Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
March 27, 1970
Currently Known For:
Singer, Songwriter, Actress, and Record Producer
"We Belong Together," "Without You," "All I Want for Christmas Is You," and "One Sweet Day"
“Never, never listen to anybody that tries to discourage you.” Often praised as the “Songbird Supreme” thanks to her incredible five-octave vocal range and signature whistle register, it’s no surprise that Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling female artists of all time with over 200 million records (and counting) sold worldwide. Getting her start in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Carey was an instant success with classics like “Vision of Love” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry” that built the foundation of her stellar career and fueled future hits like “We Belong Together,” “Without You,” and “All I Want for Christmas is You.” These hits and over a dozen others have made her the only artist to have 18 number-one ranked singles. Add in Carey’s 19 World Music Awards, 14 Billboard Music Awards, 10 American Music Awards and five Grammy Awards and it’s easy to see why the 48-year-old songbird is a music icon!
A Rising Star
“There is a price to pay for living a public life. You can either sit there and go, ‘Woe is me, I’m famous,’ which some people do. But you kind of asked for it.” Decades before she built her reputation as the “Songbird Supreme,” Mariah Carey was born on March 27, 1970 in Huntington, New York to an African American aeronautical engineer named Alfred and an Irish American opera singer named Patricia. As a biracial child in the 1970s, Carey never quite felt like she belonged, a feeling similar to what her mother experienced since Patricia’s family disowned her shortly after she married Alfred.
“My mom experienced a lot of racism as an opera singer because she was married to a black man,” Carey later said. “I wished I had darker skin… I had to go through so much in my childhood just to feel accepted and feel worthy of existing on Earth because I felt so different from everybody else growing up, because I was biracial, because I was so ambiguous looking and because we didn’t have the money to escape whatever the everyday realities of life were.”
With her parents eventually divorcing when she was three years old, Carey went to live with her mother and brother, Morgan, while her sister, Alison, moved in with their father. Still confused by her father’s absence, Carey turned to music for comfort and remembers sneaking a radio into her bed each night to help her fall asleep. That was only the beginning as Carey’s passion for music grew as she started elementary school and wrote countless poems, later added melodies to the words in what now signifies the start of her future as a songwriter. By the time she reached Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, Carey’s talent as a singer was well-known thanks to her five-octave vocal range and incredible whistle register, which she perfected under the watchful eye of her mother who coached her daughter but never pushed her into opera. “I respect opera like crazy, but it didn’t influence me,” Carey later said.
During her senior year of high school, Carey started writing songs with Gavin Christopher and, after graduation in 1987, moved to Manhattan where she rented a one-bedroom apartment with four other women. She spent her days waitressing at local restaurants and her evenings writing songs for her demo album, which failed to garner interest from local labels. However, luck was on Carey’s side when she met a young rising pop singer named Brenda K. Starr who invited Carey to a record executives’ gala where she gave Carey’s demo tape to Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola. Listening to the tape on his way home from the gala, Mottola was instantly impressed and offered Carey a recording contract with Columbia Records promising to advertise her as their next top female artist. Within weeks, Carey was slotted against high profile singers like Madonna and Whitney Houston.
Columbia Records invested over $1 million in marketing Carey’s self-titled debut album, which failed to impress during its first few weeks but later redeemed itself with a slow climb up the Billboard 200 chart. The album even earned Carey her first two Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist, which made her a household name in the industry and launched the album to the top of the major music charts for 11 weeks. By the end of 1991, Mariah Carey was the best-selling album of the year and pushed Carey even further into the spotlight as she began recording her second album, Emotions, in 1991.
Settling into Stardom
“Everything is totally different than when I started as a kid. All I knew was the radio. When I first heard my song on the radio, it flipped me out. I couldn’t believe it.” Carey released her third studio album, Music Box, in 1993 and enjoyed similar success thanks to singles like “Hero” that inspired her to embark on The Music Box Tour, which was a six-date sold-out tour across North America. Afterward, she took a year off and returned in late 1994 with the release of her first holiday album, Merry Christmas, featuring the hit single, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” With the album becoming the best-selling Christmas album of all time, Carey reestablished herself as a star and followed up with Daydream (1995), Butterfly (1997), and Rainbow (1999).
By the new millennium, Carey was awarded Billboard’s Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium before a string of personal and professional struggles threatened her career. Following a physical and emotional breakdown in 2001, she reduced her busy workload and delayed the release of her film, Glitter, and its soundtrack. The delay and Carey’s erratic behavior hurt the film’s success as Carey stepped out of the spotlight to focus on her health and next album, Charmbracelet, which was a huge flop as critics panned Carey’s vocals. Carey, however, refused to let the criticism overshadow her passion and came back strong with her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi, which was a huge success and featured career defining singles like “We Belong Together.”
Following up with another headlining tour as well as the release of E=MC2 in 2007 and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel in 2009, Carey ventured into acting with credits in Tennessee, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and Precious. In 2010, she released her second Christmas album, Merry Christmas II You and briefly took a seat as a guest judge on American Idol before an ongoing squabble with Nicki Minaj caused Carey to leave the show. The decision proved to be a smart move for Carey who released Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse before announcing her Number Ones residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas starting in 2015. In the three years since then, Carey has released a docuseries—Mariah’s World—with the E! network in addition to making a cameo alongside Queen Latifah in Girls Trip and embarking on a tour with Lionel Richie titled All The Hits Tour. Most recently, she announced her partnership with Starz to release a scripted drama about her rise to fame.
Life at Home: Behind the Scenes
Beyond her incredible career in the spotlight, the 48-year-old Carey has done her best to keep her personal life private after a tumultuous relationship with Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola. Marrying on June 5, 1993, Carey and Mottola were at constant odds throughout their marriage as Mottola worked to gain more and more control over Carey’s career. In May 1997, the couple announced their split in a move that gave Care more creative freedom than ever before. Shortly after, she started dating singer Luis Miguel from 1998 to 2001 before meeting and falling in love with actor and comedian Nick Cannon on the set of the music video for “Bye Bye.”
Carey and Cannon married on April 30, 2008 in The Bahamas and, after a few years of marriage, announced they were pregnant with twins. On their third anniversary, Carey and Cannon welcomed twins Moroccan and Monroe into the world. Over the next few years, they lived in complete bliss as a family of four until the couple announced their separation in 2014. With the divorce finalized in late 2016, Carey confirmed her engagement to Australian billionaire James Packer before breaking off the relationship in October. For now, Carey remains tight-lipped on her romantic life and, instead, is focused on raising her two children while speaking out about her ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder, a condition that has certainly affected her career in the spotlight and her relationships behind the scenes.