Avril Lavigne biography

Monday, June 9, 2008

Avril Ramona Lavigne was born in Napanee, Ontario, to parents Judy and John on September 27th, 1984. She was the middle child. She has a brother names Matthew who's 19 years old and a younger sister Michelle, 14. But she was always the feisty one and spent most of her school years getting into trubble. Even as a teen at Napanee District High School, despite being one of the smallest in her class (5''1'), she was always getting into scrapes. "I got into lots of fights," she admits. "If someone was picking on one of my friends, I'd go bithc them out. I wasn't a fighter, but I don't take any crap. Avril's strong character meant shewasn't always popular with her classmates. "The funny thing is," she smiles "people used to be intimidated by me. I don't know why. It's weird - the group you hang out with and the clothes you wear can scare people. My teachers hated me because I never did my work and never paid attention in class." But itwasn't just Avril's teachers who were angry with her, trouble at school made her parents mad, which meant she was always grounded. "I was rebellious towards my parents, but we're cool now," Avril reveals. "I was always in trouble. I was never allowed to do anything after school so I'd go to my room and write." And that's where Avril's musicwas born, being grounded gave her the time (and inspiration) to write her first album, Let Go.

Avril had been into music since the age of 2, performing in localmusicals, village fairs and, thanks to devout Christian family, at church. Until theage of 12 she'd just been a singer, but she decided she wanted more. So she taught herself to play guitar, andfound a new way of making her parents proud, too. "I taught myself on my dad's guitar," she says. "I started writing lines here and there and they grew into songs. I did it on my own, but my parents supported me," she smiles.

It wasn't long before Avril had her first taste of fame. At the age of 14, singing contest in Canada's capital, Ottawa. She won and appeared on stage as part of her prize (alongside Shania Twain in front of 10.000 people.) It was then that she knew that she could do it, she knew she had something special, so she started to chase her dream. Determinded to be a star, Avril sent a home video of herself singing karaoke to Peter Zizzo, an American songwriter/producer. He was so impressed he invited the ambitious 16 year old on a songwriting trip to New York. Everyone loved her and she was immediately signed to Arista Records, kome of Pink and Usher. Avril's dream was coming true, so she dropped out of school and moved to New York to work on her debut album. But living the dream was scarier than tough- kid Avril had thought. "The city is nuts. It was crazy learning subway on my way to the studio every day," she says, "But I was glad to be doing something productive." After a year working hard Avril had finished her first album, Let Go. "My lyrics are honest and I write about whatever happens to me," she says. "my song Losing Grip means a lot to me, it's about my ex-boyfriend. We weren't meeting on a emotional level and he wasn't giving me what I needed. I can still play the same songs and get mad and get my anger out. It's therapeutic and I hope I can help others in a similar situation." But it wasn't all plain- rocking. Avril'sfeisty self-belief caused problems, too. "I worked with a ton of people, and fought with most of them," she explains. "I'd go on writing trips, meets lots of musicians and write one song and be like, 'Screw this. I'm not working with that person.' Sometimes, just because of my age, they didn't want to hear what I had to say. I probably just gave them attitude if they weren't listening. I'm a little fighter and I stand up for what I believe."

Avril also ran into trouble because she refused to be manufactured by the record company. As she'd said all along, she just wanted to be herself. So she refused to do what she told to say, or even wear. "I'm not a fucking product, I'm a human. There are times when I go to photoshoots and there are racks of clothes and I'mlike 'No I'm not wearing any of that," Avril says. "People try to get me to wear high-heeled shoes and cute little shirts and I'm like 'No! It's tempting, girls like to look pretty, but I'm not like that. It's really important that, when I'm on camera I dress and act the way I normally would. I just want to be myself. I don't want to act like someone I'm not.I want the world to know who I really am. I'm sick of people being fake, and two-faced."

The great thing is, despite her success, fame hasn't changed Avril at all. "I just think that the way people treat me sometimes is just, like, weird". "It's like they think I'm made up of plastic or something. I was walking down the hall one time, and this guy was yelling 'Move out ofmy way',at everyoneso I could walk through. I was like, fucking shut up! I don't deserve to be treated any more special than other people." So, forget Jenny from the block, this is one down-to-earth girl who'll still be keeping it real when she's on her 10th album. And Avril's determinded to stick around for a long time. "I want a very long career.I'm only 18 so I'm growing and becoming who I am, and I change all the time. But I want to be around for a while yet and make tons of different albums."

Rihanna biography

If nothing else, it has been an eventful and eye opening year for Barbados born songstress Rihanna. In addition to recording one of the most popular singles of 2005, the hypnotic "Pon De Replay" (which bass bumped out of more car windows while igniting a slew of barbeques last summer), she won over the masses with her charming Bajan persona.

"So much has happened in my life, I feel like I've grown five years in a year," she gushes. No doubt, by the time Def Jam Records released Rihanna's debut album Music of the Sun, it was obvious that this young woman was more than a one-hit wonder. With a work ethic reminiscent of Motown sisters back in the day when soul reigned supreme, Rihanna traveled throughout the world.

2005 saw Rihanna rocking the mic on tour with Gwen Stefani, making crowds sweat in Japan, posing for magazine covers in Los Angeles and shooting her first film role for Bring It On Yet Again. This was a long way from the quiet life she led in Barbados in the parish of St.Michael. Robyn Rihanna Fenty has come through her musical initiation process unscathed. And now she is poised for everything that 2006 may hold as she readies to do it again with her sophomore release A Girl Like Me.

"I grew up so much this past year. I had no choice. To pursue my dreams, and with their support, I left my entire family in Barbados to move to the States. It was a little scary to have no friends or family and all of a sudden step into a recording studio," recalled Rihanna.

"2005 taught me the dedication and responsibility it takes to make this dream a reality. Waking up at 5:00 am to start rehearsals, the training, the schoolwork, interviews, video shoots, going all day; it always seemed glamorous but it is real work. My love for music and singing will never change but the rose colored glasses are no longer so rosy."

"Many times over the past year, I didn't have anyone my age with me. When recording this album, I wanted it to seem like I was having a personal conversation with girls my age," says the eighteen-year-old singer. "People think, because we're young, we aren't complex, but that's not true. We deal with life and love and broken hearts in the same way a woman a few years older might. My goal on A Girl Like Me was to find songs that express the many things young women want to say, but might not know how."

Dropping from the harmonic heavens to the groovalistic dance floor, Rihanna has returned with another single that will have listeners begging the d.j. to play it one more time. Produced by Jason Rotem, the sizzling "S.O.S." is bringing the summer heat early this year. With its hypnotic beat and enticing melody, "S.O.S." utilizes the electro-funk of Soft Cell's '80s classic "Tainted Love" to create a soulful anthem of young love.

"I got excited when I first heard this track and three days later, it was recorded," Rihanna says. Turning heads with its rebel sound, "S.O.S." has been used as the theme song for their NIKE latest women's line, which can be viewed on NikeWomen.com. "Making that commercial was yet another new experience," she says. "It took six days to shoot, but working with choreographer Jamie King (Madonna and Shakira) was amazing."

Focusing on progressing as an artist, Rihanna has recorded a compelling track of heartbreak called "Unfaithful." Penned by her label-mate Ne-Yo and Stargate, the song documents the tragic decay of a relationship when another person starts cheating.

Yet, in this instance, it is the girl who has strayed. "On a lot of records, men talk about cheating as though it's all a game. For me, 'Unfaithful' is not just about stepping out on your man, but the pain that it causes both parties."

Perhaps the most surprising track is the rock meets island vibe of "Kisses Don't Lie." Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, the principles of her production company, SRP, used a mixture of Caribbean elements, electric guitar and a mesmerizing bassline." Coming from Barbados, I really hadn't heard that much rock music," Rihanna confesses. "Touring with Gwen changed my perspective. So, when I was discussing this project with L.A. Reid, Chairman of Island Def Jam Records, I made sure to say I want to experiment with some rock."

During the recording of A Girl Like Me, Rihanna jet set down to Jamaica to record with Sean Paul on the yardie duet "Break It Off." Smiling, Rihanna explains, "I have so much respect and love for Sean Paul. He took me to visit the Bob Marley Museum before going into the studio, which was an amazing experience. When we finally got to the studio, I felt as though Marley's spirit was in the room with us."

With A Girl Like Me, the beautiful singer proves that her breakthrough was no fluke. After selling 1 million copies worldwide of her debut Music Of The Sun, once again, the summer belongs to Rihanna.

Metallica biography

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's the sort of story that scriptwriters would get laughed out of conference rooms for entering. The sort of story that illustrates perfect synchronicity between hunger, passion and time. The sort of story that only happens every 30-odd years. And the sort of story that would approximately 500 pages to do it true justice.

Metallica. A household name. The 7th biggest selling act in American history.

