Mariah Carey was born March 27, 1970, in Long Island, New York, to Patricia Carey, who was a soloist with the New York City Opera, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. Since the tender age of four, she knew she wanted to sing. By the time she was 18, Carey had a tape ready for the moment that opportunity came knocking. A brief meeting with Sony executive Tommy Mottola at a party was the catalyst to her successful career. Mottola told Ebony magazine that he knew right away that she had star potential. “When I first heard and saw Mariah, there was absolutely no doubt she was in every way destined for stardom,” he said.
Carey burst onto the scene with the rich and soulful single “Vision of Love” in 1990. The first single from her first album Mariah Carey hit number one on the charts. The incredible freshman effort led Carey to become the third artist to be nominated in the same year for best album, best song, and best new artist. Mariah Carey earned 22 weeks at Billboard’s Number One, sold more than seven million copies, and was responsible for four number one singles - “Vision of Love”, “Love Takes Time”, “Someday”, and “I Don’t Wanna Cry”.
On her second album, Emotions, in 1991, Carey produced a record-breaking fifth consecutive Number-One single with the album’s title track. Two other songs from her sophomore release reached the Top Five on the charts. The next album for Carey was a live effort, MTV Unplugged, and it also produced a number one song - a cover of the Jackson 5 single “I’ll Be There”.
In June of 1993, Carey wed Tommy Mottola at the historic St. Thomas Church in New York. The grand wedding sparked even more comparisons of Carey’s success to a fairytale. Mottola, then 43, served as the prince who swept the young songstress off her feet. She also released Music Box in 1993, which sparked more chart-topping success. This album produced the hit singles “Dreamlover” and “Hero”.
While Carey suffered poor critical reviews of her first tour, the bad reviews did not deter her. She released Merry Christmas in 1994. Although this was one of the three albums that did not produce a Number One hit, the single “All I Want for Christmas is You”, was a bright moment.
In 1995 Carey released Daydream, and its lead single, “Fantasy”, debuted at Number One. The single was a duet with embattled rap star, O.D.B. of the Wu Tang Clan. In spite of the strangeness of the combination, the two produced what was the beginning of Carey’s hip-hop pop sound. Years later Variety magazine would attribute Carey’s musical brilliance to “her ability to stay ever-so-slightly ahead of the teen beat curve”. This single represented one of the trends in fusing the ever-growing popularity of hip-hop and rap with the pop music sound - a practice that has become standard in the music industry. She also scored another hit from Daydream with “One Sweet Day”, a collaboration song that paired the singer with Boys II Men. The song saw a good measure of success and remained at the top of the charts for four months.
Carey became the first artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s; the record also pushed her ahead of the Beatles as the artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop the Hot 100 singles chart. However, the early 2000s weren’t as kind to Carey. After signing an $80 million deal in 2001 with Virgin - the biggest record contract ever - she experienced a very public personal and professional. Following these setbacks, Virgin and Carey parted ways early in 2002, with the label paying her $28 million.
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 ninth album, Charmbracelet, which failed to become a success. The Emancipation of Mimi, her most successful work in years, came in 2008. It climbed to multi-platinum status and earned Carey three Grammy awards - Best Contemporary R&B Album and, for the single “We Belong Together”, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song - thus restoring her status as a megastar.
Two weeks before the release of her subsequent album, April 2008’s E=MC2, Carey scored her 18th number one hit with “Touch My Body”, a feat that pushed her into second place (past Elvis, no less) among all artists with the most chart-topping singles. Although the hit kept her in the spotlight that year, the remainder of the album’s spinoffs weren’t nearly as successful; only “Bye Bye” managed to scrape the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. She went back to work fairly quickly; Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel will be released in September 2009.
In the thirteen songs on her spellbinding new album, Mariah Carey explores those aspects of our shared humanity with a rare depth, honesty and open-heartedness. It's one of the strongest statements in her long, distinguished career.
The subject of Memoirs is love at all its stages in our lives - experiencing it, losing it, remembering its most painful moments, the times of greatest innocence and joy, yearning for it, learning from it, growing as a result of its profound power, finding it again, grateful for so great a gift, and finally, being humbled, filled with wonder and elevated by love’s mysterious ways. In that sense and more, Memoirs is a full, immensely satisfying journey.
“Each song is like an intimate conversation or entry in a private diary,” Carey says about the album. “A lot of the songs reflect specific, different times in my life. Others were inspired by movies, actual events that happened to me, or the stories of friends who told me about experiences that they've gone through.” With just one exception, Carey wrote and produced the entire album in collaboration with The-Dream and Tricky Stewart. The trio clearly shared an inspired sense of what Memoirs should be. Sinuous grooves and instantly memorable melodies flow from track to track, while the wit and intimacy of the lyrics create the feel of one friend talking to another. As well-defined as each song is, Memoirs plays with the beauty and consistency of a classic, start-to-finish album.