Profile Mariah Carey
Big was born on March 27, 1970, in Long Island, New York, to parents Patricia and Alfred. Unfortunately, her parents divorced when she was only three years old. As a result of her Irish/African-American/Venezuelan descent, Mariah encountered some racial discrimination while growing up.
Carey was raised in a poverty-stricken home and her mother was forced to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Conveniently enough, it was Mariah's mom who noticed her daughter's vocal talents.
One day, when Patricia was rehearsing her role of Maddalena in Verdi's Opera Rigolettos, she heard Mariah imitating her singing. Even though she was only three at the time, Mariah's mom began teaching her how to develop her vocal skills.
In high school, Carey didn't concentrate much on her education and would frequently skip classes, and instead write songs and dream about becoming a famous singer. Before she got her big break, Mariah completed 500 hours of beauty school and even worked as a hair sweeper in a salon, as a waitress and as a coat check girl.
After she graduated from high school in 1987, Carey moved to New York in order to pursue her dream of becoming a famous singer. She spent hours working in a studio writing her music and making demo tapes. In 1988, one of Mariah's friends, who played the drums for Brenda K. Starr, urged her to try out as a backup singer for Starr. Although Mariah was a little hesitant at first, she quickly realized that it was better than what she was doing at the present time.
One day, while Carey was singing for Starr, Sony record executive producer Tommy Mottola was given Carey's demo tape and her wish of becoming a singer was soon realized.
Big's first self-titled album uncovered a high-octave voice that could break sound barriers, as well as record sales. Although people initially labeled her as a "white girl with a black girl's voice," Carey quickly squashed all the hearsay and set the record straight. Nevertheless, all the media-hype ultimately contributed to her selling over six million albums.
Thanks to her debut album, she landed at No. 1 with four of her singles and won a couple of Grammys. Her following two albums, 1991's Emotions and 1992's Unplugged, were just as successful. In 1993, Mariah wed Tommy Mottola, then-chairman of Sony. Media hounds were quick to criticize the age difference between the couple (Tommy is 20 years her senior).
Once she was a success, Carey quickly got involved with the cause of inner-city youth, donating large quantities of time and money to what would be renamed "Camp Mariah." The camp is a refuge for urban youth who rarely get the chance to experience nature and embrace the arts.
In 1993, Mariah's fourth album, Music Box, and fifth album, 1994's Merry Christmas, burned up the charts just as strongly as did her previous releases. In 1995, Carey released Daydream, which earned her six Grammy nominations and began to uncover a Mariah that the world had never seen before.
Mariah began to develop a hip-hop feel in her music and began frequenting other hip-hoppers like Da Bratand Ol' Dirty Bastard. At the same time, Mariah's music started gaining popularity in clubs and her fan base became wider in range.
Carey quickly became one of the most powerful women in the music industry, with career sales topping 80 million units. Throughout 1997, Mariah watched her professional image evolve, even though her marriage to Tommy took a turn for the worse. Although they denied rumors of marital problems, Mariah released Butterfly, in which the first single's video depicts Mariah as a prisoner in an estate. This video only fueled the fire of rumors surrounding the couple's marriage. They ultimately divorced in March of 1998.
In 1999, Carey released Rainbow, which spawned the hits "Heartbreaker" and a cover of "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)"
Carey has recently tried her hand at acting. She had a small role in 1999's The Bachelor, starring Renee Zellweger Her starring debut came with the release of Glitter in September 2001, which chronicled the tumultuous rise of a singer in the 1980s. While promoting the film and its soundtrack album (and after several bizarre public occurrences), Mariah suffered what her publicist referred to as a "physical and emotional breakdown." She was briefly hospitalized, and was back in form to appear on television's America: A Tribute to Heroes, where she performed what else but her classic No. 1 hit, "Hero."
Unfortunately, Glitter failed to follow the success of her single and album releases. The film did poorly at the box office, and even the soundtrack didn't come close to matching the sales of her previous releases. To add even more insult to injury, Virgin Records dissolved its contract with her, paying her $28 million to walk away.
But Carey bounced back with a new record deal, this time with Island Def Jam (part of Universal Music Group). Her latest release, Charmbracelet, proves that she still has the vocal chops to stay in the game. It has already spawned moderate hits like "Through The Rain" and "Boy (I Need You)," featuring Cam'ron. Big is also keeping busy with the start of her own label, MonarC.
Carey can also add Wisegirls (co-starring Mira Sorvino to her acting resume, as it premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and will air on HBO and Lyrics section.