Who'd have thought it when, on October 28th, 1981, drummer Lars Ulrich made guitar player/singer James Hetfield an offer he couldn't refuse: "I’ve got a track saved for my band on Brian Slagel's new Metal Blade label."

The truth is, Lars didn't have a band at that time, but he did that day when James joined him. The two recorded their first track on a cheap recorder with James performing singing duties, rhythm guitar duties and bass guitar duties. Lars dutifully pounded the drums, helped with musical arrangements and acted as manager. Hetfield's friend and housemate Ron McGovney was eventually talked into taking up bass and Dave Mustaine took lead guitar duties.

The band adopted the moniker Metallica after a suggestion from Bay Area friend Ron Quintana, and they quickly began gigging in the Los Angeles area opening for bands like Saxon. Eventually recording a fully-fledged demo called No Life Til Leather, Metallica quickly saw the tape whistle around the metal tape-trading underground and become a hot commodity, with San Francisco and New York particularly receptive.

Metallica performed 2 shows in San Francisco and found the crowds friendlier and more honest than LA's "there to be seen" mob. They also caught up-and-coming band Trauma, and most importantly their bass player, Cliff Burton. Cliff refused to move to Southern California: it was enough to convince Metallica to relocate to the Bay Area, and Cliff subsequently joined Metallica.

In New York, a copy of No Life Til Leather made its way to Jon Zazula's record shop, the aptly named Metal Heaven. Zazula quickly recruited Metallica to come out east to play some shows and record an album. The band made it to New York in a stolen U-Haul. Dave Mustaine, at that point the band's guitarist, was proving to be more problematic than even these loose young chaps could handle. Thus a few weeks after arrival, Mustaine was sent packing, roadie Mark Whitakker suggesting Kirk Hammett from Bay Area thrashers Exodus. Two phone calls and one flight later, on April 1, 1983 Kirk Hammett joined Metallica.

Metallica's first album, Kill 'Em All, was released in late 1983 and some ferocious touring which saw the band's reputation soar both in the US and Europe. In 1984 they went to work with producer Flemming Rassmussen in Copenhagen at Sweet Silence Studios on their second album. 'Ride The Lightning' proved that Metallica were not some thrash-in-the-pan one trick pony, the writing and sound illustrating a growth, maturity and intensity which saw them immediately targeted by major management in QPrime, and a major label in Elektra. Both deals were done by the fall of '84 and their reputation continued to grow worldwide.

Returning to the same studios in 1985, the group recorded 'Master Of Puppets', mixing in LA with Michael Wagner and releasing in early 1986. They quickly secured a tour with Ozzy Osbourne, and that stint (plus a top 30 album chart position) saw their fan base and name take a quantum leap. What had seemed so unlikely was nearer than ever to coming true; world domination.

On September 27th, 1986, that dream was given the most shattering of blows. Somewhere in Sweden on an overnight drive, the bands' tour bus skidded out of control and flipped, killing Cliff Burton. His influence on the musical growth of the band was enormous. Burton combined the DIY philosophies of jamming and experimenting with an acute knowledge of musical theory, and Hetfield in particular found a lot in his playing and personality. It was impossible to imagine Metallica without him. Yet Cliff would equally not have cared for people throwing in the towel because he wasn't around. And so it was that after a brief yet intense mourning period, Lars, James and Kirk decided to fight on. Jason Newsted was chosen from over 40 auditions to be the new bassist, the Michigan-born four-stringer leaving Arizona based Flotsam & Jetsam to take on the chance of a lifetime. The quartet immediately jumped into a tour, and then quickly recorded an EP of cover tunes titled Garage Days Re-Revisited (the band literally did the dirty work in Lars' garage!).

With Jason fully established, the band went back to record their fourth full-length album, ...And Justice For All, released in August 1988. The explosion that had been threatening for sometime finally happened. It reached #6 on the US charts, received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal/Hard Rock album, the band blew headliners Van Halen off-stage during the Monsters Of Rock tour and subsequently embarked upon an enormous worldwide tour. It was even the moment they finally delved into video territory, although the footage for 'One' was most certainly the most 'anti' video video of it's era.

The band took the show back out on the road and toured extensively to all parts of the world. ...And Justice For All produced two US singles and the band's very first venture into music video for the song One.

In 1991 Metallica released the self-titled 'Black' album, and saw their popularity soar to stratospheric heights. With new producer Bob Rock, this album was a subtle departure from the previous album with shorter songs, a fuller sound and simpler arrangements. It went straight to number one all over the world, stayed there for several weeks and ended up selling in excess of 15 million copies worldwide, spawned several legitimate singles as well as earning a Grammy and MTV/ American Music Awards. The band toured for close to three years, playing a solo arena tour in 'An Evening With Metallica', with Guns N' Roses on the duos' joint-headline stadium tour, and as headliner at many festivals. It meant that by the time the fall of 1993 rolled around, the four members were shattered both physically and mentally. Save for some Summer Shed action, there was little major activity as the band allowed their real lives to catch up with their rock lives.

Nearly four years would pass before the next Metallica album saw the light. Called Load, and recorded at The Plant in Sausalito California, it was the longest Metallica album to date with 14 songs, and signaled some significant changes for the band. Produced by Bob Rock, the material was loose, powerful and eclectic, the sound thick and punchy and the image one which screamed out change and freedom from enslavement to the Black album era. So many songs came from the sessions, that a second album titled ReLoad, followed in 1997. The Load tour was spectacular, encompassing cutting-edge technology, stuntmen, two-stages and an epic two-plus hours of performance. What ever doubts people might have had were swiftly blown away, and whilst Load could never match the heights of the Black album sales wise, it became a phenomenally successful album in it's own right.

In 1998, they re-packaged all the old B-sides, covers and the two previous Garage Days sessions and ran into The Plant to slam down 11 new covers. Electric, exciting and raw, the double-disc Garage Inc. was great reminder that for all the success, Metallica's heart still lay in the music. This point was further proven in 1999, when with conductor/composer Michael Kamen, Metallica embarked upon collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony to bring new dimension to classic material. Any potential skepticism of the project was blown away by two nights in April at the Berkeley Community Theater which proved to be epic milestones in the group's history. Far from their material being compromised, the arrangements of songs such as 'Master Of Puppets' gave symphonic instruments the chance to explode into the spaces and fill them with greater, heavier power than ever before. Having recorded and filmed the shows on the off-chance it might turn out alright on the night, Metallica released the S&M double-disc and DVD in late '99, marking yet another significant chapter in a Hall Of Fame - like history.

In the summer of 2000, Metallica took yet fresher steps towards establishing freedom from convention, proving that it was possible to assemble, and headline, your own stadium tour without promoting a record. Summer Sanitarium, Hetfield's back not withstanding, was a huge success, and anticipation grew as to when the band would hit the studio again.

The anticipation was replaced by fear at the turn of 2001 when, after several rumors, Jason Newsted departed the band. No one reason can be fairly the cause, more several long-standing issues that silently grew beyond their initial molehills. Of course many assumed that this would precipitate the break-up of the band, when of course it merely provided a conduit to newer levels of creativity and understanding.

The band realized there was much work to be done on both their personal and creative relationships, and spent the first part of 2001 investigating spontaneous avenues of discovery both in and out of the studio. They set up shop at an old ex-Army barracks called The Presidio, jammed together at length and made a decision not to rush the process of finding a new band member, opting instead to have producer Bob Rock do all bass parts.

In the middle of 2001, James Hetfield reached a place in his life where he felt rehabilitation, rest and re-focus were necessary for him to not only continue but also flourish. It meant that for many months, the members of Metallica embarked upon various levels of deeper discovery about themselves, the band and their lives both as a band and human beings. The results were to manifest themselves two-fold: when they came together again in the Spring of 2002 there was a deeper respect and appreciation for each other than ever before. And they were finally ready to make a new album, free of outside expectations, free of inner expectations and independent of anyone.

Settling into their new HQ, the band set about making 'St Anger' with Bob Rock. Those early Presidio sessions had certainly helped shape the freeform thinking and expression that was to come, but no-one, least of all the guys themselves, could've known just how fierce, raw and passionate the 'St Anger' material would turn out to be. With Rock always offering prompt and support, lyrics were written by everyone, writing was shared and performance was off the cuff, spontaneous and a 180 degree turn from the months of cut-and-paste which had become a part of the Metallirecording process in the past.

This Metallica was proud, confident, appreciative, humble, hungry, edgy, angry and also happy. Nervous? Sure, a little bit, but that too was good, yet another driver to new places and creative achievements that Metallica were enjoying.

It was in the Fall of 2002 that the band decided it was time to search for a new bassist, and after some closed auditions with personal invitees over a few months, ex-Suicidal Tendencies/Ozzy Osbourne bass player Robert Trujillo was chosen to be the new member of Metallica. Note, member. Not bassist or hired gun or replacement. But a band member. His whole demeanor, happy, relaxed, warm, enthusiastic blended with over 15 years of experience and a ferocious finger-picking style made Robert the only natural choice.

