Mary J. Blige (1971) American soul artist
Everything's not about me. If it's relating to you, I could be singing about you. I could be singing about all of us, which I am.
One of the 1990's most succesfull soul singers was born on January 11, 1971 in Atlanta. Capricorn Mary J. Blige was raised in Brooklyn. Her father was a jazz musician. After singing in the church, dropping out of high school and surviving the ghetto life, Mary became a huge star with her first single: You Remind Me received the gold selling status in 1992.
What made Mary a star was she really didn't give a fuck, 'cause she'd been through so much. She's so totally distinct, she's the greatest artist I've ever worked with.
For her debut album there was even the double platinum stamp of honour, as What's The 411? became a Top 10 smash, containing the hit singles Reminisce and Love No Limit besides You Remind Me and a remake of Chaka Khan's Sweet Thing. The next year, Mary J. Blige received an American Music Award nomination for Favorite Female Artist Soul, Rhythm & Blues, but she was not enjoying her life.
I had lost me totally. So much that I didn't even want to find myself. There was a lot of sadness going on, and you can hear on the My Life album I was not happy at all.
Three million copies were sold of Mary's second album My Life in the United States (in other words: triple platinum), with R&B hits like Be Happy and I'm Goin' Down. She could also be heard on the New York Undercover soundtrack, performing Aretha Franklin's (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman. Her duet with Method Man called I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By got her a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1996, proving the multi-functionality of the soul singer. Mary's success came clearly from her ability to blend pure R&B vocals, hip hop beats, and streetwise appearances. Not surprisingly she was nicknamed Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.
I'm nervous about Share My World like I was nervous about the first one. I just hope people accept it - it's all me.
Despite the huge selling figures, Mary J. Blige's first number 1 album was her third: Share My World (1997). Its single Love Is All We Need resulted in her 5th Top 10 hit, followed by Everything. The CD earned her an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album, while Mary was also nominated for Favorite Female Artist Soul, Rhythm & Blues, a Grammy Award for R&B Album and two Soul Train Awards for Best R&B Soul Single (Everything) and Best R&B/Soul Album. She simultaneously won a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for R&B Soul Album of the Year. In the same year Mary J. Blige released a live (gold selling) CD The Tour covering her 1997-98 tour, including covers of Aretha Franklin's Daydreaming and Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue.
There's so much I learned about Mary from working with her. She's extremely intelligent, real quick, has a nearly photographic memory. And she knows and loves black music. She knows everybody and not just their hits. She's like a DJ. There aren't that many producers who know what she knows.
Lean On Me with Kirk Franklin & The Family, R. Kelly, U2, and Crystal Lewis resulted in another Grammy Award nomination in 1999, for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, DMX, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Nas, and K-Ci & JoJo all contributed to her next album Mary, on which she addresses the troubles in her childhood:
In the ghettos there's a lot of people dying every day, people getting shot for no apparent reason, people gambling in the hallways and getting killed. When I was living in Yonkers, someone got shot over a dime.
She also participated in NetAid and made a duet called As with George Michael, resulting in nominations for two MTV Europe Music Awards (Best Video and Best Song). The 2000 cooperation with Aretha Franklin in Don't Waste Your Time resulted in another Grammy nomination, in the same year winning a bunch of important soul awards. The people in the streets will remember her Top 10 hit single 911 with Wyclef Jean, which - not surprisingly - resulted in another series of awards.
People can copy her, but no one can match her emotion.
In August 2001, Mary released her latest album No More Drama, immediately storming the album parades. The funky single Family Affair has reached number 1 in several countries.
Right now, I'm having more fun than I've ever had in my life. I used to be down-and-out. That's all I was, just sad. And for what? It takes so much energy to be negative.