Honing her songwriting skills and lending her vocals to several local acts, she first garnered industry attention when singing backup for Brenda K. Starr, who gave Mariah's demo tape to Sony Music Entertainment chief Tommy Mottola at a party. As legend has it, Mottola played the demo on his ride home and ordered his driver to immediately return to the party so that he could meet the young singer. Soon afterwards, Mottola signed Mariah to a Columbia Records contract.
Mariah has since become the best-selling female performer of all time, with an incredible 15 #1 singles and two Grammy Awards. Along the way she became the only artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s, and, with "Heartbreaker," she pushed ahead of the Beatles as the artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. Mariah has proven that she is equally at home with sweeping ballads and pop, often incorporating elements of dance and hip-hop into the mix. Perhaps even more impressive, she composes all of her own material. In May 2002, Mariah signed an exclusive recording contract with the Universal Music Group's Island. Carey has formed her own label, MonarC Music. Mariah's new album features the songstress writing and co-producing with such a-list names as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Jermaine Dupri among others. The album, which is lyrically very personal, showcases Mariah's stunning voice, prolific songwriting and incredible versatility. This is fully evident on the first single, the sweeping epic ballad, "Through The Rain" which is a perfect example of what Mariah does best.
Mariah's self-titled Columbia debut, released in 1990, spawned an extraordinary four #1 singles: "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday" and "I Don't Wanna Cry," and led to Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. The following year's album, Emotions, was another smash, with the title track scoring her fifth consecutive #1 single and two other titles - "Can't Let Go" and "Make It Happen" - reaching the Top Five. Her next release, 1992's MTV Unplugged EP, scored another #1 with her cover of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There." Music Box (1993) became her biggest seller to date, with "Dreamlover" and "Hero" again topping the charts, and was followed by 1994's Merry Christmas, which contained another hit with "All I Want for Christmas is You." Daydream (1995) contained the club-friendly "Fantasy," which debuted at #1 - making Mariah the second artist in history, and the first female performer, to accomplish that feat. The follow-up single, "One Sweet Day" (recorded with Boyz II Men), followed suit and stayed at the top of the charts for a record 16 weeks. Butterfly (1997) revealed an even greater hip-hop flavor than its predecessor, scoring hits with "Honey" and "My All." The following year witnessed the release of greatest hits collection #1's, which included a new song, "When You Believe" (from the film The Prince of Egypt), a duet with Whitney Houston which paired the two most successful female recording artists in pop history. Rainbow, with its chart-topping tune "Heartbreaker," followed in 1999. In 2001, Mariah signed with Virgin Records, which released Glitter, the soundtrack album to the film of the same name, with Mariah in her first lead acting role. She has also been featured in the films The Bachelor (1999) and Wisegirls (2002).