Mariah Carey has come a long way since she rose to fame in the early ‘90s when she was just in her twenties. Her first self-titled album was a smash success, as it topped the Billboard 200 chart for eleven back-to-back weeks. She quickly became the only musician to have her first five singles achieve the number one spot on the Billboard chart. Mariah went on to release equally-famous albums like Music Box (1993), Merry Christmas (1994), Daydream (1995), Butterfly (1997), and many more.
Just as quickly as she rose to fame, Mariah gained a reputation for being a bit of a Diva (although we love her for it). After various high-profile relationships, the singer eventually settled down with comedian Nick Cannon. The couple met on the set of one of her music videos on an island near Guatemala. They married within a year in 2008, and then welcomed their twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, in 2011. Eventually, Mariah and Nick announced their separation in 2014. Their divorce was finalized in 2016.
Since her divorce, Mariah has been in a string of dramatic relationships. But if one thing is for sure, she’s taking time to focus on her two kids. Keep reading to see what life was like for Mariah before she became a mom-of-two.
20 She Was A '90s Superstar
Mariah may have only been in her early 20s in the 1990s, but that didn’t stop the celebrity from taking the music industry by storm.
By 19393, she’d already released three albums, won a Grammy, and embarked on several world tours. It’s no wonder the singer has amassed such a Diva-ish reputation when she gained so much success at such a young age.
“You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, 'I'm proud of what I am and who I am, and I'm just going to be myself,’” once said about making it in the music business.
19 But Came From A (Really) Rough Childhood
Mariah may be living the life of luxury nowadays, but the celebrity sure didn’t have it easy while growing up. Her mother, Patricia, was an opera singer, while her father, Alfred, was an aeronautical engineer. Her mother’s family disowned the young couple because Alfred was black.
However, the parents-of-three ended up separating when Mariah was only 3. Mariah has said that her father was absent for most parts of her life afterwards. She has also revealed that the family had to move a lot for work, but they were always short on money. Things got rougher on the home front when her older sister Alison became pregnant at 15 and also developed a substance problem.
18 She Got Married Young, At The Age Of 23
While most fans are familiar with Mariah’s most recent marriage to Nick Cannon, many forget that she was married for the first time when she was only 23 years old.
The singer began dating music executive Tommy Mottola, who was 20 years her senior, after he took credit for discovering Mariah when she was only 19. They were married in 1993 when she was 23. Mariah notably took a step away from the spotlight during their short-lived marriage to focus on their relationship. However, things came to an end in 1997 when they publicly announced their separation.
Sources at the time said the pair began to have creative differences over Mariah’s album, and that the musician felt her hubby was being too controlling. She quickly moved on and was in a relationship with Luis Miguel from 1998 to 2000.
17 Her Assistants Spy On Her Boyfriends
We’ve already covered Mariah’s long-list of Diva-ish demands that she has when she goes on tour. But it turns out the celebrity is just as demanding when it comes to her personal life. So, dating her can’t be easy.
Back when she was still with Nick Cannon, a source claimed that the singer actually hires assistants to follow her partner around and keep them in check - which is why it’s not surprising the insider said jealousy was one of the reasons their marriage fell apart.
“Nick told friends that Mariah would get angry when he wouldn’t return calls, and sent assistants to see what he was doing,” the insider told Radar Online. “He was tired of having to answer to Mariah all the time. It was just sad to see, because Nick always used to brag about how amazing his wife was to everyone on the set.”
16 She Says She Doesn't Trust Easily
Mariah has definitely had some difficult relationships in her life. From her absentee father, struggling sister, and tumultuous first marriage, it’s understandable that the singer might have trouble getting close to those in her life. Mariah has actually admitted that she doesn’t trust people very easily.
“Trust is not very easy for me at all. I want to be a trusting person, but I've been bruised so many times - not to sound woe-is-me about my life,” she once explained. Many fans have wondered if this is the reason Mariah has a tendency to get engaged, but not make it to the altar.
15 She Still Has Nightmares About Her Ex-Hubby
No one realized how bad Mariah and Tommy’s relationship was until after their divorce. Since their split, the singer has been very candid about the fact that she felt she had zero freedom in the relationship, which was driving her mad.
