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The Rise of Mariah Carey

Today we’ll take a detailed look in the life of the queen of pop and the best selling female artist if the 90’s. She’s the best selling female artists of all time in music history. Today’s topic is “The Rise of Mariah Carey”.


Mariah Carey was born on March 27th 1969 and she was not only a singer-songwriter, but also an actress. Her parents faced discrimination because her parents were an inter-racial couple. This put Mariah in a tough spot growing up being mixed because at the time there was a lot of racial tension going on in the black community. Her mother’s family disowned her mom because she married a black man and they faced many trials living in Huntington, New York. All the tension took a toll on her parents relationship and they were divorced shortly after Mariah was born. Mariah started singing at the age of three, often trying to imitate her mother’s opera singing.

She graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlaw, New York, in 1987. Her mother was an opera singer and she began vocal lessons with Mariah. In high school she worked as a demo singer, and after she moved to New York City she worked two part time jobs, and attended beauty school.


In December 1988, Mariah attended the CBS record executives’ gala, and little did she know her big break was coming. She handed her demo tape to Tommy Mottola, who was the head of Columbia Records. He was immediately interested and even turned the car around to go back to the gala to find her, but she had already left. He spent the next two weeks trying to track her down, but once he found her another record label was interested as well. Mottola ended up getting her to sign with him, and she was the main female artist on their roster. This was during the time of Whitney Houston rising herself into the star she became, so the media tried to create a competition between the two.

Her debut album, Mariah Carey, topped the charts for eleven consecutive weeks, and she ended up winning a Grammy award for Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her hit single “Vision of Love.” Some singles that topped the charts were “Love Takes Time”, “Someday”, and “I Don’t Wanna Cry”. The album sold 15 million copies worldwide, and it was the best selling album in the U.S in 1991.

Her next album, Emotions, was co-wrote and produced herself. It was released in September 1991. She was the first artist to have their first five singles reach the charts summit, and the album was praised to the highest, but of course some critics had other opinions. It didn’t perform as well as her debut album, but still sold eight million copies worldwide. Also, her and Tommy Mottola, the guy who discovered Mariah, tied the knot and got married.

Mariah didn’t like to go on tour because she loved performing in the studio, and also scared she might not be able to hit her signature high pitch vocals. But, to prove others wrong, she made an appearance on MTV Unplugged and in March of 1992, she played a seven song show in Queens, New York. Her added cover version of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” became her sixth number one single on the charts and since it was so successful Sony released it as an EP, and it went triple platinum.

Then came her next album, Music Box, and the album released on August 31st, 1993. The single “Hero” became her signature song and she went on tour to promote the album. This album was her best selling album of all time, selling 28 million copies worldwide. In 1994, Mariah released the best selling Christmas album of all time titled Merry Christmas, and it sold over 15 million copies internationally. She broke the Guinness World Record and her hit single “All I Want For Christmas Is You” became the 11th bestselling single in modern music.

She released her third album, Daydream, and it now became her best selling album in the U.S. The album went certified diamond and sold over 20 million copies globally. This album wasn’t the pop star Mariah everyone knew her for, but she decided to take more of a R&B and hip-hop vibe. The world loved it and some hit singles were “Fantasy” and “One Sweet Day” featuring Boyz II Men. Daydream was nominated for six Grammy Awards, but unfortunately didn’t win one. She decided to tour internationally for the first time and set records for selling out 150,000 tickets for her three shows in Japans’ largest stadium.

Going into 1997, he released her next album, Butterfly, and she stated that the release of this album was a turning point in her life and her career. She finally got out of the toxic relationship with Tommy, and finally had full control of her life and her music. Tommy controlled her life, and her career to the point she was scared to even leave the house. When her close friend Whitney Houston passed, it was a wake up call for her to take control of her life. She went on tour and appeared on the VH1 Divas benefit concert in 1998 alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan, and Carloe King.

Mariah filmed for a project titled Glitter, which released in 2001, and she also wrote songs for Men in Black, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Glitter was postponed, which is why it didn’t release until a few years later than originally. Sony decided to release a greatest hits collection for the holidays, and it did wonders. The single #1, sold over $3.25 million copies and became the best selling album by a non-Asian artist.

Her next album, Rainbow, was her last album with Sony, and she desperately wanted to part ways since her ex-husband was still involved in management, so she finished the album in three months. She worked with different producers and song-writers than she usually did venturing outside the box. This album was her lowest selling album in her career.

