label.
Carey who studied Beauty and Cosmetology in a well known New York college had to work night shifts many a times as a waitress to pay for her apartment and composed songs with her unofficial band members to create that perfect demo tape to be sent to major record labels.
But every major record label in the big apple rejected her demo tape and to add insult to injury, Mariah Carey was fired from most restaurants in the New York city after only a week’s work which left her with little money left to pay for her rent.
The only good thing that happened to Mariah during this time was her blossoming friendship with Brenda K Starr for whom Carey was the back-up singer.With Brenda Starr’s recommendation, Mariah Carey’s demo tapes ended in the hands of a top executive of Columbia Records, Tommy Mottola instead of New York’s junkyard if handed over to
a mid or low level employee of Columbia Records.
It was during an official event for the musicians and record executives that Mariah handed over the demo tapes to Tommy Mottola and Brenda K Starr insisted that he listen to them right away and so he did while driving back from the event to his home.
While listening to the demo,Tommy Mottola swirled, turned back his car to the event to get hold of and sign up Mariah Carey on the spot but she had left already.He searched for Mariah for two weeks like the prince searched for Cinderella and finally found her, thanks to Brenda K Starr.
Carey’s self titled album released early 1990 won her two Grammy awards including Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Performance for her very first single “Vision of Love”.
This was around the same time when two other female musicians namely Madonna and Whitney Houston were rocking the charts especially Madonna with her True Blue album.
And for a new comer like Mariah Carey to have her debut album open at the No.1 spot in the Billboard Hot 100 Albums with 4 songs peaking at the No.1 spot for Billboard Hot 100 Singles is no joke.
Apart from “Vision of Love” her other songs “I Don’t Wanna Cry” , “Someday” and “Love Takes Time” all reached the pinnacle in the Billboard Hot 100 US Singles chart.
Much of the credit goes to Sony and Columbia Records for spending more than $1.5 million to promote the album, to compete with Sire Records’ Madonna.Little does anyone know that Patti LaBelle was the greatest source of inspiration for Mariah Carey in becoming the R&B legend that she is now.
Tommy Mottola not only searched for Mariah Carey to sign up for Sony Records but also to marry her for life.And he did confess that he was moved to tears while listening to Carey on that eventful day at the Record Executives gala.
And so he did in 1993 after the release of Mariah’s second album Emotions released in early 1991.Apart from the title track Emotions, none of the other songs achieved the success of her debut album Mariah Carey.
Many of her critics called Emotions a boring and vapid album, while many others called her a studio worm who would never tour which unfortunately was the truth as Mariah Carey herself admitted that she was afraid of touring the world fearing a nervous breakdown, which did happen ten years later.
With Emotions bombing at the charts, Mariah gathered herself and started working on her third album Music Box which would eventually become one of the best selling albums of all time by any artist.
Released mid 1993, “Hero” the second song from Music Box would become Mariah Carey’s signature song.The song was originally slated for Gloria Estefan and rejected by Mariah Carey because of it’s music and a lack of R&B material but Mariah did agree to help with songwriting for the OST of the movie with the same titled Hero starring Dusting Hoffman released early 1993.
On hearing the news, Tommy Mottola CEO of Sony Music and Columbia Records rushed to the studio to meet his then fiance Mariah Carey, to convince her to take up the “Hero” project and not pass it on to somebody else.
After much persuasion Mariah did take up the “Hero” project but on one condition that she would alter the lyrics and the music to add her own personal touch.The music video for the song was Mariah’s live performance at the Jay Leno’s studio for The Tonight Show.
“Hero” topped the charts in most English speaking countries including USA, U.K, Ireland, Canada, Australia and most of the Europe.Unfortunately, the song opened a pandora’s box of law suits spanning over eight years and brought more stress to Carey than fame and honor.
In 1993, songwriter and poet Christopher Selletti a close associate of Sly Stone, confidant of Mariah Carey filed a law suit against Sly Stone, Mariah Carey and Sony Music for stealing his lyrics and using it in Carey’s record breaking single “Hero”.
Christopher Selletti claimed that he showed his poem to Sly Stone who promised Selletti to get it patented and copyrighted under his name.But Stone intentionally broke off his friendship with Selletti after obtaining his poem.
Since Sly Stone did not get any mention or royalties in the making of the video and audio for “Hero”, Christopher Selletti had no choice but to drop him from his law suit and went out all blazing at Mariah and Sony Music.
The first law suit was ruled out in favor of Mariah Carey when she showed enough evidence, her lyrical pad with dates which showed the songs were written several weeks after the release of the movie with the same name “Hero”.
