Iconic Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist, Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making her one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 32 nominations), two Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and a SAG nomination, among many other accolades, Blige has cemented herself as a global superstar. And in the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.
Born in the Bronx, New York, Blige began moving people with her soulful voice when at 18 she signed with Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records in 1989, becoming the MCA-distributed label’s youngest and first female artist. Influenced at an early age by the music of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight, Blige brought her own gritty, urban-rooted style—fusing hiphop, soul and honest, frank lyrics—to the forefront on her 1992 debut album What’s the 411?The multi-platinum set, executive produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs, quickly spun off several hits, including two No. R&B No. 1s: You Remind Me and Real Love.
Blige helped redefine R&B and began forging a unique niche for herself on the more personal second album, 1994’sMy Life. Blige is an artist that uses her gift of song to lift spirits and touch lives while bringing her heart, soul and truth to those who are willing to listen. She is loved for her passionate, chart-topping hits like “Be Without You”, “No More Drama” and “Family Affair” all of which have made her a force in music.
And thus began the Blige movement: connecting legions of fans that identify with and have accompanied her throughout her personal travails and growth—all fearlessly related through her music. Each subsequent album reads like a chapter from an autobiography: Share My World (1997), Mary (1999), No More Drama (2001), Love & Life(2003), the multiple Grammy-winning and hit-spewing The Breakthrough (2005), Growing Pains (2007) and Stronger with Each Tear (2009). Along the way, she’s lined up a string of hit singles, including Not Gon’ Cry, Love Is All We Need, Seven Days, All That I Can Say, Family Affair and Just Fine.
In October 2013, Blige for Matriarch Records/Verve Records/Interscope Records released her first-ever holiday album titled, A Mary Christmas in collaboration with legendary producer, David Foster. Blige’s holiday album features her soulful interpretation of classic holiday tunes including Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and The Christmas Song. Blige is joined by a number of A-list guests, such as Barbra Streisand, and duets with Jessie J, The Clark Sisters and Spanish collaboration with Mark Anthony.
Blige, who co-penned I Can See in Color for 2009’s Precious soundtrack, has branched out into acting. She appeared in Tyler Perry’s dramatic comedy, I Can Do Bad All By Myself in 2009 and starred in Rock of Ages, alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russel Brand in 2012. Taking on a more dramatic role, in 2013, she starred as Betty Shabazz in the TV movie Betty & Coretta, a biographical story about the widows of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. Then in November 2013, Mary J. Blige starred as the mysterious guardian angel “Platinum Fro,” in the holiday musical film drama Black Nativity. Ramping up her acting career, Blige played Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, on the NBC musical, The Wiz LIVE!
In 2014, Blige released her 13th studio album, The London Sessions, which reached the No.1 position on the Top R&B Albums chart and included a behind-the-scene documentary of her recording sessions that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2015.
Blige toured with Maxwell on The King and Queen of Hearts World Tour in 2016 and released her 14th album titledStrength of a Woman on April 28, 2017. Her single, “Thick of It,” held the number 1 spot on the Urban AC Chart for 16 consecutive weeks after its release in November. Blige also scored her latest #1 single off this album with “U + Me (Love Lesson).” Last May, VH1 premiered a documentary from Blige titled STRENGTH OF A WOMAN: AN ALBUM DOCUMENTARY. The film gives fans a close and intimate look at the making of her album, with studio footage and exclusive interviews with Blige, as well as the inspiration behind the writing and direction.
Most recently, Blige starred as Florence Jackson in the 2017 Netflix breakout film MUDBOUND, to which she has received critical acclaim. Next up, Blige will star in the upcoming Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy,” which begins production later this month in Toronto. This will mark Blige’s first regular role on a TV series, having previously appeared in guest roles on numerous shows such as ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder and Black-ish as well as the FOX musical drama Empire.