Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. Known for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register, she is referred to as the “Songbird Supreme” and the “Queen of Christmas”. She rose to fame in 1990 with her eponymous debut album, released under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, who married her three years later. Carey is the first artist in history to have their first five singles reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, from “Vision of Love” to “Emotions”.
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 topped the US Billboard Hot 100 decade-end chart (the 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 music artist of the 1990s and the best-selling pop female artist of the millennium.
After eleven consecutive years charting a U.S. number-one single, Carey parted ways with Columbia in 2001 and signed a $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records in April of that year. 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 $28 million by Virgin and she signed with Island Records the following year. After a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), the world’s second-best-selling album of 2005. Its second single, “We Belong Together”, topped the US Billboard Hot 100 decade-end chart (the 2000s). Her performance in the 2009 film Precious won her the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Carey’s subsequent ventures included serving as a judge on American Idol, starring in the docu-series Mariah’s World, and appearing in the films The Butler (2013), A Christmas Melody (2015), and The Lego Batman Movie (2017).
With sales of over 200 million records worldwide, she is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Carey has amassed an extensive catalog, with nineteen of her songs topping the Billboard Hot 100, and 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 highest certified female artist in the United States, with 68.5 million certified album units tying with Barbra Streisand. 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.