January 11, 1971 - New York, New York.
Early Life of Mary J. Blige:
Mary J. Blige was born in New York City's borough The Bronx. However, she spent the first few years of her life in Savannah, Georgia before moving with her mother to the housing projects of Yonkers, New York. Her musical career began at the age of 18 when she recorded herself singing Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" with a mall karaoke machine. Mary's mother's boyfriend passed the tape to r&b singer Jeff Redd who passed it on to Uptown Records' Andre Harrell.
Quote from Mary J. Blige:
Advice for aspiring musicians in interview with ContactMusic magazine: "Don't ever say it'll never happen, or it'll never happen."
Work With Puff Daddy:
Mary J. Blige was signed to sing backup vocals at Uptown Records. There she met another aspiring talent Sean "Puffy" Combs, aka "Puff Daddy." Combs helped Mary J. Blige put together her first solo album What's the 4-1-1. The album was released in 1992 and critics loved the combination of gritty hip hop and classic r&b. The album went triple platinum and included the top 10 pop hit "Real Love."
- 1992 - What's the 4-1-1
- 1997 - Share My World
- 1999 - Mary
- 2001 - No More Drama
- 2005 - The Breakthrough
Queen of Hip Hop Soul:
Due to her unique combination of street grit and classic, soulful singing, Mary J. Blige was dubbed Queen of Hip Hop Soul. The title stuck and has remained throughout her career. Her next album My Life in 1994 was a critical success but did not shine in record sales. However, with 1997's Share My World she asserted her power as a premier vocalist and the single "Not Gon' Cry" went all the way to #2 on the pop chart and the album was her first #1.
Trivia Fact About Mary J. Blige:
Mary J. Blige personally asked Sean "Puffy" Combs and Mariah Carey to appear in her 1991 video for "No More Drama," because she believed they had both experienced their fair share of drama recently.
- 1995 - Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group - "I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By" with Method Man from his Tical album
- 2002 - Best Female R&B Vocal Performance - "He Think I Don't Know" from Mary's remix album Dance For Me
- 2003 - Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals - "Whenever I Say Your Name" with Sting from his Sacred Love album
No More Drama:
Mary J. Blige dug deep into classic soul for her 1999 album Mary. It was another artistic success that peformed less well on the charts. However, she went back into the studio in the new millenium with a settled personal life to create one of the top albums of her career.
No More Drama appeared in late summer 2001 led by the stomping single "Family Affair." The song name-dropped the emerging crunk scene and became Mary J. Blige's first #1 pop single. The album was put together as a deeply emotional journey out of difficulty and into a life with "no more drama." It included a reunion with Sean Combs on a pair of tracks. The album eventually sold over 3 million copies and included the additional hits "Rainy Dayz" and the title track.
The followup album Love & Life, released in 2003, portrayed Mary J. Blige's positive approach to life but failed to generate any hits on the scale of "Family Affair." Mary J. Blige's album The Breakthrough appeared near the end of 2005 and debuted at #1 on the album chart, selling over 700,000 copies in its first week. It featured the top 40 hit single "Be Without You."