Date of Birth: January 11, 1971
Mary J. Blige is undoubtedly one of the most influential and recognizable talents in R&B and Hip-Hop. Releasing her first album, "What's the 411?," in 1992, she has been the only artist to ever win Grammy Awards in R&B, Pop, Gospel, and Rap. Blige also received two Golden Globe Awards for her music for the films Bobby and The Help.
Born in The Bronx, New York, to a mother who was a nurse and a father who was a jazz musician, Blige has always had a deep love and passion for R&B and soul music, largely due to her parents' early influence. Growing up, Blige listened to an array of artists of whom her mother was a fan, including Aretha Franklin, Jean Carne, Patti Labelle, and more. Blige was taught to sing by her father and sang in a Pentecostal church in Richmond Hill, Georgia at a young age.
Blige was first discovered after her mother's boyfriend played a recording of her singing a cover of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" for Jeff Redd of Uptown Records. Her recording was sent to the CEO of the label, Andre Harrell, and in 1989 Blige was signed as the company's youngest and first female artist.
Unlike other female artists in the 1990s, Blige's style included baggy clothes, baseball caps, combat boots, and sweats—keeping true to her urban roots. Her vocals were gritty and raw, greatly contrasting with pop divas such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Her musical style later inspired female artists such as Aaliyah, Destiny's Child, and Ashanti.
Blige has sold over 50 million albums and has had ten consecutive albums debut in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. Ranked by VH1 as the 80th greatest artist of all time in 2011, and ranked number 100 on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Singers of All Time," it is clear that Mary J. Blige is a woman of great talent. In fact, her talent extends into film and television.
Her film career began in 2001 with her appearance in Prison Song. She then appeared in various television shows including Entourage and Ghost Whisperer. Blige returned to film in 2009, appearing in Tyler Perry's comedy drama I Can Do Bad All By Myself. She played a supporting role in Adam Shankman's 2012 Broadway musical adaptation Rock of Ages alongside Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough. For her role as Florence Jackson in the movie Mudbound (2017), Mary received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination, as well as one for Best Original Song for "Mighty River" from the same film. She received nominations in the same categories at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards as well.
On the first season of the hit Netflix series Umbrella Academy, Mary played an unforgettable role as hitwoman Cha-Cha in 2019. The same year, she appeared on MTV's Scream: The TV Series as Sherry Elliott. For the animated feature Trolls World Tour (2020) she provided the voice of Queen Essence, and in the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect (2020), Mary played Dinah Washington.
Beyond the scope of music, film, and television, Mary J. Blige has also had other forms of success. She released her perfume "My Life" in partnership with the Home Shopping Network, and went on to break records by selling 65,000 bottles during its premiere and later winning two FiFi Awards.
Mary is married to music executive Martin Kendu Isaacs and resides in New Jersey.
Trolls World Tour (2020)
Sherlock Gnomes (2018)
Rock of Ages (2012)
I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009)
Prison Song (2001)