Having sold over 200 million records, one of the world's best selling artists ever
The best-selling female performer of the 1990s, Mariah Carey rose to superstardom on the strength of her stunning five-octave voice. An elastic talent who moved easily from glossy ballads to hip-hop-inspired dance-pop, she earned frequent comparison to rivals Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, but did them both one better by composing all of her own material. Born in Long Island, NY, on March 27, 1970, Carey moved to New York City at the age of 17 — just one day after graduating high school — to pursue a music career; there she befriended keyboardist Ben Margulies, with whom she began writing songs. Her big break came as a backing vocalist on a studio session with dance-pop singer Brenda K. Starr, who handed Carey’s demo tape to Columbia Records head Tommy Mottola at a party. According to legend, Mottola listened to the tape in his limo while driving home that same evening, and was so immediately struck by Carey’s talent that he doubled back to the party to track her down.
After signing to Columbia, Carey entered the studio to begin work on her 1990 self-titled debut LP. The heavily promoted album was a chart-topping smash, launching no less than four number one singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday,” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” Her overnight success earned Grammy Awards as Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist, and expectations were high for Carey’s follow-up, 1991’s Emotions. The album did not disappoint, as the title track reached number one — a record fifth consecutive chart-topper — while both “Can’t Let Go” and “Make It Happen” landed in the Top Five. Carey’s next release was 1992’s MTV Unplugged EP, which generated a number one cover of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.” Featured on the track was backup singer Trey Lorenz, whose appearance immediately helped him land a recording contract of his own.
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