Mariah Carey was born in Long Island, New York to the former opera singer Patricia Hickey and Alfred Roy Carey. Her mother is Irish American and her father is of African-American and Venezuelan descent. The third and youngest child of the family, Carey endured racial slurs, and hostility that forced the family to move several times. When Carey was three, her parents divorced.
Often at home by herself, as Carey's mother worked several jobs to support the family, Carey began to turn to music. She started singing at the age of three and performed in public during elementary school. By junior high she was writing her own songs and in high school, she was often used as a demo singer for local recording studios. This helped her meet musicians in the music industry and so she had the help of Christopher and Ben Margulies on her demo tape after high school.
She became a backup singer for Brenda K. Starr and in 1988, met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party where Starr gave him Carey's tape. Motolla tracked down Carey and signed her to his label.
Carey's self-titled debut album was released in 1990 and was co-written by Carey. The album was a great success, reaching number one after heavy promotion. It had four number one singles and earned Carey two Grammy Awards, Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The album was a big success, going on to sell over 9 million copies.
Released shortly after was Emotions, Carey's second album and a homage to the Motown sound. It failed to make any impressions, either critically or commercially. It only had one hit single, the title track. Despite all this, the album still went five times platinum.
While making Carey's debut album, she became romantically involved with Mottola and they married in 1993. During the same year, Carey worked alongside Babyface for her third album Music Box. The album had two number-one hits 'Dreamlover' and 'Hero' and was her most successful album worldwide to date. The album sold 10 million copies in the United States.
In 1994, Carey released a Christmas Album titled Merry Christmas. The album is most well known for the track 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' which continues to be one of Carey's most popular songs to date. The album went five times platinum and is the most popular Christmas album to date.
Carey's best selling album in the United States is Music Box, released in 1995. The singles were equally large hits with 'Fantasy' debuting at number 1, 'One Sweet Day' spending a record sixteen weeks at number one and 'Always Be My Baby' leading the year-end radio airplay chart.
Carey and Mottola separated in 1996 and were divorced in 1998. This saw a major change in Carey's personnel as she hired a new attorney and manager. She also became a major producer for other acts, helping Allure, 7 Mile and Blaque get started. In 1997, she released the album Butterfly which yielded the number-one hit 'Honey.' The album had a significant hip-hop feel to it and did well, going 5X platinum. 'My All,' another single from the album, reached #1 as well, giving her thirteen Hot 100 number one hits, the most by a female artist.
Rainbow, Carey's sixth album, was released in 1999 and was her lowest selling album up to that point. Despite having two number one hits, 'Heartbreaker' and 'Thank God I Found You,' the album did not move units as well as others. She accused Sony of underpromoting her single 'Crybaby'/'Can't Take That Away' which eventually led to her leaving the label.
The new century brought hard times for Carey as she had a physical and emotional breakdown, checking into a hospital. Her movie Glitter was panned and it's soundtrack faired poorly as well. Her father died of cancer in 2002, further adding to Carey's burdens.
Furthering the hard times for Carey, her album Charmbracelet, released in 2002. While she worked hard to promote the album, it did not stay on the chart for long and only went platinum.
Redeeming her career, in 2005, Carey released the album The Emancipation of Mimi. The album was the year's best selling album and won three Grammy Awards. Her single 'We Belong Together' was number one for fourteen weeks, the longest run by Carey as a solo artist. 'Don't Forget About Us' became Carey's seventeenth number-one hit, tying her with Elvis Presley by Billboard's revised methodology.
Beyond her music career, Mariah Carey is a philanthropist, donating to organizations such as the Fresh Air Fund. In addition, she is an active contributor to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Mariah Carey recently married rapper/actor Nick Cannon in the Bahamas. They met while filming a music video and found themselves to be soulmates.