Often dubbed the Queen of R&B or Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige is a strong force in the music industry. Born on January 11, 1971, in the Bronx, New York, Blige grew up heavily involved in music. From her early ages, she started singing in the church and fostered her love of entertaining.
At the age of 17, a recording of Blige singing made its way to the president and CEO of Uptown Records, Andre Harrell. From there, Blige was immediately signed to the record label. Lending her voice as a background singer, she became the company’s first female artist. By 1992 she dropped her first album, What’s The 411, with the help of record producer Diddy. The album quickly shot to the top of the charts landing at #6 on the Billboard 200 charts. The album introduced her street style and R&B lyrics to the world. With great reviews from music critics, What’s The 411 made Blige’s career a solid one to come.
Singles like "You Remind Me" and "Real Love” soared to the top of the charts and are still legendary hits by the singer to date. In 1993, the success of her debut album gained her two Soul Train Awards and Blige was off to a great start. By 1994 her second album, My Life, was released and immediately went to the top of the charts. Taking the #1 spot on the Top R&B/ Hip-Hop chart as well as #2 on Billboard 200, Blige’s second album confirmed her place in the R&B game. In the years to come, My Life was even credited as one of Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" as well as placed in Time magazine’s 100 greatest songs of all time list.
In 1995 Blige’s powerful voice was used to create one of the most notable songs for the songstress. Blige’s “Not Gon’ Cry” was released on the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack and on her 1997 album, Share My World. The song’s message and Blige’s powerhouse of a voice made you feel every note and every word that she sang. Produced and written by Babyface, the song went certified platinum very quickly and became Blige’s largest commercial success.
Known as the hip-hop soul queen, Blige showed a different side of her music by releasing her self-titled album in 1999. The album included sultrier adult hits to highlight Mary’s range in music content. The album proved to be another success under her belt and was certified double platinum! Mary J. Blige’s reign never wavered.
According to the official Mary J. Blige site
"Iconic Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist, Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making her one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 32 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and five American Music Awards, Blige is a global superstar. In the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums."
By 2001 Blige dropped her fifth studio album, No More Drama. With continued success, her album produced a #1 hit song, "Family Affair." The song sold millions of records and even has 99 million views currently on YouTube. The album also featured songs produced by hit-makers like Dr. Dre and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. During the course of her career, Blige never really stopped doing music.
Mary added to the 2009 Precious soundtrack with a co-penned record titled 'I Can See in Color'. Her big screen stardom didn't stop there, Blige also appeared in Tyler Perry’s dramatic comedy, 'I Can Do Bad All By Myself' in 2009 and starred in 'Rock of Ages,' alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russel Brand in 2012. In 2013, she starred as Betty Shabazz in the TV movie Betty & Coretta, a biographical story about the widows of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. By November 2013, Mary J. Blige starred in the holiday musical film drama Black Nativity and guest-starred on the ABC comedy, Black-ish and the FOX musical drama Empire. Mary's most recent star power role was as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West on the NBC musical, The Wiz LIVE!
In 2014, Blige released her 13th studio album, The London Sessions, which reached the No.1 position on the Top R&B Albums chart and included a behind-the-scene documentary of her recording sessions that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2015.
From movie features to TV shows and performing for President Obama, Mary J. Blige’s career has been a whirlwind of events and success.
What's next for Mary J Blige? To close out her 14th studio album, she's completing The King and Queen of Hearts World Tour with Maxwell, where she's traveled to cities throughout Europe and the U.S. Next on her agenda, Blige will guest star on ABC’s hit show, How to Get Away with Murder playing a pivotal role opposite, Viola Davis in Season 3.
The hip-hop soul queen carved out a special lane for her style of music and has unequivocally kept her stake. Blige has received many accolades for her success, the most recent being her own star on the Walk of Fame. Blige has proven to be an unmovable, unshakable force that cannot be reckoned with. She has been the leader of the merger of R&B music with hip-hop sound. Her work has influenced the current state of both hip-hop and R&B today. Blige is continuing to influence, be a role model and be the best star of the century.