Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

CAREY, Mariah

(b 27 March '70) Pop singer with a five-octave range, the youngest of three children of Irish and black/Hispanic Venezuelan parents; her mother is Patricia Carey of the New York City Opera. Her parents split up when she was three, partly under the pressure of Long Island racists burning their cars. Her sister became a drug addict and a prostitute; her brother had cerebral palsy and one leg shorter than the other, but took up body-building and kick-boxing and has fought at Madison Square Garden. She sang backup for Brenda Starr, who generously pressed Carey's demos on music execs; Tommy Mottola listened briefly, signed her up, spent a year tweaking her first album, meanwhile left his family and married Carey. She became the best-selling female artist of the '90s, a sorely-needed shot in the arm for Sony Music; she won the Best New Artist Grammy '90, her eponymous Columbia debut album a Billboard no. 1 for eleven weeks: 'Vision Of Love' and 'Love Takes Time' were each no. 1 in the Hot 100, R&B and 'Adult' singles charts. Emotions '91 was a no. 4 album (three chart-topping singles that year); MTV Unplugged EP '92 no. 3; Music Box '93 was no. 1 for eight weeks, including 'Dreamlover' (also no. 1 for eight weeks, sampling 'Blind Alley' from the Emotions' album Untouched); 'Hero' was no. 1 for four weeks. She did a Christmas album '94, then Daydream early '96. She yells her own bad songs accurately, outdoing Whitney Houston, never using one note where ten will do, sweeping fans off their feet: after all, her life is every twelve-year-old's fantasy come true. Her covers are even worse: as Marcus Berkmann wrote in The Spectator about her version of the old Harry Nilsson hit 'Without You' (on Music Box), 'Even in the simplest, quietest parts of the song, where some degree of restraint is vital, Ms Carey can't resist the otiose flourish, the pointless pyrotechnics. This isn't an interpretation, it's a brutal assault.' She split with Mottola May '97 and released Butterfly, said to be her most 'personal' album; 'Honey' made her the female artist with the most no. 1 singles in history.

In April 2005 a new CD The Emancipation Of Mimi was due, said to be referring to a childhood nickname. 'I am inviting my fans into my life,' she said. 'For the first time in my life, I am proud and unafraid to be who I really amů' And about time too.