And so it is that as you read this, 'St Anger' has been completed, expectations are reaching heights that even the band cannot believe and there is the excitement of the first proper tour since Summer Sanitarium 2000. Looking at them, listening to them and seeing them, Lars, Kirk, Robert and James look like excited, eager children, men who cannot wait to be let out of then house to go and wreak aural havoc. Why? Because they can't! Metallica are about to hit a whole new level...and this is a story that will most DEFINITELY be continued...

…the “St.Anger” era kicked off on April 30th/May 1st with the small matter of a video shoot at San Quentin prison for the same-titled track, and continued in earnest with an MTV Icons tribute show a week later, where peers such as Korn and Limp Bizkit lined up to pay tribute to the chaps. The guys also performed live, marking the first ‘official’ live appearance of Robert Trujillo (and the last in which he wore long trousers!) as well as James Hetfield’s first public performance since his stint in rehab.

Then came the small matter of rehearsals…which Metallica chose to do in front of their loyal fan club members over 4 nights at the historic Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco…and then it was off to Europe in June for the start of what would end up being 19 months of touring, with the festival circuit taking the early brunt, Metallica successfully playing to multiple 60,000-plus crowds. “St.Anger” saw it’s release on June 5th, a raw, feral, unrestrained slab of molten Metallica stuffed with abrasion, aggression and the overspill of four years excitement, anger, frustration and ultimate fruition. For those who thought it would signal a radio-hohned band, “St.Anger” was a big, fat slap in the face. Indeed, it was actually too heavy for some! Oh, and as if to prove that this ‘new’ Metallica were not a bunch of ginger-snap panty-waists, the boys played three shows in three different Parisian clubs in one day during mid-June, each venue harboring a temperature of not less than 100 degrees.

In the US, Summer Sanitarium followed, with Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit amongst the support acts on another series of stadium sell-outs. In the meanwhile, the fervor was slowly building for ‘Some Kind Of Monster’, the documentary film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the world of Metallica between 2001 and 2003. Ostensibly slated to be about the making of an album, the filmmakers found a whole new project developing when James went into rehab, and thus having been projected as a marketing tool, the end product ended up being an incredibly revealing 2 hour 20 minute documentary.

As the Mighty Metallica continued ploughing on through the world (going back to Europe, Japan and then onto Australia in January), SKOM was debuted to enormous critical acclaim at the 2004 Sundance Independent Film Festival in Utah during January.

And the year continued in the way that you’d imagine a Metalli-year does, deciding to play (seemingly) every single town capable of hosting a major arena gig in North America (some 80-plus dates) with Godsmack in support. Result? Oh well, the usual sell-outs you’d expect for this ‘in-the-round’ two hour thirty minute set which saw no song off limits and many a fan favorite raised from retirement for a gleeful airing. (p.s….there was another Grammy in February for Best Metal Performance – ‘St.Anger’).

July saw the theatrical debut of ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ which opened to enormous critical acclaim and went on to hold it’s own in North American theaters for three months before going through Europe. And August also saw the release of the first official Metallica book, “So What! The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly”, an edited compilation of the band’s fan club magazine spanning 10 years from 1994 to 2004.

And still the ‘Madly In Anger With The World’ tour continued, selling out venues right through to it’s final date in San Jose, California on November 29, 2004…

A busy spell? By many’s standards most certainly.

By Metallica’s?

Business as usual.

They did publicly state that the majority of 2005 would be spent re-charging those creative and mental batteries, and true to their word it was a quiet year, except for two little hometown gigs with the Rolling Stones at SBC Park in November. We all knew an entire year would not pass without at least a sighting of the guys!

With batteries re-charged after the two shows with the Stones, the guys hit the studio in early 2006 to start writing a new album and were excited to announce that they would be working with a new producer, Rick Rubin. The spring and summer found them escaping from the studio once again with shows in South Africa (their first ever visit to the continent!), Europe, Japan and Korea. “The New Song” made its debut in Berlin, Germany on June 6 to give us all a little taste of things to come in 2007 with the remainder of the year scheduled for more writing and jamming.

Kelly Clarkson biography

Thursday, June 5, 2008

When we first met her, Kelly Clarkson was new at her job. But what a difference two years can make. Her new-found confidence is more than evident on her second RCA Records Label release, “Breakaway,” named after the mega radio hit (No. 1 on all Top 40 radio outlets) Billboard Magazine acknowledged Clarkson’s development with a review of her new single, “Since U Been Gone.” It read in part, “This is an utterly ideal showcase for Clarkson. There's glorious tempo, enough edge to rattle the speakers, a relentless, big-game hook -- and it's a huge leap forward for the entertainer as a more confident, ever-maturing vocalist.”

“Breakaway” follows Clarkson’s first album, “Thankful,” which is certified double-platinum by the RIAA. That No. 1 album included her single “A Moment Like This,” which set the record for the biggest leap to the top in the history of the Hot 100 when it rocketed 52-1. “Thankful” also includes the top 10 hit “Miss Independent” which made her a 2004 Grammy nominee for Best Female Pop Vocal, and the radio hits “Low” and “The Trouble With Love Is,” from the soundtrack to “Love Actually.”

“I had a lot of time to work on this album, and I had the past two years to write stuff. A lot of the songs on the album I wrote way before we went into the studio.” Kelly Clarkson is discussing her latest album, Breakaway, a record that is the next step in the singer’s artistic evolution. The album has more of a “rock” sound than her debut, an influence that had been creeping into Kelly’s music ever since her first major tour: “Even the songs from my first album that weren’t so ‘rock,’ I sang them in that style live, because it made them more fun to sing. So, this time, we ended up making more of a rock-pop album.”

The album got its start on Kelly’s one-month break after the tour for her debut album, Thankful, came to a close. Most people in any walk of life would love to take a month off from their careers. But Kelly Clarkson isn’t “most people,” and it wasn’t long before she was looking ahead to her next record.

Clarkson has writing credit on six songs on the new album, including “Because of You” and “Addicted,” which she collaborated on with Ben Moody and David Hodges, formerly of Evanescence. “The songs with David and Ben were the most fun to record,” she says, “because I was involved in every little thing, like sitting in on the string section. Ben and David are very opposite from each other, so each of us brought something different to the songs.

On her latest album, Breakaway, what she wanted was to follow her artistic impulses. More than simply a great singer, Kelly Clarkson is also a writer and an artist with a vision for her work… all of which comes through on Breakaway. What follows is her thoughts on each track on the album.

“Breakaway”: written by M. Gerrerd, B. Benante, A. Lavigne. “I’ve done country music, I’ve done pop, I’ve done gospel… all of my singles have sounded different. But this song was different from everything I’ve done; people didn’t even know it was me!” “‘Breakaway’ is a simple song, and I think that it’s simplicity is what’s beautiful about it. Whenever writers or producers come to work with me, they take advantage of the fact that I can really belt it out. What’s cool about ‘Breakaway’ is that it doesn’t take advantage of that. The song just uses the simplicity of my voice.”

“It was co-written by Avril Lavigne. She’s very talented. I don’t think you have to write everything that you sing. I could relate to the song, it describes how I got into the business, verbatim. I did grow up in a small town, I wanted to get out, I felt like there was something… not better for me, but something different for me. I didn’t feel like I fit in at school. Whether you are a DJ, or if you work with computers, or if you’re a teacher, everyone has that point where they feel, ‘I’m bored and this isn’t what I wanted to do with my life.’”

“Since U Been Gone”: Writen by Max Martin and the co-writer of the song, Lukasz Gottwald “Rock music can be very ‘in your face’ like Janis Joplin or Aerosmith, it’s not as ‘smooth’ as pop or R&B. It’s very emotional. Vocally, it can be a lot more challenging. ‘Since U Been Gone’ is very fun to play live.”

“This song was produced by Max Martin, who is known for stuff he’s done with the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, he’s done a lot of great music with them. But the sad thing about the music industry is that people get pigeonholed. He got boxed into that ‘pop’ thing, because he is so great at it. But he wanted to spread his wings, and do something more in the rock direction. He wasn’t sure he wanted to work with me, because he didn’t want to do pop. It turns out that I said the same thing about him. Then we realized that we both wanted to rock! So, it worked out really well.”

“Behind These Hazel Eyes”: written by Clarkson with Max Martin and Lukas “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. “I wrote ‘Behind The Hazel Eyes’ about my last boyfriend. It’s the last song I wrote for the album, I almost didn’t make the deadline. I’m not too worried about people knowing whom these songs are about. I’m a normal 22 year old girl, and if someone breaks my heart, I’m gonna write about it. I’m putting out my diary basically. It’s a very personal thing. Putting out this record was a bit nerve racking at first. I feel like I’m saying to the world, ‘Please don’t reject me, please like my songs! (laughs)’ It was therapeutic for me, I love the record, but I hope people like the songs! There is a lot of stuff on the album that’s related to breakups. Although there’s a lot of songs that people think are about breakups, but they’re not.”

