In Long Island, NY, a child named Mariah Carey was born in March 1970 who would soon become a world-famous American singer in pop/R&B. While performing as a great singer, she’s also known to be a songwriter, actress and record producer. Maria is the 3rd and the youngest in the family of Alfred Carey and Patricia Hickey. Her father works as an aeronautical engineer while her mother used to be a vocal coach and opera singer.
She finished her high school in Harborfields School situated in Greenlawn, New York. In her classes, she was always absent, and because she was working in a local recording studio as a demo singer, her classmates used to call her “Mirage”. It was fortunate for her to have worked in Long Island music studio because it gave her the opportunity to meet well-known musicians, like Ben Margulies and Gavin Christopher.
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Mariah Carey’s Vocal Range
Range: Eb2 – A5 – B7 (C8)
Vocal & Vocal Type: Classified as Coloratura Light Lyric Soprano with range of 5 Octaves, 4 Notes
Maria Carey is undoubtedly one of the most decorated artists of this age. Her reputation in the music industry is all because of the extraordinary musical capabilities she has. The renowned artist has a diverse voice, and she can sing to portray virtually any mood. Mariah Carey’s vocal range is one of a kind; she can sing through five octaves (G#2-G#7) and four notes of a soprano. Her longest recorded notes go for a whopping twenty seconds in her hit song “Lead the Way“.
You don’t have to take music classes to notice the beauty that lies in the voice of Mariah Carey. She has been described as a brilliant singer and many times I feel that is an understatement. She is the rare kind of singers and among the few that have exploited their talents to near maximum. In many of her recordings and performances, Carey goes from a high octave and drops to a couple of octaves without doing a gradual transition. She does not always the vocal runs like other singers, but when she does, they come out so accurate like she was programmed to do music alone. With these amazing gift, could you dispute that she is the queen of melisma? I wouldn’t.
Let’s take a look at the parts of Mariah Carey’s vocal range. Although she spans five octaves with little strain, her low range turns out to be the weakest part of her range. The low parts of Mariah Carey’s vocal range are dark and thick. Her midrange is slightly thick, and this is evident in her album ‘Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel’. Mariah Carey’s belting voice−more so the lower half −is perhaps her best. It has a bright timbre, and it comes out with elasticity. As she goes up the belting register, the timbre thins out, but its clarity is not altered. The singer uses voice cracks well to elaborate emotions.
To mimic the singing of Mariah Carey, you might have to put in some more effort. Notably, the star sings within a particular register for long without undergoing vocal fatigue. Listen to ‘See Angels Cry’ and you will notice how enduring her voice is. Mariah Carey can hit high notes but what’s more important is that even at those high points, she still articulates the words amazingly well. What’s more, Mariah Carey can transition softly from head to whistle, chest to head and chest to whistle in a short time.
Mariah Carrey’s Achievements With Her 5 Octaves Vocal Range
Her ability in writing songs was enhanced by working with these great musicians with whom she co-wrote lyrics of songs for her demo tape. Upon her transfer to NY City, Mariah Carey accepted part-time jobs in order to settle her rent, and at that time, she was able to complete 500 hours of study in a beauty school.
Then, she was taken as a back-up singer for the popular freestyle singer named Brenda Starr from Puerto Rico. Mariah is known to possess a kind of vocal range that is in 5-octave level, and as such, she ranked 1st in the list of 22 Greatest Voices by Blender magazine and MTV based on the votes cast by readers and fans in an online countdown way back 2003.
In 1990, Mariah Carey released her debut record under the supervision of the executive producer, Tommy Mottola of Columbia Records. She then became the 1st recording artist to come-out with her 1st 5 singles that topped the U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 music chart. In 1993, after she married Mottola, a group of records that she made became a hit which gave her the recognition of being the top-selling singer of Columbia Records.
However, after she separated with Mottola sometime in 1997, and attempted to promote the hip-hop elements into her album which gained an initial success, her popularity declined beginning in 2001. Then, she signed a contract involving an $80 million deal with Virgin Records, but eventually dropped from its label which prompted her to make her contract void the following year.
The unfavorable fast turn-over of events in Mariah Carey’s music career was caused by her highly-publicized emotional and physical breakdown, and the poor rating that her soundtrack project in the movie entitled Glitter has received. She was offered to sign a contract with Island Records way back 2002, and after experiencing a quite unsuccessful outcome, she was able to return to the limelight in 2005 after the release of her album entitled The Emancipation of Mimi.
Her entire music career which spanned in more than 2 decades gave her success in selling over 200 million copies of her albums, videos and singles worldwide, based on Island Def Jam listing, which made Mariah Carey a top-selling music artist in the world.
Because of such popularity, Carey’s voice has been the matter of extensive scrutiny from all kinds of music critics who think that she doesn’t and can’t convey the expected message of the songs quite effectively. The Rolling Stone magazine said “Carey has a remarkable vocal gift, but unfortunately her singing has been far more impressive rather than expressive.”
On the other hand The New York Daily News once wrote, “Carey’s singing is ultimately what does her in.”
But for Mariah Carey, vocalizing means performance and not the sentiments those inspired it. But the question is: does having the great voice only can make you such a great singing artist like Carey automatically?
About Mariah Carey’s Singing Voice
Though some critics said that Maria’s decision to employ what she called “breathy” vocals in some of her last decade’s songs and that her voice was weakening, but for Mariah Carey “it has been here all along”. Finally regardless of the critics’ opinions, it’s the matter of further study on how to sing like Mariah Carey.
As the VIBE Magazine once said on Mariah’s vocal style, “The impressiveness of her voice—as well as her tendency to over sing—make the blandness of her material all the more flagrant.” That’s the uniqueness of vocal range of Mariah Carey.
There was a time that Mariah Carey revealed that she felt like getting pregnant has helped her improve her vocals, according to Associated Press. She said that pregnancy made her voice in great shape.
Based on the statements of medical practitioners, sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone have an effect to your voice. As proof of that, you’ll notice a sudden change in a boy’s vocal during his puberty stage. This can also be felt with women whose quality of voice may have some changes when they are in the periods of menstruation, pregnancy, menopausal or breastfeeding.
Shifts in hormone cause some changes in your larynx, according to information gathered from the University of Iowa. Your blood vessels dilate and your tissues control the fluid, resulting to an increase in vocal fold bulk. Here, your vocal folds create a different way of vibration, thus making the way you speak and sing more forceful.
So far, there is little account on the effect of pregnancy to the singing voice, but a study was conducted in 2011 according to the Journal of Voice. Researchers tracked the status of vocals belonging to some trained singers on their last twelve weeks of pregnancy, and eleven weeks after birth.
Their progesterone and estrogen levels were also studied during that time. What the researchers found out was a manifestation of decrease in their vocal brightness.
Critics of Mariah Carey’s Voice
It has been said that Mariah Carey set a record by reaching G#7 which is higher than her recorded peak. Carey was likened to a dolphin which is the only mammal capable of reaching such a peak. Several sources claimed that Mariah Carey was in the Guinness world book of records for this. However, Guinness World Book of Records still maintains that Georgia Brown is the singer with the greatest vocal range, from G#2 to G#10. This hasn’t gone down well with Mariah Carey’s fans who claim that their idol can hit F7.
Mariah Carey’s vocal range is just smaller than Axl Rose’s, but it’s higher than Christina Aguillera’s. She is no doubt a talent that makes contemporary music worth listening.