In April of 2001, Mariah received Billboard’s Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for the Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium. She left Columbia Records and signed a five-album $80 million deal with Virgin Records this year. This was the year Glitter was released, and Mariah also suffered from a breakdown after another relationship ended between her and Latin singer Luis Miguel. She was hospitalized due to “extreme exhaustion” and “physical and emotional breakdown”. She was diagnosed with Bi-polor disorder, and finally decided to accept it and deal with her mental health issues the right way.

Her career suffered during this time because of her mental health, and she takes full blame on the poor performance of the Glitter soundtrack. It was the lowest selling album she’s ever released. During all the chaos, Virgin Records bought her out for $28 million, and she flew to Capri to focus on her next album and get back to herself.

She then signed a contract with Island Records for $24 million and launched her own record label. Finally getting back into the groove of things, Mariah sung the national anthem at the 2002 Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Mariah released her ninth album titled Charmbracelet, in December 2002. Her album received plenty of negative feedback, especially that she doesn’t have the same voice as in the past. She went on tour, and this time with smaller, more intimate crowds.

She released her tenth album, The Emancipation of Mimi, and finally an album that actually topped the charts and it became her fifth number one album since Butterfly. The hit single “We Belong Together” revived her music career and was the second longest running number one since in U.S chart history, right behind her single “One Sweet Day” featuring Boyz II Men. It was also considered the “song of the decade” by Billboard.

In 2005, Mariah became the first female to have the first two spots of the Hot 100, with singles “We Belong Together” and “Shake It Off”. She won three Grammys and The Emancipation of Mimi was the best selling album in the U.S in 2005 and sold almost 7.7 million copies worldwide.

Early in 2007, came her next album E=MC2. It debuted the charts in the number one position and sold over 460,000 copies in the first week. She went on tour, but due to a miscarriage, she cancelled it.

On January 20th, 2009, Mariah did the honors and performed at Obama’s Inauguration Ball, while he was sworn in as the first African-American president of the United States and she also sang at the memorial service for Michael Jackson on his passing.

Mariah appeared in some more films in 2009, such as Precious and she won an award for her performance in the film. She released her 12th album titled, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, late in 2009. But the album didn’t perform to expectations. Although the single “Obsessed” debuted on the charts. This single became her 27th U.S top-ten, and she is fifth on the list for the most top-ten hits.

So going into 2010, she announced her 13th album would be a second Christmas album titled Merry Christmas II You. It debuted at number one on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts and sold 56,000 copies in its first week. Mariah continued to perform, and she also joined the cast of American Idol on its 12th season, which she wasn’t too fond of. She made an appearance on Lee Daniels’ film The Butler and a guest appearance on American Dad!

In 2013, Mariah dropped her 14th album and the single “Beautiful” featuring Miguel appeared on the charts. The next year she signed a residency deal to perform at the Beacon Theatre in New York City for the All I Want For Christmas Is You, A Night of Joy & Festivity. In 2015, she signed another residency deal in Las Vegas after she left Universal Music Group and reunited with Sony and Epic Records. She would be performing at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Also, in 2015, she directed her first film for the Hallmark Channel. The film was titled A Christmas Melody, and she also played one of the main characters in the film. The Sweet Fantasy Tour took place and she did a total of 27 dates only in mainland Europe and four stops in Africa. The tour was a huge success and grossed over $30.3 million.

Going into 2016, she started to film a docu-series for the E! Network, so fans would finally get a look inside Mariah’s life. She made an appearance on Empire, and performed in Times Square for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but due to some malfunctions the event turned into a complete wreck.

In 2017, she collaborated with artists such as YG, Swae Lee, and French Montana. She made an appearance in the comedy film Girls Trip, and The Lego Movie. She decided to release another Christmas film, this time an animation and she performed for the first time in England and France.

Getting into 2018, she signed a worldwide deal with Live Nation Entertainment. She planned on releasing her 15th album later on in the year as well. It was released in November 2018 and she went on the Caution World Tour in early 2019. She re-released her Merry Christmas album for its 25th album and it included some live performances.

In 2020, Mariah is still being recognized for her talent and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She wrote a book titled The Meaning of Mariah Carey, which was released in September 2020. She got into depth about certain things like childhood trauma, identity, race, and more.

Mariah Carey has won five Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 10 American Music Awards, and 15 Billboard Music Awards. She is the second best selling female artist in the world and has sold over 66.5 million copies of her music only in the U.S.

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