“Because Of You”: written by Clarkson, Ben Moody, & David Hodges. “’Because Of You’ isn’t about breakups, it’s about my family. It is about growing up in a broken home. My parents were together for 17 years or so, and then all of the sudden, something went wrong. But I’ve talked to lots of friends who have seen domestic violence in their homes; I didn’t. But if you see those things as a child, you see a family member cheating or people not trusting each other or people not communicating with each other, that effects you. You end up afraid to trust people, because you think you’re going to get screwed over. Me and a friend of mine were up late one night talking about our lives, and it led to this song. I wrote it when I was 16, my friend was having a really hard time with her family. It was a different situation than mine, but I could relate to what she was going through. My parents were together for a long time, and suddenly one thing happens, and it’s over. That could happen to me. It made me feel like, why would I want to open up and trust someone? I know that it’s a childish way to look at it; life is a risk, and anything worth having is worth taking a risk for, but I wrote it when I was 16. I have learned a lot since then. At the same time, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still relate. I was 6 when my parents got divorced. I used to be the most closed off person. I didn’t want to get hurt. I had been messed over by friends, and I had been through a lot with my family. I didn’t pity myself, but I did put a wall up. I’m smarter now, but I have a good relationship with God, and that’s gotten better over the years. That’s why I’ve gotten smarter about situations. I’m a very trusting person now. I’m not going to let people screw me over left and right, but at the same time I’m not going to close myself off. That’s a big step for me.”

“The whole record isn’t about breakups, but you can relate lots of it to breakups. I don’t mind if people do think it’s all about breakups. That’s what I think is great about art. You can interpret it any way you want to. Some people will take that and think that a song reaches out to them. With ‘Low’ on my last record, I get a lot of fan mail about that song, and everyone has different interpretations of what they think it’s about. And I think that’s phenomenal.”

“Gone”: written by Kara Dioguardi & John Shanks. “It is a very feisty song. (Producer) John Shanks wrote that with Kara DioGuardi, Kara co-wrote a lot of the songs on the album, she wrote some songs with me. I believe that she co-wrote a lot of Ashlee Simpson’s songs too. She’s an emotional writer.”

“If someone writes a great song, and I haven’t experienced what the lyrics are describing, it’s like acting; you just put yourself in those shoes. I’m only 22, there’s a lot for me to experience in my life. If I think a song will touch people and it needs to be heard, I’ll sing the song. ‘Some Kind Of Miracle’ from my last record was written by Diane Warren, and I just think it’s a beautiful song. Even though I cannot relate to what the song is about, I’ve never been in love like that. I’ve loved people, but not like that. But I thought that song should be heard. And I felt the same way about this song.”

“Addicted”: written by Clarkson, Ben Moody, & David Hodges. “I had been holding on to ‘Because Of You’ and ‘Addicted’ for a while. I am in love with those two songs, the lyrics and the melodies, they are two of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written. I wanted to work on them with someone as passionate about music as I am. And then I heard that Evanescence record… I loved their record because of the passion behind it. I asked my management, ‘Who made that record? I want to work with them on these two songs that I’ve written.’ It ended up being Ben Moody and David Hodges. I met with Ben first, I didn’t even know that he had left Evanescence. But he fell in love with ‘Because Of You.’ That’s what matters, I wanted him to love the music. I was like, ‘Dude, if you don’t like the songs, just let me know, we can write some new stuff, or you don’t have to work with me at all.’ It worked out really, really well.”

“Where Is Your Heart”: written by Clarkson, Chantal Kreviazuk, & Kara Dioguardi … my A&R guy said, ‘I have this writer named Chantal, I think you would write really well with her.’ We connected right away. A lot of women writers, I think, are very emotional. This song is not a schmaltzy ballad, it’s more like Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’”

“The guy I wrote ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes’ about, I wrote ‘Where Is Your Heart’ about. He was wanting me to get really into our relationship, and I just thought, ‘Where are you in our relationship?’ If I date someone, I would have to date a guy who isn’t intimated by my job and how busy I am, and who isn’t ‘needy.’ I can’t handle someone who is insecure about our relationship. If I tell you ‘I like you,’ I mean it, I’m not lying. If I didn’t like you, I would walk away, that’s just how I am. I can’t deal with someone who constantly needs reassurance.”

“Chantal’s husband, Raine Maida, from a Canadian rock band called Our Lady Peace plays guitar on the song. We recorded the song at her house, we were playing ping-pong, and she just asked him to play on the record. They are both really passionate about music. They also worked with Avril Lavigne on her record. And they like working with me – and Avril – because we can sing. As a writer, if I was going to give someone a song I didn’t use on this record… I didn’t write for people who can’t sing.”

“Walk Away”: written by Clarkson, Chantal Kreviazuk, Raine Maida & Kara Dioguardi “It’s very blunt and to the point. ‘I’m done with you, you’re upsetting me.’ It’s very in your face, and very raw. You want to sing it right to someone’s face. It’s a fun song to sing live. I really want it to be a single so I can make a video. It’s my ‘Annie Lennox’-type song. I adore Annie Lennox, that’s what I aspire to be. I met her at a benefit, she was so sweet. Luckily, all the people I grew up admiring, when I’ve met them, they’ve been really great people.”

“You Found Me”: writen by Kara Dioguardi & John Shanks “Actually, the album is a very great representation of the past six months of my life. That song and ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Gone’ I recorded in the same day. I recorded it actually before I even went to LA to do the album. I took time off from my vacation to record these songs. I got bored! When I recorded this one, I was actually in a good place with a guy! It was very fitting at the time that I recorded it. I was like ‘Yay!’ at the time. Each song on the album I could totally relate to at the time.”

“I Hate Myself For Losing You”: written by Dioguardi with Jimmy Harry and Shep Solomon “That’s a song that’s really supposed to be about ‘the one guy that got away.’ I don’t actually have that ‘one guy that got away,’ but I did have one guy that kind of didn’t work, and you never know if something could have happened. That’s kind of what the song is about. It was really hard recording that song.”

“It was written for me by Kara, and I wasn’t really in that headspace right then; I hadn’t ‘lost’ someone right then. But, it was kind of like foreshadowing. I read something that Sting said in an interview, he talked about how the great thing about writing is that it is an emotional and therapeutic thing and you can get it out. But the bad thing is, you literally have to go back to that place and re-live it while you’re working on the song. It’s depressing. After doing that song I was depressed for a week! It was depressing recording that song. By the last line, I was crying. But it’s great for the record.”

“Hear Me”: written by Clarkson, Kara Dioguardi and Cliff Magness. “The past few years have been a whirlwind for me, and my life has been crazy, but now I know about where I want to go, and who I am. The song is almost like a prayer to God. I haven’t met the person who I will spend the rest of my life with, but the song is a prayer to God about that. That’s what the song is. ‘God, I’m ready for ‘the one!’ ’ But I don’t even know what I was thinking when I wrote that song, I’m totally not ready for that kind of relationship now anyway! I don’t even know how I’d even fit a relationship into my life. I know that’s horrible to say. But I’m young. I have the most exciting year ahead of me, I’m going to be touring all over the world, Japan, Australia, I should enjoy it, instead of worrying about hurrying up and getting married. But I come from a small town, I have friends who have kids. I go back there, and I feel like I’m ‘behind.’ Like there’s something wrong with me. At the same time, I don’t live there, and that’s not my life.”

“Beautiful Disaster”: writer Matthew Wilder & Rehekah Jordan “’Beautiful Disaster’ is one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever, ever come in contact with. Rebekah Jordan wrote that song for my last record. When I heard it, I called her and I wanted to meet her, I wanted to know why she wrote that song. I just fell in love with the lyrics.”

“There are certain loved ones in your life, it could be a father, a mother, a brother, a boyfriend, a friend, and you want to keep them in your life because you love them, but at the same time they’re dragging you down. It’s easier for someone to drag you down than for you to lift them up. Rebekah told me that she had a boyfriend with a lot of drug issues, and she was really trying to help him get out of it, and she couldn’t. That’s why she wrote the song.”

“As for the recording of the song, I think that, when it was released on my first record, the label wanted all the production that was on it, and I just hated it. I thought it took away from the song, and so did the producer, Matthew Wilder. We wanted to do it the way I did it on tour, with just a piano and my voice. The label thought it didn’t sound ‘big’ enough. But I thought the production was distracting from the lyrics. So, on tour I did the stripped down version. I would get fanmail about that version. I sang it that way on The View. And people wanted that piano and voice version. So I decided to add the live version to this record.”

With a record she’s proud of in stores, Kelly is now looking forward to the next few months: “I’m doing a small theater tour, then I’m going to do a bigger tour that I’m going to co-headline with someone, we haven’t figured out who.” In recent months, there has been some controversy about which singers actually sing, and which ones pretend to. Kelly doesn’t have to worry about proving her singing abilities: her fans know that you don’t win American Idol by faking it.

