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Artist Spotlight: Mariah Carey defrosts for Christmas season

The holiday season has officially commenced and chances are you’ve heard Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” many times by now. The 1994 hit has transformed the artist into a holiday icon, with fans and stars like Dolly Parton crowning her the “Queen of Christmas.” 

Since earning the number one spot on Billboard’s “Greatest of All Time Holiday 100 Songs,” Carey embraces her annual throne by teasing her winter ‘defrosting’ in videos such as this one

Carey’s success is made apparent by endorsements from companies like Mattel, which honored her with her own Barbie, and her feature on the cover of People Magazine in her signature color, red. 

The vocal gymnastics of the soprano are miles ahead of even the most noteworthy artists in history, sparking interest in how the Christmas Golden Girl earned her icon status. 

Interestingly, Carey has been extremely vocal not only within her career and around the holidays, but with her personal life as well.

Much of Carey’s upbringing was detailed in her 2020 memoir “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” in which she details the experiences that shaped her. To fans’ surprise, the singer detailed the family dysfunction she dealt with growing up, which proved her experience with adversity.

She included painful memories like witnessing the violence her brother exhibited toward her mother, deadly threats from her mother’s former lover and her older sister drugging her and leaving her in the hands of her perverted, armed boyfriend. 

Growing up in the 1970s, Carey’s biracial background also proved to attract bigotry from opposing neighbors who went as far as to poison the family’s dog and set their car on fire. Even her older siblings resented her for her light skin and hair, a contributing factor in her complicated relationship with her siblings.  

Despite Carey’s dysfunctional family history, it’s no surprise that Carey inherited the vocal ability of her mother, The Juilliard School-trained former opera singer and vocal coach Patricia Carey. 

In her book, Carey claims her mother told her, “You should only hope that you could be half the singer that I am.”

When the two women performed together in the 2010 ABC Christmas Special, it was evident Carey exceeded her mother’s expectations for her. 

The singer’s tainted past, however, did not stop her from pursuing her musical dreams in New York City. 

Immediately after graduating high school, the star moved to the city and was eventually signed at Columbia Records in 1988 by Tommy Mottola, whom she married in 1993. 

Her self-titled R&B album debuted in 1990 and its great success led to her winning her first two Grammy Awards, Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocalist, in 1991. 

Following in the footsteps of her first album, “Emotions,” was a major hit, with the title track becoming her fifth consecutive single to reach No. 1 on the charts. Her most popular tracks on Spotify, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” both were released on her 1994 holiday album “Merry Christmas.”

Around the same time, Carey released two other albums, “Music Box” (1993) and “Daydream” (1995), both of which sold 10 million copies in the U.S. alone. 

Six albums into a successful career, 1997 was a big year for Carey when she separated from Mottola and her wholesome image with her album “Butterfly.” The album was heavily influenced by hip-hop and rap, and accompanied scandalous music videos such as “Honey.” Additionally, Carey made her first attempt at starting a record label, Crave Records. 

Ultimately, Crave Records was not a success and shut down after only a year of business. Instead, Carey signed an $80 million contract with Virgin Records in 2001, making her the highest-paid recording artist of the time. However, the success was cut short by a breakdown that resulted in her hospitalization. 

Around the same time, Carey released her film “Glitter” along with an album of the same name, neither of which amounted to much. In 2002, her contract with Virgin Records was terminated. 

That year, the star made a second attempt at a label when she launched MonarC Entertainment, a company owned by her newly signed label, The Island Def Jam Music Group. The only albums ever released under MonarC Entertainment were two of her own, “Charmbracelet” and a compilation of remixed versions of the star’s most popular songs titled “The Remixes,” neither of which achieved much success.

Carey’s career was revived in 2005 with her album, “The Emancipation of Mimi,” which became the top-selling album of the year and won three Grammy awards. Another album in 2008, “E=MC2,” brought her 18th number-one single, “Touch My Body,” to the Billboard chart, surpassing Elvis Presley. 

In 2008 and 2009, Carey continued her acting career in “Tennessee and “Precious.” 

Later in her career, Carey released several albums including “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” (2009), a second Christmas album in 2010 and “Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse” (2014). Additionally, in 2013 she acted in “The Butler” (2013) and was a judge on “American Idol’s” 12th season

In 2017, she showcased her acting abilities once again in “Girls Trip,” and in a movie inspired by and named after her song, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” After seemingly giving up the idea of her record label, Carey also started a successful label, Butterfly MC Records, and released her 2018 album, “Caution,” through it. 

Since then, Carey has had several Las Vegas residencies, the most recent being in 2020. Additionally, Apple TV+ released “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special and “Mariah’s Christmas: The Magic Continues in 2020 and 2021. 


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