Thursday, April 15

Mariah Carey Through the Years: From Humble Beginnings to Pop Megastar


And then a hero comes along! Since launching her music career, Mariah Carey has become one of the most adored and bestselling artists of all time.

As the daughter of an opera singer and vocal coach, the Huntington, New York, native grew up surrounded by music. She started singing at the age of 3 and began regularly writing songs by the time she was in high school. In 1988, one of her demos ended up in the hands of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and the rest was history.

Mottola signed Carey to his label soon after, and her self-titled debut album came out in 1990. It had a slow start, but once it gained traction, it became a massive hit. After winning Best New Artist at the 1991 Grammy Awards, Carey continued to push out album after album, including 1993’s Music Box and 1995’s Daydream.

In 1993, the “Hero” singer married Mottola, but their relationship was far from a fairy tale. Years later, in her 2020 memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she recalled being stuck “under Tommy’s crippling control.” (He did not publicly respond to her allegations but said after the book’s publication that he wished her “only the very best.”) The former couple divorced in 1998 after Carey’s affair with Derek Jeter.

The pop diva’s success reached new heights by the mid-‘90s after her 1994 album, Merry Christmas, became a holiday standard and her 1995 duet with Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day,” became the longest-running No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 history. However, her career went into a downward spiral by the early aughts when her 2001 movie, Glitter, flopped at the box office and a bizarre appearance on Total Request Live led to her being hospitalized for exhaustion and a mental breakdown.

Carey was back on top by 2005, thanks to the release of her most acclaimed album in years, The Emancipation of Mimi. She also made up for Glitter with a well-received role in the 2009 movie Precious. Carey found love again too, marrying Nick Cannon in 2008 and welcoming their twins, Moroccan and Monroe a.k.a. Roc and Roe, three years later. While the pair divorced in 2016, they remain on good terms.

Carey has showed no sign of slowing down in recent years either. She had two lucrative residencies in Las Vegas (#1 to Infinity from 2015 to 2017 and The Butterfly Returns from 2018 to 2020) and became the first solo artist to have 19 No. 1 singles when “All I Want for Christmas Is You” climbed to the top of the charts in 2019, 25 years after its original release. That said, she measures success much differently these days.

“The times [change]. I can’t expect that [my new music] is going to do 30 million, like Music Box,” she admitted to Pitchfork in 2018. “It’s so different now.”

Scroll down to see Carey through the years!

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1990

The singer released her first album, Mariah Carey, in June 1990. It featured four No. 1 singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry.”


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1991

Carey won her first two Grammys in February 1991: Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Vision of Love.”

Peter Heimsath/Shutterstock

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1993

Carey started dating Mottola while recording her album Music Box. They married in June 1993 but split in May 1997.

John Barrett/Shutterstock

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1994

Her classic Christmas album was released in October 1994 and has been rereleased several times since.


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1995

Daydream, one of Carey’s most successful albums, came out in October 1995 and yielded three No. 1 singles: “Fantasy,” “One Sweet Day” and “Always Be My Baby.”


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1998

Carey started dating Mexican singer Luis Miguel in December 1998 after her divorce from Mottola. They split three years later.

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2001

Considered by many to be one of the worst movies of all time, Glitter hit theaters in September 2001 and only grossed $5.3 million worldwide.

20th Century Fox/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

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2001

During an infamous surprise appearance on TRL in July 2001, Carey performed a striptease and pushed an ice cream cart around the set of the MTV show. She was hospitalized later that month for two weeks.

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2002

She made her comeback in February 2002, singing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVI.

Dave Martin/AP/Shutterstock

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2005

Carey’s first bestseller album in a decade, The Emancipation of Mimi, dropped in April 2005 and featured hits like “We Belong Together” and “Shake It Off.”


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2008

The entertainer tied the knot with Cannon in the Bahamas in April 2008, shortly after they met on the set of her “Bye Bye” music video.

Marion Curtis/Starpix/Shutterstock

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2009

Carey played a social worker in the Oscar-winning, Gabourey Sidibe-led film Precious, which premiered in November 2009.

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2011

Carey and Cannon welcomed Roc and Roe, whom she called Dem Babies, in April 2011. The former couple split three years later.

Courtesy of Mariah Carey/Instagram

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2013

The “Obsessed” songstress judged one season of American Idol from January to May 2013. She and Nicki Minaj infamously feuded throughout their time on the show before they both left.

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2015

During her first Vegas residency, which ran from May 2015 to July 2017, Carey performed all 18 of her No. 1 singles in chronological order. (“All I Want for Christmas Is You” had yet to top the Hot 100 at that point.)

Andrew Estey/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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2016

Carey chronicled her brief engagement to Australian billionaire businessman James Packer in her E! docuseries, Mariah’s World, which aired from December 2016 to January 2017. She later revealed that they “didn’t have a physical relationship.”

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2016

Carey began dating her backup dancer Bryan Tanaka in late 2016, shortly after her split from Packer. She called Tanaka her “boyfriend” for the first time the following February.

Broadimage/Shutterstock

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2016

The star’s December 2016 performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest went horribly awry due to technical difficulties. Her rep later told Us Weekly that her earpiece was not working.

Greg Allen/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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2020

Carey’s memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, was published in September 2020 and included little-known details about her tumultuous childhood, her ‘90s rendezvous with Jeter and a secret rock album she recorded.




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