“When I tour, I sing live. And people like that I sing live. I’m not even criticizing anyone that doesn’t. But there are singers and there are entertainers, it’s very entertaining to go to a show with dancers and a big production, but my show isn’t that. When I’m sitting in an award show… there was a certain award show, I won’t say which one, but there were at least three performers, who didn’t sing live. I was like, I can understand how they sell records – I own some of their records! – I don’t think you have to be the best singer in the world. But for an awards show? When you’re celebrating music, and this was a show that should have had no lip synching. It was almost a slap in the face.”

But Kelly doesn’t spend much time mulling over what other people do; she’s always trying to improve her own skills… not just her singing, but her guitar playing. “There’s a difference between someone who could play guitar and a guitarist. I could play five or six of my songs on guitar .But there’s a difference between me and a guitarist, who can play around with a song and make it sound different. I’m really trying to work to be that. I really want to be good at it, and I think it will make me a better writer.” Judging by the songs she’s penned so far, she’s already a songwriter of note… but it’s typical of someone of her ambition to want to raise her game. As the interview winds down, she scrolls through some unreleased songs on her iPod, which she may offer to other singers or she may release on her own at some point. For now, she’s busy preparing for her tour, and it will be a while before she gets to work on another album. On the other hand, she may not be able to wait to start her next project, so you never know when her new songs will surface.

Alicia Keys biography

Nine-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys returns with her long-awaited third studio album, As I Am, set for a worldwide release on November 13 on J Records. Within 10 hours of being serviced to radio, Alicia first single, “No One,” became one of the fastest moving and highest charting single on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. This also marks the highest first single debut for a female artist in 2007 on the R&B Monitor’s Urban Mainstream chart!

“No One” was written and produced by Keys, longtime collaborator Kerry “Krucial” Brothers and Dirty Harry. The Justin Francis/The Saline Project-directed video for “No One” was recently shot in LA and will premiere on national video outlets on September 17.

Her first studio album since the critically-acclaimed 2003’s The Diary of Alicia Keys, Alicia showcases her songwriting and producing talents on all 13 songs on As I Am, but also joins forces on several tracks with her longtime collaborator Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, award-winning songwriters Linda Perry, John Mayer, Harold Lilly, Sean Garrett and producers Mark Batson, Dirty Harry, Swizz Beatz and Jack Splash.

One of the few artists who can capture an old-school vibe and make if feel refreshingly new, Alicia tackles this feat once again with an album she describes as “Janis Joplin meets Aretha Franklin.” Punctuated with rich powerful vocals, Alicia’s vocal muses can be felt on songs ranging from the anthemic “Superwoman” and power-charged “Go Ahead” to the misty-eyed ballad “Like You Never See Me Again” and the soulful “Sure Looks Good To Me.”

Tonight on CBS’s Fashion Rocks, Alicia mesmerizes the audience with a soul-stirring performance of “The Thing About Love” from As I Am and joins the incredible Carlos Santana in an amazing duet of “Black Magic Woman.” Keys will also rock the MTV Video Music Awards on September 9 with a national televised debut performance of her new hit single “No One.”

Since the 2001 debut of Songs In A Minor, the New York native has built an unparalleled repertoire of hits and accomplishments with over 20 million albums sold worldwide! Songs In A Minor, which spawned her signature hit “Fallin,” sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and garnered five Grammy Awards including Best New Artist and Best R&B Album. Alicia’s follow-up disc, 2004’s The Diary of Alicia Keys, which is currently 7 times platinum, captured four Grammy Awards and featured the hits “If I Ain’t Got You,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” and “Karma.” With the 2005 release of Unplugged, which has sold 2 million copies, Keys became the first female R&B artist to have three consecutive #1 debuts on the Billboard 200 album chart in as many releases.

Fergie biography

Stacy Ann Ferguson (born March 27, 1975), professionally known as Fergie, is a Grammy Award-winning American pop and R&B singer. She is a former member of Kids Incorporated, Wild Orchid and current vocalist of the The Black Eyed Peas. She is currently pursuing a solo career and has released her first solo album, The Dutchess, in 2006.
Stacy Ferguson was born in Whittier, California to parents Pat Ferguson and Terri Gore. She is of Irish and Scottish descent.

As a child actress, she appeared on the television program Kids Incorporated for several years with Renee Sands, who herself would become another member of Wild Orchid. Her well-scrubbed image on that show presents quite a contrast with the ghetto-funk image she has more recently begun to cultivate. Ferguson was the voice of Sally Brown in two Charlie Brown specials: It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984), Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985) and also voiced Sally in the 1985 version of "The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show". She has one sister, Dana Ferguson, who is an actress. Later, Ferguson was a member of the female trio Wild Orchid which she fronted with fellow Kids Incorporated star Renee Sandstrom and Stefanie Ridel. Wild Orchid released two albums, but after completing a third album, their record label declined to release it. This prompted an emotional crisis, and Stacy sought therapy. She left the group shortly thereafter.

Her disappointment with Wild Orchid led to an addiction to ecstacy and crystal meth. She told a Glasgow paper: "I started doing Ecstasy. Then I got addicted to crystal methamphetamine. My weight dropped to 90 lb so I lied to my friends and said I was bulimic. Finally, I started going crazy."

On July 2003, she had a guest role on the Rocket Power special, Reggie's Big Beach Break, on Nickelodeon, voicing a fictitious pop music star named Shaffika.

In 2003, Ferguson took over the lead female vocal duties for the band, The Black Eyed Peas. Ferguson replaced background singer Kim Hill, who left the group in 2000. Ferguson recorded five songs with the group before she was invited to join them permanently. Ferguson's addition to the band, which had been formed years earlier, sent the group on a whirlwind of success. She appeared on the cover of FHM in January 2005. In 2006, Ferguson returned to acting, appearing in the movie, Poseidon. She is also featured as No. 36 on Maxim's Hot 100 list for 2006. After two hit BEP albums, Ferguson has turned her sights on a solo career. Her first album due in September 2006, is entitled, The Dutchess, a take on Sarah Ferguson's, The Duchess of York royal title, and the common 'Ferguson' surname. The solo deal however, does not mean the demise of the Black Eyed Peas. Ferguson is intending staying with the group, and alternating between the two duties. Music on The Dutchess is expected to be reminiscent of the Black Eyed Peas sound, most likely due to fellow BEP member, Will.i.am, featured on production duties. Ferguson worked with an array of talent, and the lyrics will focus on Fergie's own brand of style and delivery.

Ferguson is currently dating actor Josh Duhamel who appears on the television show Las Vegas. Ferguson actually partook in an episode of Las Vegas titled "Montecito Lancers". Ferguson is also due to appear in the feature film Grind House due out in 2007.

Madonna biography

An icon for female pop stars thanks to her proven ability to reinvent herself while retaining complete control of her career, Madonna is also one of the most commercially successful artists in the history of popular music. Without doubt an artist with "star quality", no other female singer in the pop arena has been as prominent or as successful over such a long period.

The young Madonna Louise Ciccone excelled at dance and drama at high school and during brief periods at colleges in Michigan and North Carolina. In 1977, she went to New York, studying with noted choreographer Alvin Ailey and taking modeling jobs. Two years later, Madonna moved to France to join a show featuring disco singer Patrick Hernandez. There she met Dan Gilroy and, back in New York, the pair formed club band the Breakfast Club. Madonna played drums and sang with the band before setting up Emmy in 1980 with Detroit-born drummer and former boyfriend, Steve Bray. Together, Madonna and Bray created club tracks which led to a recording deal with Sire Records. With leading New York disc jockey Mark Kamins producing, she recorded "Everybody", a US club hit in 1982. Madonna broke out from the disco scene into mainstream pop with "Holiday", written and produced by Jellybean. It reached the US Top 20 in late 1983 and was a Top 10 hit across Europe the following year.

By now, her tough, raunchy persona was coming across to international audiences and the attitude was underlined by the choice of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg's catchy "Like A Virgin" as a 1984 single. The track provided the singer with the first of her subsequent 11 US number 1s. The follow-up, "Material Girl", included a promotional video which introduced one of Madonna's most characteristic visual styles, the mimicking of Marilyn Monroe's "blonde bombshell' image. By the time of her appearance at 1985"s Live Aid concert and her high-profile wedding to actor Sean Penn on 16 August the same year, Madonna had become an internationally recognized superstar, known to millions of tabloid newspaper readers without any interest in her music. Among the fans of her work were a growing number of "wannabees", teenage girls who aped her independent and don't-care stance.