The judge not only dismissed the case citing lack of concrete evidence but ordered Christopher Selletti to pay a hefty fine to Mariah Carey for defaming her. A disgruntled Christopher Selletti vowed to fight back and bring to justice Mariah Carey and Sony Music for plagiarism.
So he did when he filed his second law suit in 1995 with more compelling evidence on the release of the Movie and its OST “Hero” and proved to the judge that the song was written months before the movie’s release date.
Mariah Carey provided counter evidence with more in-studio recordings and conversations thereby providing the exact dates for the release of the movie and the song “Hero”
The judge after examining evidence from both the parties dismissed the case in favor of Mariah Carey. An enraged Selletti stormed out of the court room in fury.
A few years later Selletti sought permission of the court to do an in-depth forensic analysis of Mariah’s recording studio where the recording for the song “Hero” took place.
And he did file a law suit mid 2001, only this time the judge called the law suit a fabrication of evidence to extort money from the rich and the famous.
Even though “Hero” has saved many lives with thousands writing letters to Mariah Carey on how this song provided them with the inspiration on the power of self belief. Mariah had to go through troubled waters from the day the song was released till the final law suit which was dismissed in 2001.
Just when her critics thought that Mariah Carey had peaked out with “Hero”, her next two albums would make her stand alone at the top with the Best Christmas album ever and the longest running single in the Billboard Hot 100 history by any artist.
The 90s truly belonged to two artists, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.No other artist had sold more than 150 million albums in the 90s but these two.Since 1994, when Mariah released her Christmas album All I Want for Christmas Is You, Christmas has been incomplete , if this track is not played.
Such was the intensity and the holiday flavor “All I Want for Christmas Is You” brings out, that many critics have called this song ‘the essence of Christmas’. Even Mariah Carey’s worst critics who called her a studio worm incapable of a world tour, were full of praise and sugar coated reviews for this number.
Even before the echoes of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” faded out Mariah Carey released her fourth album Daydream which would eventually become her best selling album ever with more than 25 million albums in US alone.
Daydream‘s second single “One Sweet Day” co-produced with Boyz II Men, made all the other releases in 1995 look like a speck in the sky.Such was the success of “One Sweet Day” that it become the best selling English song in Japan, ever.
It debuted at the No.1 spot in Billboard U.S , U.K, Canada, Germany and most of the Europe.The song was infact a tribute to Mariah Carey’s sister who died early 1995 due to HIV infection.
Japanese went crazy over this number and when Carey toured Japan late 1995, most of the tickets were sold-out in less than two hours on sale.The song was certified multi-platinum and was chosen the Best Song of the 90s decade by many magazines and television networks.
Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey also became the first and only artists to be nominated for six Grammy awards for Daydream but won nothing.It sent shock waves all over the world for Mariah Carey fans.
Carey later told an interview that there will be no shock in her life that would demoralize her ever, than not winning a single Grammy for Daydream.It was around this time there was a noticeable friction between Mariah Carey and her CEO husband Tommy Mottala.
When her fifth album Butterfly was released early 1998, Carey had transformed herself from a shy R&B singer to a sexy ballerina.The album had many hit singles including “Honey”, where Mariah was seen in her minimal clothing ever.
As soon as the music video for “Honey” was released Mariah Carey divorced Tommy Mottola citing lack of freedom. With one specific strange accusation against Mottola, that he had requested her to be a vegetarian as long as she was married to him and so she was for 6 long years.
Nevertheless, Carey’s personality and singing style changed as soon as she got separated from Mottola, when she adopted more of a ‘çhic look’ rather than a matured singer like her godmother Patti LaBelle.
“Honey” reached the No.1 spot not only in USA but in Japan as well where it sold more than 1.3 million copies, once again establishing Mariah Carey as the most popular non Japanese singer, to gain fame and honor in the land of the rising sun.
As the millennium was coming to an end and Carey being the most popular artist of the last decade of the millennium, Sony Records requested Mariah Carey to release a best hits compilation, to which Carey added a duet with Whitney Houston “When You Believe” OST for the movie The Prince of Egypt released in the spring of 1998.
Mariah Carey – #1s released in 1998 sold like hot cakes in Japan with more than a million albums sold in just under a week and Tokyo was filled with Mariah Carey’s billboards and posters as if it were Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Infact 3.5 million copies of Mariah Carey – #1s was sold within a month in Japan alone adding to it another 17 million in sales from the U.S. But ever since her separation from Tommy Mottala her relationship with her ex-husband controlled Sony Music was under great friction.
Especially with Sony Music trying to extract as much as they can from Mariah Carey during the final months of her contract with them.Under great strain did Mariah Carey come with her seventh album Rainbow, a collaboration with Snoop Dog, Jay Z, 98 Degrees and many other top names of the late 90s music scene.