"My relationship with my husband was not a physical relationship. It just wasn't. That relationship shaped who I am. It beyond shaped me. I still have nightmares about it,” she once revealed, Business Wire reports.
"Even though I owned that house, the only thing I felt like I owned was my pocketbook. He didn't even know why I always had my bag with me,” she continued. “But in my mind, I thought, 'If something jumps off...I'm ready.' I lived like that for a long time. I used to wish, hope and dream that someone would [free] me."
14 Her Kids Love The Spotlight (Just Like Her)
Back in the ‘90s, us fans could hardly imagine Mariah one day becoming a mother. With her Diva-like antics, it forever seemed like her number one priority would always remain herself. However, Mariah has happily proved us wrong and seems to be nailing this whole parenting thing.
Her ex-husband Nick Cannon admits that their twins are just like her- does this mean they may follow in their mama’s famous footsteps? “They are hams!” he told Us Weekly this year. “They love a camera, they love a microphone. They’re onstage every night with Mariah, and they’ll take over the show if they don’t get their mics [taken] from them.”
13 She Once Upset Human Rights Activists
Mariah has always been one to do her own thing. So fans should’ve known she wouldn’t have listened to the backlash she faced this past February for continuing on with a scheduled concert overseas.
The country in question had been facing widespread media attention for their human rights problems earlier this year, particularly over their refusal to let women drive. Not only did Mariah continue on with the concert, against many fans’ wishes, she also responded to the controversy in a very Mariah-ish way.
It seemed that in this instance, the show had to go on, in the long-popular performer's mind, in any case.
12 She's Always Had Final Say On Her Albums
Many singers (particularly female) have criticized the music industry for not letting artists have as much input in their own songs and albums as they should.
But Mariah has always made it clear that she gets the final say on an album. She may be a Diva, but this celebrity works hard when it comes to putting out music.
”From the demo to the finished songs, we went through a lot of different stages,” she told Entertainment Weekly about making her first album. ”The production got to be a headache. Different drum sounds, different synths, the strings weren’t loud enough.”
11 She Learned Music From Her Parents
Mariah may have had a dysfunctional childhood, but it’s clear that her parents did help her refine her passion for music.
As we mentioned, her mother Patricia was a professionally trained opera singer. She worked at the New York City Opera in the 1960s and also had experience dabbling in folk music and jazz. Mariah says her mother helped teach her the fundamentals of music and exposed to a lot of different genres, never trying to push her into just one.
The singer has also said she developed her love for gospel style music after listening to her older siblings’ R&B records.
10 She Once Sold Her Engagement Ring
Mariah can be quite a gal!
The singer surely wasn’t in need of money when she decided to sell her engagement ring after her relationship with billionaire James Packer went sour in 2016. Nonetheless, rather than returning the rock, Mariah sold it to prove a point (we guess?).
Mariah is said to have been able to get $2.1 million for the ring. The “emotion behind [the ring] was something she didn’t want to hold onto,” a source said, Us Weekly reports. “I was at a low point in my personal life. She was kind, exciting and fun,” James has said of the relationship. “It was a mistake for her and a mistake for me.”
9 She Has A Bad Relationship With Her Sister
Unfortunately, Mariah doesn’t have good relationships with any of her siblings. When the singer’s parents split up, she and her brother lived with their mother while their sister Alison stayed with their dad.
However, Mariah has blamed Alison’s rough lifestyle for pushing them apart. Alison got involved in substances while a teenager. She’s been in and out of institutions battling her addictions and was most recently arrested in 2016.
Last year, while speaking to The Sun, she revealed she was homeless and disowned by her family, including Mariah. Despite making a public plea to her famous sister, it never appeared as though Mariah reached out to her.
8 And Her Brother Thinks She's "Selfish"
In 2016, Mariah Carey’s older brother Morgan went to the media to slam the pop star for her so-called selfish ways. Her criticized Mariah for not being there for their sister Alison when she was arrested.
“Mariah doesn't care about anyone other than herself,” Morgan said, Daily Mail reports. “And it's always been that way. I would hope Mariah could find it in her heart to forgive Alison for her transgressions and step up, create a trust, let’s make sure Alison’s needs are met.”
He also added, “There wouldn’t be a Mariah Carey if it hadn’t been for me.”