From 1985-87, Madonna turned out a stream of irresistibly catchy transatlantic Top 5 singles. "Crazy For You", her second US chart-topper, was co-written by ex-Carpenters collaborator John Bettis, while she co-wrote her first UK number 1, "Into The Groove", with Steve Bray. These were followed by "Dress You Up", "Live To Tell", and the transatlantic chart-topper, "Papa Don't Preach". "True Blue", "Open Your Heart" and "La Isla Bonita' were further successes taken from 1986"s True Blue. Like an increasing number of her songs, "Who's That Girl" (her second transatlantic number 1) and "Causing A Commotion" were tied-in to a movie - in this instance, a poorly received comedy in which she starred with Sir John Mills. Madonna's film career had begun with a minor role in the b-movie A Certain Sacrifice before she starred in the acclaimed Desperately Seeking Susan. The following year she appeared with husband Penn in her first real failure, Shanghai Surprise. She separated from Penn in 1988, the same year she appeared on Broadway in David Mamet's play Speed The Plow. Back on the music scene, the singer continued to attract controversy when, in 1989, the video for "Like A Prayer" (her third transatlantic chart-topper), with its links between religion and eroticism, was condemned by the Vatican and caused Pepsi-Cola to cancel a sponsorship deal with the star. The resulting publicity helped the album of the same title - co-produced with new collaborator Patrick Leonard - to become a global bestseller.

In 1990, her career reached a new peak of publicity and commercial success. She starred with Warren Beatty in the blockbuster movie Dick Tracy, while the extravagant costumes and choreography of the Blond Ambition world tour were the apotheosis of Madonna's uninhibited melange of sexuality, song, dance and religiosity. The tour was commemorated by the following year's documentary movie, Truth Or Dare. Among her hits of the early 90s were the transatlantic number 1 "Vogue", devoted to a short-lived dance craze, "Hanky Panky", "Justify My Love" (co-written with Lenny Kravitz), "Rescue Me", and "This Used To Be My Playground" (from the soundtrack of A League Of Their Own).

Madonna's reputation as a strong businesswoman, in control of each aspect of her career, was confirmed in 1992 when she signed a multi-million dollar deal with the Time-Warner conglomerate, parent company of Sire. This guaranteed the release of albums, films and books created by her own Maverick production company. The publication of her graphic and erotic book Sex put her back on top of the charts, though this time it was in the bestselling book lists. The book was an unprecedented success, selling out within hours and needing an immediate reprint. The attendant Erotica marked a slight creative downturn, and was her first album since her debut not to generate a US number 1 single. She returned to form on Bedtime Stories, on which she teamed up with Soul II Soul producer Nellee Hooper, who wrote the title track in conjunction with Björk. "Take A Bow" returned the singer to the top of the US singles chart, while the rest of the album boasted songs that combined, by her own description, pop, R&B, hip-hop and Madonna. The 1995 compilation of her slower material, Something To Remember, featured the excellent new song, "You'll See".

In 1996, Madonna's need to shock had mellowed considerably with a credible movie portrayal of Eva Peron in Alan Parker's Evita. Later that year she became "with child' on 14 October with the birth of Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. She returned to music with March 1998"s Ray Of Light, one of her finest recordings to date. Collaborating with producer William Orbit, Madonna positively reveled in a new found musical freedom. Her voice had also matured into a rich and expressive instrument. The album generated several transatlantic hit singles, including "Frozen" (a UK chart-topper), "Ray Of Light", "Drowned World (Substitute For Love)", "The Power Of Good-bye", and "Nothing Really Matters". "Beautiful Stranger', taken from the soundtrack to the Mike Myers" movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, reached number 2 in the UK charts in June 1999. Another soundtrack, for the movie The Next Best Thing, co-written and co-produced by Madonna and Orbit, was released on the singer's Maverick label. It featured her new single, a reworking of Don McLean's classic "American Pie".

Madonna worked with Orbit and French dance producer Mirwais on her next collection, Music, the title track of which was a transatlantic chart-topper in September 2000. Shortly before the release of the album, on 11 August, the singer gave birth to her second child, Rocco. On 22 December, she married the UK film director Guy Ritchie in Scotland and managed once again to grab most of the newspaper headlines. She went on to collaborate with Ritchie on the controversial video for "What It Feels Like For A Girl", and in 2002 starred in the director's ill-fated remake of Swept Away. The same year Madonna performed the theme song to the new James Bond movie, Die Another Day. The following year she released her new studio album, American Life, a transatlantic chart-topper. Now she's back with "Confessions On a Dance Floor," which has already produced two number one hits - "Hung up" and "Sorry."

Mariah Carey biography

Early life and discovery

Carey was born in Long Island, New York. She is the third and youngest child of Patricia Hickey, a former opera singer and voice coach of Irish American Roman Catholic extraction, and Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer of Afro-Venezuelan descent. As a multiracial family, the Careys endured racial slurs, hostility, and sometimes violence, causing the family to frequently relocate in the New York and Rhode Island areas. The strain on the family led to the divorce of Carey's parents when she was three years old.

Carey had little contact with her father, and her mother worked several jobs to support the family. Spending much of her time at home alone, Carey turned to music as an outlet. She began singing at around the age of three, performing for the first time in public during elementary school, and was writing her own songs by junior high. Carey graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, although she was frequently absent due to her popularity as a demo singer for local recording studios. Her renown within the Long Island music scene gave her opportunities to work with musicians such as Gavin Christopher and Ben Margulies, with whom she co-wrote material for her demo tape. After moving to New York City, Carey worked numerous part-time jobs to pay the rent and completed five hundred hours of beauty school. Eventually, she became a backup singer for Brenda K. Starr.

In 1988 Carey met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party, where Starr gave him Carey's demo tape. Mottola played the tape while leaving the party and was very impressed with what he heard. He returned to the party to find Carey, but she had left. Nevertheless, Mottola tracked her down and signed her to a recording contract. This Cinderella-like story became part of the standard publicity surrounding Carey's entrance into the industry.

  • 1990–1992: Early commercial success
Carey co-wrote all of the original compositions on her 1990 debut album Mariah Carey, and continued to co-write nearly all of her material for the rest of her career, but expressed dissatisfaction with the contributions of producers such as Ric Wake and Rhett Lawrence (who had been brought in by label executives). With substantial promotion the album ascended to number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for several weeks. It produced four number-one singles and made Carey a star in the United States, but its success elsewhere was limited. Critics rated the album highly, and Carey won Grammy Awards for "Best New Artist" and "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" (for her debut single "Vision of Love").

Carey's 1992 MTV Unplugged concert showed her ability to reproduce her vocal style outside of a studio setting. Audio sample of "Emotions" (help·info)Emotions, Carey's second album, was conceived as an homage to Motown soul music (see Motown Sound) and saw Carey working with Walter Afanasieff and the dance group C&C Music Factory. It was released soon after her debut album in the fall of 1991, but was neither critically nor commercially as successful; Rolling Stone described it as "more of the same, with less interesting material ... pop-psych love songs played with airless, intimidating expertise". The title track "Emotions" made Carey the only recording act to have their first five singles reach number-one on the U.S. Hot 100 chart, though the album's follow-up singles failed to match this feat. Carey had been lobbying to produce her own songs, and beginning with Emotions, she would co-produce most of her material. "I didn't want [Emotions] to be somebody else's vision of me," she said. "There's more of me on this album." She would also begin writing and producing for other artists, such as Penny Ford and Daryl Hall, within the coming year.

Although she had occasionally performed live, stage fright had prevented Carey from embarking on any major public tours. Her first widely-seen concert appearance was on the television show MTV Unplugged in 1992, and she said she felt that her performance proved her vocal abilities were not, as some had previously speculated, simulated using studio techniques. In addition to acoustic versions of some of her earlier songs, Carey premiered a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" with back-up singer Trey Lorenz. Released as a single, the duet reached number one in the U.S. and led to a record deal for Lorenz, whose debut album Carey produced. Because of strong ratings for the Unplugged television special, the concert's set list was released on the EP MTV Unplugged, which Entertainment Weekly called "the strongest, most genuinely musical record she has ever made ... Did this live performance help her take her first steps toward growing up?"

  • 1993–1996: Worldwide popularity
Carey and Tommy Mottola had become romantically involved during the making of her debut album, and in June 1993 they were married.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds consulted on the album Music Box, which was released later that year and became Carey's most successful worldwide. It yielded her first UK number-one, a cover of Badfinger's "Without You", as well as the U.S. number-ones "Dreamlover" and "Hero". Billboard magazine proclaimed it as "heart-piercing ... easily the most elemental of Carey's releases, her vocal eurythmics in natural sync with the songs", but TIME magazine lamented Carey's attempt at a mellower work: "[Music Box] seems perfunctory and almost passionless ... Carey could be a pop-soul great; instead she has once again settled for Salieri-like mediocrity." A subsequent U.S. tour was slated by most critics. Carey said in a Vogue interview: "As soon as you have a big success, a lot of people don't like that. There's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is make music I believe in."

