Mary Jane Blige (born January 11, 1971 in Bronx, New York, United States), is an American R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop singer, songwriter, rapper and actress. Known as The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and The Queen of R&B, she has sold over 75 million records worldwide.
In 1992, Blige released her debut album What's The 411?. The album sold 3.4 million copies on the strength of singles You Remind Me, Real Love, Reminisce, Sweet Thing, and Love No Limit. The album pioneered a new genre known as Hip-Hop Soul and is credited with influencing the marriage of Hip-Hop and R&B.
In 1994, Blige released her sophomore album My Life. Blige wrote or co-wrote fourteen of the seventeen album tracks. Supported by singles Be Happy, Mary Jane (All Night Long), I'm Goin' Down, and You Bring Me Joy, the album sold over three million copies and was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA in 1996. It has since been included in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Not Gon' Cry, a 1996 single written and produced by Babyface for Waiting To Exhale soundtrack (1995), peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Blige's highest charting single of the 1990s. The same year, Blige won her first Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for her performance on I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By by Method Man.
On April 22, 1997, Blige released her third album, Share My World on MCA Records. Blige cut ties with producers Sean Combs and Chucky Thompson and worked with the likes of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Rodney Jerkins, Babyface, R. Kelly, and Poke & Tone. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with sales of 240,000 copies, Blige's first to do so. Supported by singles Love Is All We Need, I Can Love You, Everything, Missing You, and Seven Days. Share My World was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA and sold nearly 4 million copies in U.S.
In Summer 1998, Blige embarked on the Share My World Tour, which resulted in a Gold-certified live album released later that year, simply titled The Tour. The album spawned one single, Misty Blue.
On August 17, 1999, Blige's fourth album, titled Mary was released. It marked a departure from her more familiar hip hop-oriented sound; this set featured a more earthy, whimsical, and adult contemporary-tinged collection of songs. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 239,000 copies in its first week. It spent 57 weeks on the chart and produced four charting singles: All That I Can Say, Deep Inside, Give Me You, and Your Child. Though not as successful as prior releases, the album still sold 2.1 million copies in the U.S. and was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album.
On August 28, 2001, MCA released Blige's fifth studio album, No More Drama. The album's first single, Family Affair (produced by Dr. Dre) became her first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for six consecutive weeks. Two other singles, Dance For Me and No More Drama were released, with the latter becoming a Top 20 hit. On January 29, 2002, the album re-released and featured three new songs, one being Rainy Dayz, which was released as a single and became another Top 20 hit for Blige. No More Drama has since sold 3.2 million copies in the U.S. and 5 million copies worldwide.
In 2003, Blige won her second Grammy (and first as a lead artist) for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "He Think I Don't Know".
On August 26, 2003, Blige's sixth album Love & Life was released on Geffen Records (which had absorbed MCA Records.) Blige reunited with producer Sean Combs for the album. Despite the album debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and becoming Blige's fourth consecutive UK top ten album, Love & Life became Blige's then lowest selling album selling 1 million copies. Still, it was nominated for Grammy Best Contemporary R&B Album.
Geffen Records released Blige's seventh studio album, The Breakthrough on December 20, 2005. For the album, Blige collaborated with J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Rodney Jerkins, will.i.am, Bryan-Michael Cox, 9th Wonder, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Raphael Saadiq, Cool and Dre, and Dre & Vidal. It debuted at number one on both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Selling 727,000 copies in its first week, it became the biggest first-week sales for an R&B solo female artist in SoundScan history. The official lead single, Be Without You peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, while peaking at number one on the R&B chart for a record-setting fifteen consecutive weeks. In March 2017, Billboard Magazine ranked "Be Without You" as the most successful R&B/Hip-Hop Song of all time. The song was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year and won the Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance categories at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Other singles included Top 40 Hit Enough Cryin, Top Five R&B song Take Me As I Am, and UK Top Three Hit One. The Breakthrough won the Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2007.
In December 2006, a compilation called Reflections (A Retrospective) was released. It contained many of Blige's greatest hits and four new songs, including the worldwide lead single We Ride (I See the Future). The album peaked at number nine in the U.S, selling over 170,000 copies in its first week, while reaching number forty in the UK. It has sold more than 1.6 million copies.
Blige's eighth studio album, Growing Pains, was released on December 18, 2007, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It sold 629,000 copies in its week and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album won Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2009. It spawned the Top 40 Hit Just Fine.
Blige's ninth studio album, Stronger with Each Tear, was released on December 21, 2009, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, selling 332,000 units in its first week of release. The album had sold 726,100 copies in the United States by April 2010, and was certified Gold by the RIAA on January 6, 2011.
Blige was honored at the 2009 BET Honors Ceremony and was paid tribute by Anita Baker and Monica.
Blige's tenth studio album, My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1), was released in November 2011. The album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, selling 156,000 copies in the first week; it was eventually certified Gold in 2012 and has sold 763,000 in the US.
A Mary Christmas, Blige's first holiday album, was released on October 15, 2013 through Matriarch and Verve Records. In early December, A Mary Christmas became Blige's 12th top ten album after it rose to #10 in its eighth week and was certified Gold by the RIAA.
Think Like A Man Too, which serves as Blige's 12th studio album, was released on June 17, 2014. On Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, the soundtrack album charted at number six, marking Blige's 16th top ten entry on the chart, tying her with Mariah Carey for the second-most top tens by a female artist.
Following her concert date at the Essence Festival, on July 9, 2014 it was announced Blige would move to London to experiment with a new sound for her new album. Blige spent a month in London recording her album in RAK Studios with a host of young British acts, including Disclosure, Naughty Boy, Emeli Sandé and Sam Smith. Twelve new songs, co-written and recorded by the singer, were released on November 24, 2014 on an album entitled The London Sessions. The album received acclaim and was included on many Best Albums of 2014 lists. The album debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200 and number one on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, with 55,000 albums sold and 2,000 shifted in album-equivalent units. It became her 13th top ten entry on the Billboard 200 and her tenth number one entry on Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums.
Following a heavily publicized divorce from her husband and manager Kendu Isaacs, Blige released her thirteenth studio album Strength of a Woman on April 28, 2017. Supported by Urban AC hit singles Thick of It and U + Me (Love Lesson), Strength of a Woman debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 on the issue dated ending May 20, 2017, with 78,000 album-equivalent units, selling 72,000 standard copies in its first week. It became Blige's highest-charting album since 2009's Stronger with Each Tear, and her tenth top five entry on the chart.
In 2017, Blige starred in the period drama film Mudbound directed by Dee Rees. Playing Florence Jackson, the matriarch of her family. For her performance in Mudbound, Blige was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also received nominations for Best Original Song for Mighty River, becoming the first person nominated for an Academy Award for acting and original song in the same year.
On July 12, 2018, Blige released a new single, titled Only Love.