Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige
Mary Jane Blige (pron.: /ˈblaɪʒ/; born January 11, 1971), preferably known as Mary J. Blige, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and occasional rapper and actress. She is a recipient of nine Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards, and has recorded eight multi-platinum albums. She is the only artist with Grammy Award wins in R&B, Rap, Gospel, and Pop.
Blige started her musical career in 1992, releasing her debut album, What's the 411? on MCA Records and Uptown. With her tenth album, My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1) (2011), she has ten consecutive albums debut in the top 10 on the Billboard 200, and a total of 11 albums to debut top. Blige's work has defined the course of R&B/Hip-Hop music. My Life, in particular, is considered among the greatest albums ever recorded according to Rolling Stone (279/500), Time, and Vibe. For her part in combining hip hop and soul in the early 1990s and its subsequent commercial success, Blige received the World Music Awards "Legends Award". In 2007 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers awarded her its "Voice of Music" Award. ASCAP official Jeanie Weems stated that "[Blige's] music has been the voice of inspiration to women worldwide in both struggle and triumph." That same year, Time included her in its "Time 100" list, a collection of the year's 100 most influential individuals around the world. In a documentary by BET television, Mary J. Blige said that when she hears music, she sees colors. In other words she has synesthesia.
As of 2011, Blige has sold over 50 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. Billboard Magazine ranked Blige as the most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years. The magazine also lists her 2006 song "Be Without You" as the top R&B song of the 2000s, as it spent an unparalleled 15 weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 2011, VH1 ranked Blige as the 80th greatest artist of all time. Moreover, she is ranked number 100 on the list of "100 greatest singers of all time" by Rolling Stone magazine. In 2012, VH1 ranked Blige at number 9 in "The 100 Greatest Woman in Music."
Blige also earned high remarks for her work in film and fragrance. She 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, which was released to theaters in 2012. She is a recipient of two Golden Globe Awards nominations for her musical contributions to the films Bobby and The Help. She is named to play music icon Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic Nina. 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. The scent went on to win two FiFi Awards, including the prestigious "Fragrance Sales Breakthrough" award.
Known to the music world as the reigning "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", Mary would go on to be responsible for changing the construct of R&B music. Credited for the musical marriage of Hip-Hop and R&B, she introduced elements of hip-hop/rap into modern, contemporary R&B/pop music. Using old school hip-hop samples and loops, Mary would bridge "the gap between R&B and rap in a way that no female singer had before.". Ethan Brown of The New Yorker says that albums "What's the 411?" and "My Life", in hindsight, invented "the sample-heavy sound that reinvigorated urban radio and became a blueprint for nineties hip-hop and R&B.". Brown further concludes that Mary's "duets with the Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man and Ghostface Killah set the trend for collaborations between rappers and R&B songbirds like Mariah Carey.". Tom Horan of The Daily Telegraph comments that Blige, being a hugely influential figure in popular music, "invented what is now called R&B by successfully combining female vocals with muscular hip hop rhythm tracks. All over the world, that recipe dominates today's charts.". Called one of the "most explosive, coming-out displays of pure singing prowess" and "one of the most important albums of the nineties", What's the 411? saw Blige pioneer "the movement that would later become Neo soul, generating gripping songs that were also massive radio hits.".
Blige has received notable awards and achievements. In 2010, she was ranked 80th on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artist of All Time. Blige was listed as one of the 50 most influential R&B singers by Essence. Rolling Stone magazine ranked My Life at number 279 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was also included on Time's list of the 100 Greatest albums of All Time. Alternately called the "Queen of R&B" for her unprecedented success in the realm of R&B, Blige has amassed eight number one albums on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart — a record for a female artist. Blige is also the only artist to have won Grammy's in the R&B, Rap, Pop, and Gospel fields.
In 2001, Mary performed "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease
On May 9, 2008, The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc. (FFAWN) was inaugurated at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, New York. FFAWN's purpose is to inspire women "to reach their individual potential". The foundation offers scholarships and programs whose aim is to foster self-esteem and career development. The Mary J. Blige Center for Women has opened in Yonkers. May 27, 2012, myFoxla.com reported that this charity is being investigated and two lawsuits have been filed against it.
In 2008, Mary teamed up with Carol's Daughter executive Lisa Price to make a perfume which would be called "My Life". On July 31, 2010, Mary J. Blige was on 6 live televised Home Shopping Network specials to promote and sell her perfume. On that day, "My Life" sold a record breaking 60,000 + units. Her perfume was the first to sell over 60,000 bottles in one day on HSN. Also id="mce_marker" from each purchase was donated to FFAWN her foundation for women to send more women to college.