My Life: As Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige has been an entertainer for decades. Her career has ranged from starring in movies, producing music and participating in televison shows. In this artist post, we will discuss the ways in which Mary J. Blige’s career was influenced by her childhood and how she continues to play an essential role in the Black culture of this current time period. 

History of Mary J. Blige

Mary Jane Blige was born on January 11, 1971 in Bronx, New York. She was born the child of Thomas and Cora Blige. She has two siblings; an older sister, Latoya, and younger brother, Bruce. Both of her parents were married, but at the age of 4, Blige’s parents divorced later followed as a result of abuse of all forms. Her brother came from a later relationship between her mother and another man after their divorce. Blige’s mother moved her and her sister to Yonkers, New York for a change of scenery. Although, the scenery brought some familiarity as it is was a sight of physical and emotional and sexual violence. As a single parent, Cora Blige was prone to working long hours. At the age of 5, Blige was sexually abused. As time went on she found refuge in church and music.

Blige’s mother owned a music collection that forever changed her life. She found interest in hip-hop. As time progressed, she would visit her father and experience distinctive music types. She became involved in church and enjoyed being there because she felt safe. At the age of 12, she performed the hymn ‘ Lord, Help Me Hold Out Until My Change Has Come‘ and personally connected to the song as she prayed while she sang the song. By the age of 16, she dropped out of high school and turned to drugs, sex and alcohol. She believed that she became a product of her environment. She did whatever made her feel better than how she felt about herself. One day, she recorded Anita Baker’s ‘Caught Up in the Rapture’ on a cassette tape and sent it to various record labels. CEO, Andre Harrell heard her tape and was amazed. In 1992, Harell signed her to Uptown Records and got her in touch with, producer, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and the rest was history. 

What's the 411? Blige's Professional Career

Quickly following being signed in 1992, Mary J. Blige came out with her first album titled ‘What’s the 411?‘. It included songs like Real Love, Sweet Thing, Remind Me, What’s The 411, etc. The album itself was featured on the ‘Billboard Top 200‘ charts and sold more than 3 million copies. She continued on with her career creating her second album, My Life, which included the singles Mary Jane (All Night Long), My Life, I’m Goin Down, Be Happy, etc. This project discussed what occurred in her personal life and allowed her audience to get to know her on a deeper level. In 1996, Mary J. Blige received a Grammy nomination for the ‘Best R&B Album‘. Following this album, Blige’s relationship with Uptown records came to an end and she later signed to MCA records.

In 1997, she recorded and released her third album titled, Share My World. This album reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The dynamic of her sound transformed for the rest of her albums to a more soul-based sound. She continued creating albums: Mary, No More Drama, Love and Life, The Breakthrough, Growing Pains, Stronger With Each Tear, My Life II: The Journey Continues (Act 1), Mary Christmas, Think Like A Man Soundtrack, London Sessions, etc. On her album No More Drama, the song ‘Family Affair’ became a fan-favorite in 2001. The Breakthrough is considered to be one of her most renowned projects to date including the songs Take Me As I Am, Be Without You, Enough Cryin’, etc. Over 7 million copies of this album was sold and it was nominated for 8 Grammys winning a total of 3 for ‘Best R&B album’, ‘Best R&B song’ and ‘Best R&B female vocal performance’. The album, My Life II: The Journey Continues (Act 1) achieved gold certification in 2009. She still continues to create musical projects that transcend the ideas of those who come across them. 

Blige still continues to be heavily involved in music as she still creates projects, but she has also begun to takeover other industries, more specifically the acting industry. She made her first debut in 2001 as she starred in the film, Prison Bound. Before that, she appeared in Jamie Foxx’s show. Her career has continued to progress as she has starred in movies like Mudbound, Rock Ages, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, The Violent Heart, etc. She has also been featured in television series like Power: Book II, Umbrella Academy, Scream: The TV Series, etc. She still manages to write, sing and produce music. Blige continues to raise the bar for those who enter into the music and acting industry. 

Contemporaries & Influences

Mary J. Blige has embodied the sounds of Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul and Gospel. 

Similar Artists are:

  • Faith Evans
  • En Vogue
  • Jill Scott
  • Monica
  • Marsha Ambrosia
  • Tamia
  • Kelly Price

Influencers are:

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Whitney Houston
  • Sade
 

Awards

1995 R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year (Billboard Music)

2004 Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (Grammy)

2006 R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 Female Artist of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Artist of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artist of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 R&B/Hip-Hop Song of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 R&B/Hip-Hop Song Airplay of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 Hot 100 Airplay of the Year (Billboard Music)

2006 Video Clip of the Year

2007 Best R&B Album (Grammy)

2007 Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (Grammy)

2007 Best R&B Song (Grammy)

2008 Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (Grammy)

2008 Best Gospel Performance (Grammy)

2008 Best Contemporary R&B Album (Grammy)

From 1995 to 2021, Blige continues to receive awards from BET, AMA, NAACP, etc. Listed is only a limited amount of awards. 

Discography

Mary J. Blige’s discography consist of 14 studio albums, 5 compilation albums, 83 singles, and 2 live albums.

Albums include:

  • What’s the 411?
  • My Life
  • Share My World
  • Mary
  • No More Drama
  • Love and Life
  • The Breakthrough
  • Growing Pains
  • Stronger With Each Tear
  • My Life II: The Journey Continues (Act 1)
  • Mary Christmas
  • Think Like A Man Soundtrack
  • London Sessions

Conclusion

Mary J. Blige is considerably the ‘Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’. She has grown to become a multifaceted artist that took over the music industry and continues to do so. She has influenced so many individuals in acting and music. Her involvement and contribution to the world will never be forgotten and will always be a monumental part of both music and acting frontiers. 

Bibiography

Biography.com Editors. “Mary J. Blige Biography”.The Biography.com website. A&E Television Networks. https://www.biography.com/musician/mary-j-blige. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021

 

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Mary J. Blige”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 Jan. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mary-J-Blige. Accessed 3 March 2021.

 

Daniels, Karu F. “’Reminisce’: 25 Years Later, Mary J. Blige, Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Reigns Supreme.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 6 Sept. 2017, www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/ode-mary-j-blige-n798066.

 

“Learn More about Mary J Blige!!” www.maryjblige.com, web.archive.org/web/20151222083430/www.maryjblige.com/biography.

 

Lindsey, Treva B. “If You Look in My Life: Love, Hip-Hop Soul, and Contemporary African American Womanhood.” African American Review, vol. 46, no. 1, 2013, pp. 87–99. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23783603. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

 

“Mary J. Blige.” NPR, NPR, www.npr.org/artists/15285185/mary-j-blige.

 

Moody, Mia. “THE MEANING OF ‘INDEPENDENT WOMAN’ IN MUSIC.” ETC: A Review of General Semantics, vol. 68, no. 2, 2011, pp. 187–198. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42579113. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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