Mary J. Blige (born 11.1971) Mary J. Blige is an American singer / rapper and songwriter. She has sold over 40 million records.
Breakthrough: In 1988, Mary J. Blige recorded a cover of 'Caught Up In the Rapture' by Anita Baker, in a shopping mall booth. The tape made its way to the president of Uptown Records, Andre Harrell. In 1989, Mary was signed to the label and became its first female artist.
Initially, Blige acted as a backing singer for Uptown's more established artists. In 1991, she performed on Showtime at the Apollo, singing with Jeff Redd. In 1992, Blige featured in her first national appearance, performing with Grand Puba on Yo! MTV Raps.
Mary J. Blige's debut album was overseen by Sean 'Puffy' Combs, an A&R executive for Uptown Records at the time.
What's the 411? was released in 1992. Its debut single, 'You Remind Me' reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Its follow-up 'Real Love' became Blige's first top 10 hit, making it to number seven. What's the 411? spawned What's the 411? Remix, which was released whilst Mary worked on her second album.
In the Limelight: My Life was released in 1994, again under the watchful eye of Sean Combs, who had also taken on the role of Blige's manager.
'Be Happy' was the first single from My Life and reached number 29. Next was a cover of Rose Royce's 'I'm Going Down', which was Blige's first major UK hit, reaching number 12.
Suge Knight, signed Mary to Suge Management as a consultant and in 1995, she became involved in a number of outside projects, such as recording a cover of '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman' for the FOX network TV series New York Undercover. She also worked with Method Man on the Grammy Award-winning 'I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need to Get By'. Early in 1996, she released 'Not Gon' Cry', written by Babyface, for the film Waiting to Exhale.
In 1997, Share My World, Blige's third album, was released. A number of producers had taken Sean Combs' place, including R. Kelly and Jimmy Jam. The album debuted at number one in the US and launched five hit singles, including 'Love Is All We Need' (featuring Nas), 'I Can Love You' (featuring Lil' Kim) and 'Everything'. The accompanying tour gave birth to the Gold-certified live album, The Tour.
Blige's fourth album, Mary, was released in 1999. The album featured a number of famous guests, including Elton John (on 'Deep Inside'), Lauryn Hill (on 'All That I Can Say') and Aretha Franklin (on 'Don't Waste Your Time').
In 2001, No More Drama was released, spawning her first number one single, the Dr. Dre produced 'Family Affair'. The album sold almost two million copies but her label, MCA, repackaged the album with a new cover and track-listing, including 'Rainy Dayz', featuring Ja Rule. The song 'He Think I Don't Know' won Blige a 'Best Female R&B Vocal Performance' Grammy.
Love & Life, released in 2003, saw Mary working with Combs again. The album debuted at number one in the US but its lead single, 'Love @ 1st Sight' received a disappointing response, as did her duets with Sting and Eve.
The Breakthrough (2005) featured will.i.am, Dre & Vidal and Bryan Michael Cox and has sold over seven million copies across the globe. Her duet with U2 on their song 'One' became Blige's biggest hit in the UK.
In 2006, Blige released a compilation entitled Reflections - A Retrospective as well as a duet with Ludacris, 'Runaway Love', for his album Release Therapy. She also appeared with Aretha Franklin on the soundtrack to Bobby, singing 'Never Gonna Break My faith', which won a Grammy for 'Best Gospel Performance'.
Growing Pains (2007), was Blige's eighth studio album. The Grammy-nominated 'Just Fine' saw a return to the UK charts for Blige. 'Work That' was used to accompany an iTunes commercial.
In 2008, Mary J. Blige embarked on a tour with Jay-Z and they released a duet, 'You're Welcome'.
After a bit of reflection, 'Coming to London' just sounded so odd. We live in a world now, after all, where artists need nothing more than an internet connection to be able to collaborate with each other, meaning Mary J Blige's announcement that she was forsaking New York for Britain's capital had something of a twentieth century ring about it. Countering, the singer explained that this wasn't some kind of Royal engagement from her perspective, and that she wanted to use the energy and creative vibe generated by the Thames to give her music a regenerative makeover. With the cutting edge being provided by a clutch of talented young froth from around the city, 'The London Sessions' are the result.
For much of its first third, it's easy for the listener to ask themselves why she bothered to make the trip. Opener 'Therapy' - co-written with cherubic, Grammy scoffing Sam Smith - is a sardonic, bare bones number that leaves few stones unturned lyrically, but opens up no new doors. It's followed by 'Doubt', a slightly overblown tale of ultimate redemption clearly indebted to gospel but again, not really very well... Shoreditch. Make no mistake, this is Blige doing what she does impeccably, her voice still honeyed where it needs to be, raw in other moments, but again the pattern of living within her glossy means continues through 'Not Loving You' and 'When You're Gone'; both polished, mid-tempo and full of poise but, equally, neither being anything which breaks her mould.
Blige in the build up had spoken about immersing herself in the underground house sounds of the nineties, beats which outfits like Disclosure and Gorgon City have reproduced so faithfully over the last couple of years, and the breakthrough finally comes on 'Right Now', produced and co-written by Blige with the former (MJB gets those joint chops on every song) but bearing their spidery minimalism throughout. Finally, with any inhibitions abandoned, what follows is a kind of whistle-stop genre tour, from the rave squawks and big piano vamps of 'My Loving', the crisp two step of 'Pick Me Up' through to the lush disco of 'Follow'. Despite the diversity, each of these you think speak more to the singer's open mindedness and versatility rather than a sea change in her philosophy; when in Rome and all that, rather than casting aside a formula which has helped sell more than 50 million albums worldwide.
Continue reading: Mary J. Blige - The London Sessions Album Review
Mary J. Blige - A Mary J. Blige superfan was left speechless when what she thought was a live-streamed performance of Mary J. Blige from New York turned out to be Mary performing live in front of her - at Village Underground in Shoreditch. The queen of R&B partnered with MasterCard to treat life-long fan, Rana Otemro, to the ultimate Priceless Surprise. Twenty-nine year-oldRana from Watford was led to believe that she was one of thirty fans invited to attend a special live-streamed performance at Village Underground in London, after the star identified her as a superfan through social media. As part of the ruse, Rana received a direct video message from Mary J. Blige 'from New York' to congratulate her on being chosen to attend the event. Unbeknown to Rana, Mary had flown over to London to surprise her in person. As Rana watched the screen, Mary stepped out from behind it and performed her song 'Nobody But You' in person before inviting her up on stage and singing to her personally. Rana described the experience as: "The best moment of my life. Mary J. Blige is my icon - her music is so honest and real. When she appeared in front of my eyes, I had to turn around and check that my friends were seeing the same thing as me - I really couldn't believe it. The moment that she asked me to come up on stage as she sang was incredible." Mary J. Blige, who recently performed with Sam Smith at the Grammy's, said: "My fans inspire me to make music, they are the reason I do what I do. It was amazing to be part of this experience and surprise someone who has dedicated so much support to me - I have never surprised a fan on this scale before. It was also great to be back in London after recording my most recent album here." Shaun Springer, Head of Brand and Sponsorship, MasterCard UK & Ireland comments: "Mary J. Blige is a genuine musical legend so to be able to set up such an intimate Priceless Surprise for Rana is really something quite unique. UK music fans shou at Grammy - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 18th February 2015