Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Referred to as the “Songbird Supreme” by Guinness World Records, she is noted for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register. She rose to fame in 1990 after signing to Columbia Records and releasing her eponymous debut album, which topped the U.S. Billboard 200 for eleven consecutive weeks. Carey became the only artist ever to have their first five singles reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, from “Vision of Love” to “Emotions”.
In 1993, Carey married Sony Music head Tommy Mottola, the man who signed her to Columbia. 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 later became Billboard’s Song Of The Decade (1990s). 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). 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 recording artist of the 1990s, and the best-selling female artist of the millennium.
After eleven consecutive years charting a U.S. 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 next year. After a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), which became the world’s second best-selling album of 2005. Its second single, “We Belong Together”, became the U.S. best-performing single of the 2000s. In 2009, she was cast in the critically acclaimed film Precious, which won her Breakthrough Actress Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Throughout her career, Carey has sold more than 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.