Mary J Blige: Things To Know About The R&B Diva


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Mary J Blige is one of the most popular R&B singers and rappers of all time. She has built a steady and successful career over the last 35 years.

Here Are Some Interesting Facts About Mary J Blige

Mary J Blige learned how to sing in a church

American singer and songwriter Mary J. Blige, like many other R&B stars, honed her singing skills in a children’s church choir. However, having matured, the singer proved with the incredible success of hits and albums that she differs from everyone else in her unique style and ability to adhere to her standards.

Mary J Blige grew up in a dysfunctional home 

A young Mary J Blige

On January 11, 1971, Cora and Thomas Blige gave birth to their second daughter, Mary Jay. The family then lived in the Bronx, a borough of New York. The parents failed to create prosperous conditions for their daughters. His mother, a nurse by profession, had problems with alcohol. His father, a former jazz bass player and Vietnam War veteran, suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder and often beat his wife.

Mary J Blige was sexually abused as a child

In search of a better life after her divorce, the mother left with her children, taking part in a housing project in Yonkers that offered public housing. But this time, little Mary had problems – years later she spoke about the sexual abuse she experienced at age 5.

The little girl’s outlet was going to church and music, which made her feel needed and special. As a teenager, the girl lost her temper: drugs and alcohol appeared in her world. She never finished high school.

The star managed to avoid an unenviable fate thanks to her talent and hard work. She remains close to her mother and older sister, who have provided support over the years.

Mary J Blige never received a formal music education

Nature gave Mary a strong voice (mezzo-soprano), but she did not receive a musical education. Nevertheless, with the support of her family, the girl participated in local singing competitions and even once, at the age of 8, won one of them.

Mary J Blige signed her first recording contract in 1988

Mary J Blige around the time of the recording of her first album

Having accidentally heard about a karaoke booth in a shopping center, the aspiring singer made her first demo recording of Anita Baker’s song Caught Up In The Rapture there. In 1988, she sent out a demo version, and finally she was able to sign a contract with Uptown Records. Until the early 90s, the artist performed as backing vocals, and in 1992, under the leadership of Puff Daddy, her first solo album, What’s The 411, was released.

The record, which mixed rhythm and blues, soul, and hip-hop, unexpectedly turned out to be commercially successful – its circulation exceeded 3 million copies. Tracks from the first disc, You Remind Me and Real Love, quickly became hits.

For the next album, My Life, the singer wrote songs herself or acted as a co-author. The tracks Be Happy, Mary Jane (All Night Long) and You Bring Me Joy also attracted the attention of listeners.

Mary J Blige rose to fame quickly

Mary J Blige (right) with Whitney Houston

Gradually, Blige began working with celebrities. Thus, she recorded the soundtrack “Not Gon’ Cry” for the film with Whitney Houston’s “Waiting to Exhale”. A little later, in a duet with George Michael, she sang the song As.

In 1996, Blige won her first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The jury highly appreciated the work of Mary and rapper Method Man – the single I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By.

Soon, the performer’s new disc, Share My World, took 1st place on the Billboard 200 chart. This time, fans especially liked the tracks Love Is All We Need and Everything.

Mary J Blige continued her success through the 2000s

In the early 2000s, Blige continued to release albums and videos. At this time, the song Family Affair appeared in her repertoire, which is now considered a classic of the hip-hop-soul genre and a hit of the decade.

In 2000, together with rapper Wyclef Jean, Blige recorded the track 911, which soared to the top of the charts. Another 4 years later, the artist duetted with Sting. The stars sang the song Whenever I Say Your Name, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

The album The Breakthrough (2005) stands apart in the singer’s discography. This album was awarded 3 Grammy awards in the categories “Best Album”, “Best Female Vocal Performance” and “Best Song”, which was the track “Be Without You”.

At first, after the success of this record, the singer’s new albums began to be released annually, then less often – once every 2-3 years. And after releasing Strength Of A Woman in 2017, the artist took a break from major projects for 5 years. Among the collaborations that brought Blige’s solo album to life are duets with Kanye West, Missy Elliott, and rapper Quavo. The album started third on the Billboard 200 chart.

Mary J Blige built a small but solid movie career

Gradually, Mary J Blige entered the world of movies. These were not only musical works that can be heard in the films “The Help” and “Think Like a Man.” The artist appeared in Tyler Perry’s dramatic comedy Mistakes of My Own (2009) and sang in the musical film Rock of Ages, where the main ensemble included Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russell Brand.

In 2013, the singer played the role of Dr. Betty Shabazz in the film Betty and Coretta, and 4 years later she starred in the film Mudbound Farm. In the war drama, Blige had a supporting role (Florence Jackson), but it was she who was nominated for an Oscar by film experts. Also in the film is Mary’s song Mighty River.

Mary J Blige has starred in TV series more than once, the most successful of which is How to Get Away with Murder and The Umbrella Academy, where Blige got a bright negative role.

Voice acting skills have been added to the singer’s collection of skills: she participated in the animated project “Trolls World Tour” (2020). Also in 2020, the actress played the roles of a police officer (the thriller “Dash Recorder”) and a drug lord (the series “Power in the Night City. Book Two: Phantom”).

Mary J Blige appeared in Aretha Franklin’s biography

A biographical film about the legendary Aretha Franklin appeared in theaters in 2021. The singer herself discussed the details at the stage of preparation of the film until she died in 2018, however, the film was released 3 years later. Mary J Blige played another jazz star in it – Dinah Washington.

Mary J Blige abused drugs

The successful start of her musical career did not help improve the singer’s personal life. On the contrary, the managers and producers who were next to her during this period encouraged addictions by supplying the ward with cocaine and booze.

Mary J Blige raised three stepchildren

Luckily, she fell in love with music director Kenda Isaacs, the first person who treated her with sympathy. The couple got married in 2003 and lived together until 2018. The artist raised her husband’s three children from his previous unions all this time. The couple have no children of their own.

Mary J Blige performed in a legendary Super Bowl Halftime show

Over the years of her career, Mary J. Blige has created a big name for herself, and now she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. The beginning of 2022 gave the singer the chance to perform in a respected company. At the music show during the Super Bowl, she was joined by Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Dr. Dre.

Mary J Blige during the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show

At the same time, the artist released her 14th studio album, Good Morning Gorgeous, the premiere of which left neither listeners nor experts indifferent. The album received 6 Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year and Best R&B Album.


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