Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970 or 1969; sources vary) is an American R&B/pop singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. She made her recording debut, in 1990, under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola, in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia Records' highest-selling act.
Following her separation from Mottola, in 1997, she introduced elements of hip hop into her album work, to much initial success, but her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia, in 2001. She signed a record $80 million deal with Virgin Records, only to be dropped from the label and bought out of her contract in the following year. This radical turn of events was due to the highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, as well as the poor reception that was given to Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. In 2002, Carey signed with Island Records, and, after a relatively unsuccessful period, returned to the top of pop music, in 2005, with her album, The Emancipation of Mimi.
In a career spanning over two decades, Carey has sold more than 200 million albums, singles and videos worldwide, according to Island Def Jam, which makes her one of the world's best-selling music artists. Carey was cited as the world’s best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the 1998 World Music Awards and was also named the best-selling female artist of the millennium by the same award-giving body in 2000. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the third-best-selling female artist, with shipments of 63 million albums. In 2008, Carey earned her eighteenth number one single on the Hot 100, which ties her with Elvis Presley for the most by any solo artist. Aside from her commercial accomplishments, she has earned five Grammy Awards and is known for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and use of the whistle register.