Articles 1990 - Heroes of Mariah

From New York Daily News (extract)
Mariah Carey's Debut
''It was incredible, like in a movie,'' Mariah Carey said the other day. The 20-year-old singer and songwriter from New York City was recalling the moment a year and a half ago when she was discovered by Tommy Mottola.

From New York Daily News (extract)
Three Voices And the Dangers Of Compromise
Contemporary pop is so overrun by commercial formulas these days that marketing considerations exert a powerful influence on the way a record company presents a new singer to the public. 

Brilliant vocalists like Phoebe Snow and Rickie Lee Jones have suffered commercially because their idiosyncratic musical personalities resist market pigeonholing. Others, like Barbra Streisand, sell themselves short by making formulaic pop records for the sake of sales and end up sounding cramped and uncomfortable. 

Faced with terms like ''upper urban female demographics'' - which try to pin down the age and social milieu of a singer's target audience and the sound that goes with it - what is an aspiring diva to do? And once a singer has had success with a particular sound, is there any escape from doing the same thing over and over? Only Linda Ronstadt has consistently made commercially successful transitions between genres. 

The new album by Anita Baker, and the debut albums of Oleta Adams and Mariah Carey, two young pop-soul singers, suggest different approaches to (and some of the pitfalls of) packaging an outstanding voice. 

''Mariah Carey'' (Columbia CK 45502; all three formats), the debut album of a 20-year-old white soul singer from New York, hits the commercial bull's-eye. In fact, it has already yielded a hit with its first single, ''Vision of Love.'' The daughter of a former singer with the New York City Opera, Ms. Carey has a strong, steely voice reminiscent of Whitney Houston's that projects an almost Olympian invincibility. 

Stylistically, Ms. Carey's record falls slightly on the conservative side of the pop-soul spectrum. Ballads outweigh uptempo songs, and only one cut, ''Prisoner,'' directly acknowledges hip-hop styles. 

What makes ''Mariah Carey'' stand out from similarly formulaic records is the singer's sheer talent. The commercial core of her album consists of four ballads - ''Vision of Love,'' ''Love Takes Time,'' ''There's Got to Be a Way'' and ''I Don't Wanna Cry'' - which she belts out with bravura. 

Ms. Carey has a remarkable range that extends from a rich full alto to an octave above an opera singer's high C. Her upper register is showcased in dazzling little coloratura embellishments on the song ''All in Your Mind.'' Although Ms. Carey maintains a strong gospel flavor throughout the album, the depth of her affinity for the genre is revealed on ''Vanishing,'' in which she sings with the pianist Richard Tee. 

Ms. Carey seems to have everything it takes to become successful quickly. One hopes that mass popularity won't constrain her to pop formulas, and that if she does break away, the break does not entail the sort of compromises that made Ms. Baker's album such a disappointment.


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Heroes of Mariah 2000