Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. She made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States.
Following her separation from Mottola in 1997, Carey introduced elements of hip hop into her album work, to much initial success, but her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia in 2001, and she was dropped by Virgin Records the following year after a highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, as well as the poor reception given to Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. In 2002, Carey signed with Island Records, and after a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of pop music in 2005.
Carey was named the best-selling female pop artist of the millennium at the 2000 World Music Awards. She has the most number-one singles for a solo artist in the United States (eighteen; second artist overall behind The Beatles), where, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is one of the best-selling female artists and sixteenth overall recording artist. In addition to her commercial accomplishments, Carey has earned five Grammy Awards, and is well-known for her vocal range, power, melismatic style, and use of the whistle register. To date, Mariah Carey has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
Carey graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York. She was frequently absent because of her work as a demo singer for local recording studios; 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. Eventually, she became a backup singer for Puerto Rican freestyle singer Brenda K. Starr.
In 1988, Carey met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party, where Starr gave him Carey's demo tape. Mottola played the tape when leaving the party and was impressed. He returned to find Carey, but she had left. Nevertheless, Mottola tracked her down and signed her to a recording contract. This Cinderella-like story became part of the standard publicity surrounding Carey's entrance into the industry
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