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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 10:26 GMT
The fall and rise of Mariah Carey
Pop diva Mariah Carey's three Grammy Awards have capped a remarkable comeback, four years after her career appeared to be in tatters.

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is nominated for eight Grammy awards this year
Rarely has a music star experienced such extreme highs and lows as Mariah Carey.

The most successful US female solo artist of the 1990s, she sold 110 million records in a decade.

But at the start of the new millennium, she suffered a painful fall from grace as her records sales plummeted and her attempts at acting were ridiculed.

Most artists who suffer such a steep reversal of fortune never fully recover.

But Carey has fought her way back to the very top, leading the Grammy nominations and scoring last year's best-selling album in the US with The Emancipation of Mimi.

Hit debut

The Mariah Carey story started when a demo cassette by the New York-born daughter of an opera singer was heard by Sony Music's US president, Tommy Mottola.

He signed her - and Carey's debut single, Vision of Love, was an immediate smash hit in 1990 when she was 20.

That started a record run of five consecutive US number one singles and she won her only previous Grammy awards for best new artist and best female pop vocal performance at the start of 1991.

Her distinctive soaring voice and powerful pop ballads helped the seven albums she released in the 1990s all become huge hits.

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey last won a Grammy in 1991
The peaks came when 1993's Music Box and 1995's Daydream sold more than 10 million copies each in the US.

She had married Mottola in 1993, but the couple separated five years later, complicating relations with her label.

"I was trying to get away from a label which I had been very successful with, but was very difficult because of the personal relationship that I had with the head of the label," she later said.

Her last album for Sony, 1999's Rainbow, saw her sales start to dip for the first time - but EMI lured her with a reported $80m (45m) four-album deal in 2001.

The decision was a disaster for both sides.

'Snap decision'

Carey has said the ensuing period was "just a complete and total stress-fest".

"I made a total snap decision which was based on money, and I never make decisions based on money. I learned a big lesson from that."

Her one and only album for EMI, the Glitter soundtrack, was a flop, selling a million copies in the US.

Worse was the accompanying movie, in which Carey played a budding singer seeking fame. Her role in the film earned her the Golden Raspberry award for worst actress of 2001.

The lowest point came in mid-2001, when the star was admitted to hospital after suffering an emotional and physical breakdown. Reports of a suicide attempt surfaced in the press, but these were denied by the singer's publicist.

Mariah Carey
Carey's latest album is her most successful release for a decade
In January 2002, EMI offloaded its star signing by paying Carey $28m (19m) to end her contract.

But it took just four months for the singer to begin rebuilding her career, signing a new deal with Island/Def Jam, which also gave Carey her own label.

Her next album Charmbracelet came later that year and got a lukewarm reception.

But the 2005 follow-up, The Emancipation of Mimi, took her straight back to the top of the A-List.

It updated her sound to compete with younger R&B divas and she recruited urban superstars Nelly and Snoop Dogg for collaborations.

The first single, We Belong Together, spent 14 weeks at the top of the US singles chart and she has now amassed 17 US number one hits - the same as Elvis Presley.

Carey says that the secret to her renewed success is the fact she no longer feels the need to please critics or label executives.

"I think as long as you hang on to who you know you are inside and don't allow other people's negativity to get to you, you can persevere and really just never lose faith."


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