Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. In 1990, she became known after the release of her first single "Vision of Love", taken from her eponymous debut album. Mariah Carey produced four chart-topping singles in the US and began what would become a string of commercially successful albums which solidified the singer as Columbia's highest selling act. Carey and Boyz II Men spent a record sixteen weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 with "One Sweet Day", which remains the longest-running number-one song in US chart history. Following a contemptuous divorce from Sony Music head Tommy Mottola, Carey adopted a new image and traversed towards hip hop with the release of Butterfly (1997). In 1998, she was honored as the world's best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the World Music Awards and subsequently named the best-selling female artist of the millennium in 2000.
Carey parted with Columbia in 2000, and signed a record-breaking $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records America. In the weeks prior to the release of her film Glitter and its accompanying soundtrack in 2001, she suffered a physical and emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for severe exhaustion. The project was poorly received and led to a general decline in the singer's career. Carey's recording contract was bought out for $50 million by Virgin and she signed a multi-million dollar deal with Island Records the following year. After a relatively unsuccessful period, she returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). The album became the best-selling album in the US and the second best-seller worldwide in 2005 and produced "We Belong Together", which became her most successful single of the 2000s, and was later named "Song of the Decade" by Billboard. Carey once again ventured into film with a well-received supporting role in Precious (2009), and was awarded the "Breakthrough Performance Award" at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Throughout her career, Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. According to the RIAA, she is the third-best-selling female artist in the United States, with 63.5 million certified albums. With the release of "Touch My Body" (2008), Carey gained her 18th number-one single in the United States, more than any other solo artist. In 2012, the singer was ranked second on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Women in Music". Aside from her commercial accomplishments, Carey has won 5 Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, and 14 Billboard Music Awards and has been consistently credited with inspiring a generation of singers. Referred to as the "songbird supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she is famed for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and signature use of the whistle register.