“Heartbreaker” was the only single to reach the top spot in the Billboard Hot 100 charts although “Thank God I Found You” reached the top 10 rankings.Just when her critics were ripping her apart for the fiasco with Sony Music, Tommy Mottola and the performance of Rainbow. Mariah Carey was awarded the Artist of the Decade by Billboard and Artist of the Millennium by World Music Awards.
Carey began the new millennium on a high note by signing a $100 million deal with EMI Records and started dating Latino singer Luis Miguel at the same time. While working on the first of the five albums Carey suffered a severe nervous breakdown with signs of erratic behavior that spilled on to MTV’s live show.
Around May 2001, Carey began writing erratic things on her website most of them related to bad things that happened in her life.And many of her critics started questioning her sanity.
She later revealed that she had a nervous breakdown working 22 hours a day including weekends which eventually led to this strange situation.And immediately nullified her project with EMI Records using a bailout money worth $50 million.
This was when most of hers fans realized that Carey was not the young energetic girl she was in the 90s as the quality of her music decreased a lot.Although she released Glitter before her breakdown, the album was a commercial fiasco and Carey set her eyes on the movie industry after a year long break.
Without much success in the only role she played as a waitress in a mob controlled restaurant for the 2002 movie Wisegirls and with no further movie openings, she went back to the music industry and started her own record label Monarc just like she started Crave Records in 1997.
Then came her ninth album Charmbracelet, December 2002, the moment all her critics were waiting for, if Glitter was a fiasco Charmbracelet was a complete annihilation and humiliation of Mariah Carey.
When every other artist was cashing in with the introduction of the itunes music store and Napster for free music downloads,Carey reached the lowest point of her musical career and became a laughing stock for all those who hated her as Charmbracelet sales were so bad that only a few thousand were sold all over the world.
Many of her fans were shocked with the quality of the album and were in utter disbelief when they compared Mariah Carey – #1s with Glitter and Charmbracelet.
An embarrassed Mariah Carey wanted to make amends for Glitter and Charmbracelet, embarked on an eight month world tour with almost seventy shows.She had 20 shows in Asia alone, one of the highest by a non Asian singer.Most of her Asian live performance which happened in late 2003 were filled to the brim with shows in Beijing and Manila alone attracting more than 150,000 fans.
She had more than 30 Broadway style live performance in the US, with a limited number of audience coupled with a higher ticket price, to make them feel close and intimate to Carey herself.
Having toured the globe for the most of 2003 and 2004, Mariah Carey rediscovered herself with the release of her tenth album The Emancipation of Mimi. The album debuted at the No.1 spot in the Billboard charts and sold more than 15 million copies all over the globe, thanks to the newly launched itunes music store.
Singles from the album “It’s Like That”, “We Belong Together” reached the pinnacle of charts not only in the States but also in Japan,Australia,New Zealand, Ireland and Germany.
Mariah met her soul mate Nick Cannon who is 10 years younger than her at the 2005 Teen Choice Music Awards.The positive chemistry between them was visible on the stage itself but in 2008 general public were shocked when Mariah announced that she had legally married Nick Cannon to be her husband.
Many critics were lambasting Carey for marrying someone who is 10 years younger than her but as time went by both her fans as well as his hubby’s came to terms with their marriage.
In 2011 Carey gave birth to twins, daughter Monroe and son Moroccan Scott, she later revealed in an interview that she went through unimaginable pain during her pregnancy with twins but her hubby Cannon was never by her side.
She also questioned Cannon’s loyalty to her and accused him of infidelity.In December 2014 Cannon filed his divorce papers against Carey, the same time when a former nanny taking care of Mariah’s twins filed a law suit against her claiming thousands of dollars.
Nanny alleged that Carey never took care of her twins, never bathed or fed them not even changing their diapers.But when she took extra care of the twins,Mariah got jealous and fired her for showing unconditional love to her twins.
Mariah has never been far from controversy and being a judge at the American Idol along with Nicki Minaj was the worse thing that happened to her in 2013.
Carey who was paid $18 million for the first season of the American Idol show told the press that the producers never said a word about Nicki Minaj being one of the judges and added this “everyday it was like working in hell with Satan.”
As the feud between these two got worse Mariah Carey increased her security after she alleged that Nicki Minaj threatened to kill her when she quipped that Minaj did not have, not even one single at the top of Billboard charts.
Both the celebrities quit the show at the end of the first season.She’s been spending more time with her twins of late and in April 2015 she signed a multi-million dollar contract with Epic Records, a sister concern of Sony Music.
Mariah Carey is also planning to move over to Las Vegas in 2016, to perform at the The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, the same venue were Celine Dion raked in more than $800 million dollars in ticket sales.