Carey and Boyz II Men recording "One Sweet Day" (1995), one of both acts' biggest singles. Audio sample (help·info)Following a successful duet with Luther Vandross on a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross' "Endless Love" in late 1994, Carey released the holiday album Merry Christmas. It contained both cover material and original compositions such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which became Carey's first Japanese number-one and in subsequent years emerged as one of her most perennially popular songs on U.S. radio. Critical reception to Merry Christmas was mixed, with All Music Guide dismissing it as an "otherwise vanilla set... pretensions to high opera on 'O Holy Night' and a horrid danceclub take on 'Joy to the World'". The album drew greater approval from the public, and it became the most successful Christmas album of all time.

In 1995 Carey released Daydream, which combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. Carey said that Columbia reacted negatively to her intentions for the album: "Everybody was like 'What, are you crazy?'. They're very nervous about breaking the formula." It became her biggest-selling LP in the U.S., and its singles achieved similar success: "Fantasy" became the second single to debut at number-one in the U.S. and topped the Canadian charts for twelve weeks, "One Sweet Day" (with Boyz II Men) spent a still-record sixteen weeks at number one in the U.S., and "Always Be My Baby" (co-produced by Jermaine Dupri) led the Hot 100's 1996 year-end radio airplay chart. Daydream generated career-best reviews for Carey and was named one of 1995's best albums by publications such as The New York Times, which wrote that its "best cuts bring pop candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement ... Carey's songwriting has taken a leap forward, becoming more relaxed, sexier and less reliant on thudding clichés". Sales of the album were augmented by a highly profitable world tour, and it received six Grammy Award nominations.

  • 1997–2000: Independence and new image
Carey and Mottola separated in 1996. Although the public image of the marriage was a happy one, she said that in reality she had felt trapped by her relationship with Mottola, whom she often described as controlling. They officially announced their separation in 1997, and their divorce became final the following year. Carey hired a new attorney and manager soon after the separation, as well as an independent publicist. She became a major songwriter and producer for other artists during this period, contributing to the debut albums of Allure, 7 Mile and Blaque through her short-lived Crave Records imprint.

"Honey" (1997), Carey's first heavily hip hop-influenced single, presented a more overtly sexual image of her than had been previously seen. Audio sample (help·info)Carey's next album Butterfly (1997) yielded the number-one single "Honey", the lyrics and music video for which presented a more overtly sexual image of her than had been previously seen. She stated that Butterfly marked the point that she attained full creative control over her music, which continued to move in an R&B/hip hop direction with material co-written and produced by rappers such as Sean "Puffy" Combs and Missy Elliott, but added: "I don't think it's that much of a departure from what I've done in the past ... It's not like I went psycho and thought I was going to be a rapper. Personally, this album is about doing whatever the hell I wanted to do." Reviews were almost uniformly positive: LAUNCHcast said Butterfly "pushes the envelope", a move its critic thought "may prove disconcerting to more conservative fans" but praised as "a welcome change". The Los Angeles Times wrote: "[Butterfly] is easily the most personal, confessional-sounding record she's ever done ... Carey-bashing just might become a thing of the past." The album was a commercial success, and "My All" (her thirteenth Hot 100 number-one) gave her the record for the most U.S. number-ones by a female artist. Towards the turn of the millennium, Carey developed the film project All That Glitters, and she also wrote songs for the films Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).

During the production of Butterfly, Carey became involved with New York Yankees baseball player Derek Jeter. Their relationship ended in 1998, with both parties citing media interference as the main reason for the split. That year saw the release of the album #1's, a collection of her U.S. number-one singles up to that point. Carey said she recorded new material for the album as a way of rewarding her fans, and it also included "When You Believe", an Academy Award-winning duet with Whitney Houston from the soundtrack to The Prince of Egypt. #1's sold above expectations, but a review in NME labelled Carey "a purveyor of saccharine bilge like 'Hero', whose message seems wholesome enough: that if you vacate your mind of all intelligent thought, flutter your eyelashes and wish hard, sweet babies and honey will follow". Also that year she appeared on the first televised VH1 Divas benefit concert program, though her alleged prima donna behaviour had already led many to consider her a diva. By the following year, she had entered a relationship with singer Luis Miguel.

Rainbow, Carey's sixth studio album, was released in 1999. It was again comprised of more R&B/hip hop-oriented songs, many of them co-created with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Both "Heartbreaker" and "Thank God I Found You" (the former featuring Jay-Z, the latter featuring Joe and boyband 98 Degrees) reached number one in the U.S., and the success of the former made Carey the only act to have a number-one single in each year of the 1990s. Media reception was generally enthusiastic, with the Sunday Herald saying the album "sees her impressively tottering between soul ballads and collaborations with R&B heavyweights like Snoop Doggy Dogg, Usher ... It's a polished collection of pop-soul." Similar sentiments were expressed in VIBE magazine, which wrote, "She pulls out all stops...Rainbow will garner even more adoration", but despite this it became Carey's lowest-selling LP up to that point, and there was a recurring criticism that the tracks were too alike. When the double A-side "Crybaby"/"Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" became her first single to peak outside of the top twenty, Carey accused Sony of under promoting it: "The political situation in my professional career is not positive ... I'm getting a lot of negative feedback from certain corporate people", she wrote on her official website.

  • 2001–2004: Personal and professional struggles
After receiving Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award (see Billboard Music Awards) and the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium, Carey parted from Columbia and signed a contract with EMI's Virgin Records worth a reported US$80 million. She often stated that Columbia had regarded her as a commodity, with her separation from Mottola exacerbating her relations with label executives. Just a few months later in July 2001, it was widely reported that Carey had suffered a physical and emotional breakdown. She had left messages on her website complaining of being overworked, and her relationship with Luis Miguel was ending. In an interview the following year, she said, "I was with people who didn't really know me, and I had no personal assistant. I'd be doing interviews all day long, getting two hours of sleep a night, if that." During an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, Carey handed out popsicles to the audience and began what was later described as a "strip tease". By the month's end, she had checked into a hospital, and her publicist announced that she would be taking a break from public appearances.

A scene from Carey's film Glitter (2001).Critics panned Glitter, Carey's much delayed semi-autobiographical film, and it was a box office failure. The album Glitter, inspired by the music of the 1980s, generated her worst showing on the U.S. charts. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch dismissed it as "an absolute mess that'll go down as an annoying blemish on a career that, while not always critically heralded, was at least nearly consistently successful", while Blender magazine opined, "After years of trading her signature flourishes for a radio-ready purr, [Carey]'s left with almost no presence at all." "Loverboy" reached number two on the Hot 100 thanks to a price cut, but the album's follow-up singles failed to chart.

Columbia released the album Greatest Hits shortly following the failure of Glitter, and in early 2002 Virgin bought out Carey's contract for $28 million, which created further negative publicity. Carey said that her time at Virgin had been "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." Later that year, she signed a $20 million contract with Island Records' Def Jam and launched the record label MonarC. To add further to Carey's emotional burdens, her father died of cancer that summer.

Following a well-received supporting role in the film WiseGirls, Carey released the album Charmbracelet, which she said marked "a new lease on life" for her. Sales of Charmbracelet were lukewarm, and the quality of Carey's vocals came under severe criticism. The Boston Globe declared the album as "the worst of her career, revealing a voice no longer capable of either gravity-defying gymnastics or soft coos", and Rolling Stone commented: "Carey needs bold songs that help her use the power and range for which she is famous. Charmbracelet is like a stream of watercolors that bleed into a puddle of brown." Singles such as "Through the Rain" failed on the charts and with pop radio, whose playlists had become less open to maturing "diva" stylists such as Carey, Whitney Houston and Céline Dion.

"I Know What You Want", a 2003 Busta Rhymes single on which Carey guest-starred, fared considerably better and reached the U.S. top five. Columbia later included it on the remix collection The Remixes, Carey's lowest-selling album. That year, she was awarded the World Music Chopard Diamond Award for selling over 100 million albums worldwide. In 2004 she was featured on rapper Jadakiss' single "U Make Me Wanna", which reached the top ten on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

  • 2005–present: Return to prominence
"We Belong Together" (2005) received Grammy Awards for "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" and "Best R&B Song". Audio sample (help·info)Carey's ninth studio album The Emancipation of Mimi was released in 2005 and contained contributions from producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey's longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri. Carey said it was "very much like a party record ... the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out ... I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that." Mimi became the year's best-selling album in the U.S., won three Grammy Awards (including "Best Contemporary R&B Album") and received some of Carey's most favourable reviews in some time; The Guardian defined it as "a tough cookie of an album" and "cool, focused and urban ... the first Mariah Carey tunes in years I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again". The second single "We Belong Together" held the Hot 100's number-one position for fourteen weeks (her longest run at the top as a solo artist) and was the biggest hit of 2005, while "Shake It Off" made Carey the only female artist to occupy the top two positions on the Hot 100 simultaneously. "Don't Forget about Us" became her seventeenth number-one in the U.S., which tied her with Elvis Presley for the most number-ones by a solo act according to Billboard magazine's revised methodology (their statistician Joel Whitburn still credits Presley with an eighteenth). By this count Carey is behind only The Beatles, who have twenty number-ones. She is scheduled to begin a concert tour, The Adventures of Mimi, in summer 2006.

