Blige grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx, dropped out of high school and worked as a directory assistance operator. A karaoke booth in a local mall, where she recorded an impromptu cover of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" — turned her fate around. The demo got her a contract with Uptown Records and before long she was the toast of the hip hop world. Still, Blige never forgot her humble beginnings, paying homage to her job as an operator with her multi-platinum debut album, What’s the 411?
(Photo: Koi Sojer, PacificCoastNews.com)