by Tim Gordon
Happy Birthday to the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, singer, songwriter, and actress, Mary J. Blige. She is the recipient of nine Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, four American Music Awards, twelve NAACP Image Awards, and twelve Billboard Music Awards, including the Billboard Icon Award, as well as two Black Reel Awards.
She has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards, including one for her supporting role in the film Mudbound and another for its original song “Mighty River”, becoming the first person nominated for acting and songwriting in the same year.
Blige began her career began in 1988 when she was signed to Uptown Records by its founder Andre Harrell. Blige then began background vocal work for other artists on the label such as Father MC and Jeff Redd. In 1992, Blige released her debut album, What’s the 411?, which is credited for introducing the mix of R&B and hip hop into mainstream pop culture. Its 1993 remix album became the first album by a singer to have a rapper on every song, popularizing rap as a featuring act. Both What’s the 411? and My Life are featured on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and the latter on Time magazine’s All-Time 100 Albums.
Throughout her career, Blige went on to release 14 studio albums, including four Billboard 200 number-one albums. Her biggest hits include “Real Love”, “Not Gon’ Cry”, “Be Without You” and the Billboard Hot 100 number-one single “Family Affair”.
Blige has also made a successful transition to both the television and movie screens, with supporting roles in films such as Prison Song, Rock of Ages, Betty and Coretta, Black Nativity, her Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated breakthrough performance as Florence Jackson in Mudbound, Trolls World Tour (2020), Body Cam, The Violent Heart and co-starring as jazz singer Dinah Washington in the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect. In 2019, Blige starred as Cha-Cha on the first season of the Netflix television series The Umbrella Academy. She currently stars as Monet Tejada in the spin-off of the highly-rated TV show drama Power in Power Book II: Ghost.