About Mary J. Blige

Written by BET Staff

Published June 12th


Iconic Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment and one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record of eight multiplatinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 32 nominations), two Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and a SAG nomination, among many other accolades, Blige has cemented herself as a global superstar. The singer-songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base -- responsible for worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.


Born in the Bronx, New York, Blige began moving people with her soulful voice when she signed with Andre Harrell's Uptown Records in 1989 at age 18, becoming the MCA-distributed label's youngest, and first, female artist. Influenced at an early age by the music of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight, Blige brought her own gritty, urban-rooted style -- fusing hip hop, soul and honest, frank lyrics -- to the forefront on her 1992 debut album "What's the 411?" The multiplatinum set, executive produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs, quickly spun off several hits, including two R & B number ones, "You Remind Me" and "Real Love."


Blige helped redefine R & B and began forging a unique niche for herself on her more personal second album, 1994's "My Life." Blige is an artist who uses her gift of song to lift spirits and touch lives while bringing her heart, soul and truth to those who are willing to listen. She is loved for her passionate, chart-topping hits like "Be Without You," "No More Drama" and "Family Affair," each of which have made her a force in music.


Thus began the Blige movement, connecting legions of fans that identify with and have accompanied her throughout her personal travails and growth -- all fearlessly related through her music. Each subsequent album reads like a chapter from an autobiography: "Share My World" (1997), "Mary" (1999), "No More Drama" (2001), "Love & Life" (2003), the multiple Grammy-winning and hit-spewing "The Breakthrough" (2005), "Growing Pains" (2007), "Stronger with Each Tear" (2009), "My Life II… The Journey Continues" (2011), "A Mary Christmas" (2013) and "The London Sessions" (2014). Along the way, she's lined up a string of hit singles, including "Not Gon' Cry," "Love Is All We Need," "Seven Days," "All That I Can Say," "Family Affair" and "Just Fine."


Blige released her 13th studio album "Strength of a Woman" in 2017. The first single, "Thick of It," held the number one spot on the Urban AC Chart for 16 consecutive weeks after its release. Blige also scored number one single "U + Me (Love Lesson)" from this album.


On the acting side, Blige starred as Florence Jackson in the 2017 breakout Netflix film "Mudbound," for which she received critical acclaim including two Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song. She starred in the Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy," which premiered on the platform in February 2019. She stars alongside Nat Wolff in the Paramount Players horror thriller "Body Cam" and in the coming-of-age romance "The Violent Heart."


Blige co-headlines a summer U.S. tour with New York City rapper Nas in July 2019.