  • Acting career
Carey began to take professional acting lessons in 1997, and within the coming year, she was auditioning for film roles. She made her debut as an opera singer in the romantic comedy The Bachelor (1999) starring Chris O'Donnell and Renée Zellweger, and CNN derisively referred to her casting as a talentless diva as "letter-perfect".

Carey's first starring role was in Glitter (2001), and in it she played a struggling musician in the 1980s who breaks into the music industry after meeting a disc jockey (Max Beesley). While Roger Ebert said "[Carey]'s acting ranges from dutiful flirtatiousness to intense sincerity", most critics panned it: Halliwell's Film Guide called it a "vapid star vehicle for a pop singer with no visible acting ability", and The Village Voice observed: "When [Carey] tries for an emotion—any emotion—she looks as if she's lost her car keys." Glitter was a box office failure, and Carey earned a Razzie Award for her role. She later said that the film "started out as a concept with substance, but it ended up being geared to 10-year-olds. It lost a lot of grit ... I kind of got in over my head."

Carey (left), with Melora Walters and Mira Sorvino, in WiseGirls (2002).Carey, Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters co-starred as waitresses at a restaurant run by mobsters in the independent film WiseGirls (2002), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival but went straight to cable in the U.S. Critics commended Carey for her efforts: the Hollywood Reporter predicted, "Those scathing notices for Glitter will be a forgotten memory for the singer once people warm up to Raychel", and Roger Friedman, referring to her as "a Thelma Ritter for the new millennium", said, "Her line delivery is sharp and she manages to get the right laughs". WiseGirls producer Anthony Esposito cast Carey in The Sweet Science, a film about an unknown female boxer who is recruited by a boxing manager, but it never entered production.

Carey was one of several musicians who appeared in the independently-produced Damon Dash films Death of a Dynasty (2003) and State Property 2 (2005), while her television work has been limited to a January 2002 episode of Ally McBeal. Carey joined the cast of the indie film Tennessee in 2006, taking the role of a waitress who travels with her two brothers to find their long-lost father.

  • Artistry
Carey has said that from childhood she was stimulated by soul and R&B musicians such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and Al Green. Her music also contains strong influences of gospel music, and her favourite gospel singers include The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins. As Carey began to imbue her sound with hip hop, speculation arose that she was making an attempt to take advantage of the genre's popularity, but she told Newsweek, "People just don't understand. I grew up with this music". She has expressed appreciation for rappers such as The Sugarhill Gang, Eric B. & Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G. and Mobb Deep, with whom she collaborated on the single "The Roof (Back in Time)" (1998).

Carey performing in December 1998.Carey's debut album received criticism for being too similar in style to the work of Whitney Houston, and throughout her career, Carey's vocal and musical style, along with her level of success, have been compared to Houston and Céline Dion. Carey and her peers, according to Garry Mulholland, are "the princesses of wails ... virtuoso vocalists who blend chart-oriented pop with mature MOR torch song". In She Bop II: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul (2002), writer Lucy O'Brien attributed the comeback of Barbra Streisand's "old-fashioned showgirl" to Carey and Dion, and described them and Houston as "groomed, airbrushed and overblown to perfection". Carey's musical transition and the use of more revealing clothing during the late 1990s were in part initiated to distance herself from this image, and she subsequently said that most of her early work had been "schmaltzy MOR". Some have noted that unlike Houston and Dion, Carey writes all of her own songs, and the Guinness Rockopedia (1998) classified her as the "songbird supreme". As of 2006 Carey had received a career-total of five Grammy Awards.

  • Voice
Carey can cover all the notes from the alto vocal range leading to those of a coloratura soprano, and her vocal trademark is her ability to sing in the whistle register. She has cited Minnie Riperton as the greatest influence on her singing technique, and from a very early age, she would attempt to emulate Riperton's high notes, to increasing degrees of success as her vocal range expanded. According to most sources, she has a five-octave vocal range, though some credit her with as many as eight octaves. In 2003 her voice was voted the greatest in music in MTV and Blender magazine's countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music. Carey said of the poll: "What it really means is voice of the MTV generation. Of course, it's an enormous compliment, but I don't feel that way about myself."

Carey's voice has come under considerable scrutiny from critics who believe that she does not effectively communicate the message of her songs. Rolling Stone magazine said in 1992, "Carey has a remarkable vocal gift, but to date, unfortunately, her singing has been far more impressive than expressive ... at full speed her range is so superhuman that each excessive note erodes the believability of the lyric she is singing." The New York Daily News wrote that Carey's singing "is ultimately what does her in. For Carey, vocalizing is all about the performance, not the emotions that inspired it ... Does having a great voice automatically make you a great singer? Hardly." Some interpreted Carey's decision to utilise what she described as "breathy" vocals in some of her late 1990s and early 2000s work as a sign that her voice had begun to deteriorate, but she has maintained that it "has been here all along". An article in Vibe magazine indicated that Carey's singing style highlights weaknesses in other aspects of her music: "The impressiveness of her voice—as well as her tendency to oversing—make the blandness of her material all the more flagrant".

  • Themes and musical style
Love is the subject of the majority of Carey's lyrics, although she has also written about themes such as racism, death and spirituality. She has said that much of her work is partly autobiographical, but TIME magazine wrote: "If only Mariah Carey's music had the drama of her life. Her songs are often sugary and artificial—NutraSweet soul. But her life has passion and conflict."

Carey's output makes great use of electronic instruments such as drum machines, synthesizers and keyboards. Many of her songs contain piano music, and she was given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said in one interview that she cannot read sheet music and prefers to collaborate with a pianist when composing her material, but feels that it is easier to experiment with faster and less conventional melodies and chord progressions using this technique. Some of her arrangements have been inspired by the work of musicians such as Stevie Wonder, a soul/R&B pianist whom Carey once referred to as "the genius of the [20th] century", but she has said "My voice is my instrument; it always has been." Butterfly Melodies, a tribute album containing piano renditions of some of Carey's songs, was released by Vitamin Records in 2005.

Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes. Disc jockey David Morales has collaborated with Carey several times, starting with "Dreamlover" (1993), which popularised the tradition of remixing pop songs into house records and which Slant magazine named one of the greatest dance songs of all time. From "Fantasy" (1995) onward, she would enlist both hip hop and house producers to re-imagine her album compositions. Entertainment Weekly included two remixes of "Fantasy" on a list of Carey's greatest recordings compiled in 2005: a National Dance Music Award-winning remix produced by Morales and another featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, and the latter has been credited with initiating the trend of the pop/hip hop collaboration which has continued into the 2000s through artists such as Beyoncé Knowles and Ashanti. Sean Combs, who co-produced the hip hop remix, said that Carey "knows the importance of mixes, so you feel like you're with an artist who appreciates your work—an artist who wants to come up with something with you". She continues to consult on remixes by producers such as Morales, Jermaine Dupri, Junior Vasquez and DJ Clue, and guest performers contribute frequently to them. The popularity of these remixes, which often sound radically different from their album counterparts, has been known to eclipse the success of the original songs.

  • Philanthropy and other activities
Carey with children at the Fresh Air Fund's Camp Mariah.Carey is a philanthropist who has donated time and money to organizations such as the Fresh Air Fund. She became associated with the Fund in the early 1990s, and is the co-founder of a camp located in Fishkill, New York, that enables inner-city youth to embrace the arts and introduces them to career opportunities. The camp was called Camp Mariah "for her generous support and dedication to Fresh Air children", and she received a Congressional Horizon Award for her youth-related charity work. She is also well-known nationally for her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in granting the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, has volunteered for the New York City Police Athletic League and contributed to the obstetrics department of New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Medical Center. A percentage of the sales of MTV Unplugged was donated to various other charities.

One of Carey's most high-profile benefit concert appearances was on VH1's Divas Live special in 1998, where she performed alongside other female singers in support of the Save the Music Foundation. The concert was a ratings success, and Carey participated in the 2000 special. She appeared at the America: A Tribute to Heroes nationally televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in December 2001 she performed before peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. Carey also hosted the CBS television special At Home for the Holidays, which documented real-life stories of adopted children and foster families, and she has worked with the New York City Administration for Children's Services. In 2005 Carey performed for Live 8 and at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon Shelter from the Storm.

Carey has participated in endorsements for Berlitz Language Schools and the Aeon English College in Japan, Nescafé coffee, and Intel Centrino personal computers. In early 2006 she launched a jewelry and accessories line for teenagers, "Glamorized", in U.S. Claire's and Icing stores. Later that year it was announced she had signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden to release a fragrance in 2007.. During this period, as part of a promotion for Pepsi and Motorola, Carey produced a series of exclusive ringtones and starred in a television advertisement.