7 Her Parents Were Involved In Strange Rituals
Mariah has always remained very private about her personal life, especially about what things were like for her before the fame and fortune. But back in 2018, Mariah’s sister came forward to the media to reveal what it was like to grow up with the now-famous singer. And she said their childhood was anything but perfect.
Alison Carey told The Sun that she and Mariah’s parents were involved with a cult. “It sounds hard to believe and I have so many memories I wish I never had,” she told the publication, adding their parents would take them to the organization’s meetings.
6 Tommy Admits Their Relationship Was Wrong
Fans were a bit weirded out by Mariah’s relationship with Tommy Mottola from the beginning, considering their huge age gap. But photos like this one showed just how in love the former couple seemed to be. However, the exes sing a different tune nowadays. Since their split, both have admitted the marriage was a bad idea.
In his 2013 book Hitmaker: The Man and His Music, Tommy admitted their relationship was "absolutely wrong...” He added, “I’m truly sorry for any discomfort or pain that all of my good intentions inevitably caused her, and most of all for the scars it left on my two oldest children.”
5 Nowadays, She's Known For Her Diva-ish Demands
Anyone who found fame so young is bound to have a bit of an ego. But in Mariah’s case, she seems to have a big one. The singer has amassed herself quite the reputation for being a Diva. And it’s not surprising once you hear about the ridiculous demands when she goes on tour.
“Mariah doesn’t have a problem admitting she likes to be treated like royalty,” a source told Life & Style last November. “And if she isn’t happy with something, everyone knows about it!” Her demands include: “Special furniture has to be ordered, bottles of champagne chilled at just the right temperature, and flowers, costing around $10,000, waiting in her hotel suite.” Yikes!
4 She's Always Had A Spending Problem
Ever since she first became a hitmaker, Mariah has been known for her materialistic ways- including her passion for shopping! Not only did her eye for a good deal get her in trouble when she was young, but reports say it’s one of the reasons her most recent engagements ended.
In 2016, the singer called off her high-profile engagement to billionaire businessman James Packer. At the time, a source told Us Weekly the unlikely couple had been clashing over her “lavish spending.” “He’s not used to that level of spending,” the source said, adding, “It drove him crazy.” How could one person spend so much that it would worry a billionaire?
3 But She Used To Struggle To Pay Rent
Given that Mariah is worth a few million and is routinely seen on shopping sprees, no one expects the celebrity to worry about money nowadays. But there was a time in the singer’s life when she wasn’t always so fortunate.
We’ve already discussed that Mariah’s family struggled financially when she was growing up, especially following her parents’ divorce. But even when the celebrity first got into the music business, she wasn’t making big bucks.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Mariah said when she first moved to New York, she shared an apartment with three other roommates and struggle to pay rent. “I didn’t buy clothing,” she said. “I bought food and paid the rent.”
2 She Has No Contact With Her Family Anymore
Mariah has gone on to have a beautiful family of her own (aka twins Monroe and Moroccan), but many fans may be surprised to know that the singer has no contact with her extended family.
This news came to light last year when her sister Alison Carey claimed the singer has no contact with the family, which had left them in a financial plight. She added that she had recently been up against even harder circumstances and had lost her apartment while in the hospital. Thus far, Mariah hadn’t visited or offered to help her out financially.
“I literally lost everything I owned - when I left the hospital, I had the clothes I was standing up in and that’s it,” Alison told The Sun. “I just can’t afford to pay all my bills. Most months I don't even have enough food stamps to buy enough groceries to last me.
1 Nick Was Mariah's Second Chance At Love
Mariah seemed like she’d met her match in Nick Cannon. The couple married in 2008 after less than a year of dating, and the singer delivered their twins, Moroccan and Monroe, in 2011.
This photo shows the parents-to-be weeks before welcoming their twins. And although the couple once seemed madly in love, they eventually divorced in 2014. Despite their break-up, Mariah and Nick seem to be managing co-parenting extremely well. The exes have even gone on vacation and walked the red carpet together with their kids in tow.
“We got our egos and this selfish behavior [but] when you put your children first, you understand that it’s all unconditional love. All that other stuff just falls apart,” Nick said this year about co-parenting with Mariah.