Mariah Carey

The title of Mariah Carey's recent greatest-hits album, #1's, says it all. Carey's

smooth blend of pop and soul, while not a favorite of critics, has nevertheless struck a

chord with the record-buying public, which continues to scoop up her releases in

staggering numbers

Carey was born 29 years ago today in Long Island, N.Y. Her Venezuelan father was an

aeronautics engineer, her mother an Irish-American opera singer/voice coach. Carey

lived with her mother in Long Island after her parents divorced, and moved to New York

when she was 17 to pursue a singing career.

Carey began writing songs with keyboardist Ben Margulies and sang backup for dance

diva Brenda K. Starr, who gave a demo tape of Carey to Columbia Records head Tommy

Mottola. The label executive immediately took Carey under his wing and began building

her into a star.

Her eponymous 1990 debut LP seemingly came out of nowhere and yielded four #1 hits,

"Vision of Love" (RealAudio

excerpt), "Love Takes Time," "Someday," and "I Don't Wanna Cry." The album brought

Carey two Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, and was followed by

Emotions, which featured another #1 pop hit in the title track.

Carey's career got even hotter with the release of her 1992 MTV Unplugged EP.

The album spawned a #1 remake of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" and flew off record-

store shelves.

The following year was one of Carey's best. She married Mottola and issued Music

Box, which sold more than 8 million copies and contained the #1 hits "Hero" and

"Dreamlover." She backed the LP with her first tour and released the Merry

Christmas LP in 1994.

Carey's success continued into 1995. Daydream debuted at #1 on the

Billboard 200 and resulted in three more chart-toppers: "Fantasy," "Always Be My

Baby," and the duet with Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day," one of the biggest-selling

singles in history.

As her marriage to Mottola ended, Carey released 1997's Butterfly, an attempt to

toughen up her usually mellow sound. The single "Honey" debuted at #1 on the

Billboard Hot 100, giving Carey the most chart-topping songs of any solo female

rock-era artist. Sean "Puffy" Combs' production on a few of the CD's tracks brought hip-

hop into Carey's musical landscape. The album also included a take on Prince's "The

Beautiful Ones."

Carey's latest musical offering is her duet with Whitney Houston, "When You Believe,"

from the soundtrack to the animated film "The Prince of Egypt." The two divas performed

the Oscar-winning cut on the Academy Awards telecast Sunday.

Other birthdays: Tony Banks (Genesis), 49; Andrew Farriss (INXS), 40; Kid Congo

Powers (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), 38; and Brendan Hill (Blues Traveler), 29.