50 things about "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", Mary J. Blige.
1. Mary Jane Blige is an American singer, songwriter, model, record producer, and actress.
2. Starting her career as a background singer on Uptown Records in 1989, Blige released her first album, What's the 411?, in 1992, and has released 11 studio albums since and made over 150 guest appearances on other albums and soundtracks.
3. A recipient of nine Grammy Awards, in addition to receiving a record of thirty Grammy nominations.
4. Mary J. Blige is one of few entertainers in history to have eight or more albums to reach multi-platinum status.
5. My Life, in particular, is considered among the greatest albums ever recorded according to Rolling Stone, Time, and Vibe.
6. For her part in combining hip-hop and soul in the early-1990s and its subsequent commercial success, Blige received the Legends Award at the World Music Awards.
7. Mary J. Blige also received the Voice of Music Award from performance rights organization ASCAP, with its official Jeanie Weems stating that "[Blige's] music has been the voice of inspiration to women worldwide in both struggle and triumph."
8. Mary J. Blige made Time magazine's "Time 100" list of influential individuals around the world in 2007.
9. As of 2013, Blige has sold more than 50 million albums and 25 million singles worldwide.
10. Billboard ranked Blige as the most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years.
11. The magazine also lists her 2006 song "Be Without You" as the top R&B song of the 2000s, as it spent an unparalleled 75 weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
12. In 2011, VH1 ranked Blige as the 80th greatest artist of all time
13. Moreover, she is ranked number 100 on the list of "100 greatest singers of all time" by Rolling Stone magazine.
14. In 2012, VH1 ranked Blige at number 9 in "The 100 Greatest Women in Music."
15. Mary J. Blige also earned high remarks for her work in film.
16. Mary J. Blige starred in the 2009 Tyler Perry box-office hit I Can Do Bad All By Myself and played a role in the film Rock of Ages (2012).
17. She received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her musical contribution to the film The Help.
18. In partnership with the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and Carol's Daughter, Blige released her "My Life" perfume. The perfume broke HSN records by selling 65,000 bottles during its premiere.
19. The scent went on to win two FiFi Awards, including the "Fragrance Sales Breakthrough" award.
20. Mary J. Blige was born on January 11, 1970 in The Bronx, New York. She is the second of four children born to parents Cora, a nurse, and Thomas Blige, a jazz musician.
21. At the age of five she moved to a house in Richmond Hill, Georgia. The small dirt road on which the house was located was later named Blige Road out of the family she moved back to New York and went to presume her fame later on.
22. For a short period of time Blige was in a small Yonkers band named Pride with band drummer Eddie D'Aprile.
23. Blige's mother was an avid fan of the philly soul, soul and R&B sound and constantly spun Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, and Jean Carne records when Blige was a child.
24. Mary J. Blige spent her early years in Richmond Hill, Georgia, where she sang in a Pentecostal church.
25. Mary J. Blige later moved to Schlobohm Apartments in Yonkers, New York, where she lived with her mother, older sister, five cousins, and two aunts.
26. As Blige grew into adolescence, whilst dealing with the absence with her father, Thomas, she begun to act accordingly amongst people and became addicted to partying.
27. In one instance, she was introduced to cocaine and alcohol, both of which played a major part in the early years of her career. This outright caused a rift between Blige and her mother.
28. By 1987, at seventeen, Blige dropped out of Roosevelt High School in the eleventh grade, leaving her mother to be infuriated and disappointed.
29. In the spring of 1988, Blige recorded an impromptu cover of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" at a recording booth in the Galleria Mall in White Plains, New York.
30. Her mother's boyfriend at the time later played the cassette for Jeff Redd, a recording artist and A&R runner for Uptown Records. Redd sent it to the president and CEO of the label, Andre Harrell. Harrell met with Blige and in 1989 she was signed to the label, becoming the company's youngest and first female artist.
31. Blige's early years consisted of session work for the likes of Jeff Redd, who introduced her during a live performance at the Apollo Theater.
32. A year later, she sang the hook on Father MC's hit "I'll Do 4 U" and was prominently featured, singing, at the end of the video.
33. Production for Blige's debut album began in 1991, with Sean "Puffy" Combs, who was at the time a 21-year-old A&R executive at Uptown Records, selected as the executive producer of the project.
34. When first introducing Mary J. Blige to Uptown Executives at a convention, Sean Combs originally nicknamed Blige the "Queen of Ghetto Love". However, Andre Harrell, Combs's supervisor, found the name unsatisfactory and subsequently dubbed her the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul".
35. Establishing Blige's niche in R&B became the paramount goal for Sean Combs. Given the fact that most female R&B acts during that time were very glamorous and refined, Combs purposely molded Blige into the exact opposite so as to underscore her uniqueness and maintain her connection to her urban roots.
36. From her fashion style to her sound, Blige was completely different from most female artists in the early 1990s. Baseball caps, combat boots, and baggy clothes constituted her signature style.
37. In regards to her music, on July 28, 1992, Uptown Records released What's the 411?. Blige's inaugural album ushered in a new era and genre of R&B music.
38. On November 29, 1994, Uptown Records released Blige's second album, My Life which was again overseen by Combs who also produced more than half of the album along with Washington DC native Carl "Chucky" Thompson (despite his having recently left the label), who, with Combs, co-produced all but one of the album's tracks, and took over as Blige's manager.
39. Unlike What's the 411?, Blige co-wrote a large body of the material, basing it on her personal life. In its first week, My Life debuted at number seven on the US Billboard 200, and debuting at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, for eight consecutive weeks.
40. The album received critical praise for Combs' production, Blige's songwriting and vocals, and today, is still regarded as one of the best albums in Blige's discography. In 2003, the album was ranked at #279 on the The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by magazine Rolling Stone.
41. In late 1995, Blige topped the Billboard Year-End chart toppers as Top R&B Album, Top R&B Album Artist, Top R&B Album Artist - Female, and Top-Hot Dance Maxi-Single Sales (for her collaboration with Method Man on "All I Need").
42. Mary J. Blige involved herself in several outside projects, recording a cover of Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" for the soundtrack to the FOX series New York Undercover, and "Everyday It Rains" (co-written by R&B singer Faith Evans) for the soundtrack to the hip hop documentary, The Show.
43. Mary J. Blige recorded the Babyface-penned and produced "Not Gon' Cry", for the soundtrack to the motion picture Waiting to Exhale.
44. Mary J. Blige gained her first two Grammy nominations, and won the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for her collaboration with Method Man.
45. In addition she and Faith Evans provided backing vocals to The Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance" single remix version, which at the time, became his biggest hit peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
46. On April 22, 1997, MCA Records (parent company to Uptown Records, which was in the process of being dismantled) released Blige's third album, Share My World.
47. In early 1998, Blige won an American Music Award for "Favorite Soul/R&B Album".
48. That summer, she embarked on the Share My World Tour, which resulted in a Gold-certified live album released later that year, simply titled The Tour.
49. Mary J. Blige won a Grammy for 'Best Female R&B Vocal Performance' for the song "He Think I Don't Know."
50. In April 2002, Blige performed with Shakira with the song "Love Is a Battlefield" on VH1 Divas show live in Las Vegas, she also performed "No More Drama" and "Rainy Dayz" as a duet with the returning Whitney Houston.