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Mary J. Blige
Feb 11 2021

#RockHall2021 Nominees


The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige flipped the R&B world on its head with her groundbreaking 1992 debut album What’s the 411? Since then, her anthems of resilience and empowerment have inspired a legion of loyal fans while influencing virtually every R&B artist of the last 20 years, including Aaliyah, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and SZA. Her career dominance reveals impressive longevity – each of her 13 albums have reached the Top 10, earning nine Grammys and selling more than 50 million albums.  


Blige signed with Uptown Records in the early 1990s, becoming the label’s youngest and first female artist. Her debut singlehandedly created the genre of hip-hop soul and produced number one R&B hits “Real Love” and “You Remind Me.” Her image – oversized jerseys, backwards baseball hats, and combat boots – introduced a new look to R&B music, and her lyrics embraced a realness that connected with fans, especially women. Her mid-1990s hits with the Notorious B.I.G., Method Man, and JAY-Z created the blueprints for R&B/hip-hop collaborations for decades to follow.    


Blige emerged as a songwriter with hits “Be Happy” and “My Life” from her sophomore effort My Life, while her 1996 hit “Not Gon’ Cry” showcased the emotional ache of Blige’s affecting vocals. The 2000s ushered in more success with number one hits “Family Affair” and Grammy-winning “Be Without You,” the latter of which spent 15 weeks at number one on the R&B charts. Blige continues to crank out hits, including her ode to unapologetic happiness “Just Fine,” the critically acclaimed London Sessions, and collaborations with Inductees Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, and Quincy Jones. In 2018, she received two Oscar nominations for the film Mudbound – the first person nominated for both acting and original song in the same year.     


Blige’s music echoes our experiences with love and life. She helps us move on, move out, and move up. She’s the much-needed soundtrack to our heartache, our vulnerability, and our courage to refuse to accept anything less than we deserve. Long Live Queen Mary J! 


Selected discography:   
“Real Love,” What’s the 411? (1992) • “I’m Goin’ Down,” “My Life,” My Life (1994) • “Not Gon’ Cry,” Share My World (1997) • “Your Child,” Mary (1999) • “Family Affair,” No More Drama (2001) • “Be Without You,” The Breakthrough (2005) • Strength of a Woman (2017) • “Mighty River,” Mudbound soundtrack (2017)  


SoundBites: Nominee Mary J. Blige

SoundBites: Nominee Mary J. Blige

#RockHall2021 Definitive Mary J. Blige

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