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The early ’90s ushered in a new era in R&B music with the emergence of Mary J. Blige, with her soulful vocals combined with production that would be fit for most rap artists. Earning the rightful title of “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” we celebrate the Yonkers, New York native on her birthday.

Mary Jane Blige was born in 1971 in the Bronx, and raised primarily in the Schlobohm Projects in Yonkers. In past interviews, Blige described suffering abuse as a child. Her rough surroundings led her to find escape in the church and singing. But even with her growing talent, Blige succumbed to the temptations of the street at times.

A demo tape recording of hers made its way into the hands of record executive Andre Harrell, who promptly signed her and aligned the singer with an up-and-coming producer by the name of Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. Her debut album, “What’s The 411?” went triple platinum on the heels of hit singles “Real Love,” “Reminiscence,” and other hits.

Despite her successes, Blige was still plagued with issues and that pain became a hallmark of her early hit albums. However, she has since embraced her growth as a woman and artist, becoming an iconic music figure that still commands large crowds and fanfare to this day.

Blige has won well over 70 awards, including nine Grammys, 10 Billboard Music Awards, and four American Music Awards among her dozens of other honors. She has also moved into a solid acting career, culminating in an Oscar nomination for her role in 2017’s Mudbone.

Across her vast discography, Blige has released 13 studio albums, two live albums, and over 80 singles. Her first three album releases  went triple and quadruple platinum, part of her 5 other platinum and 3 gold plaques.


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