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Music, Songs and Lyrics
Artist Profile
Blige, Mary J.
Website: http://www.mjblige.com

Audio Files

Performed by:
Blige, Mary J.

WAVE Christmas In The City



Biography

"Who's the most innovative female singer of our decade?" a male voice asks at the beginning of Mary J. Blige's 1997 release, Share My World. Blige has roots in hip-hop, so this question is, of course, a thinly disguised boast to which the answer could only be Blige. But the singer's bravado is uncommonly deserved, because even while her innovations are those of a follower as much as a leader (see Aretha Franklin and, more recently, Neneh Cherry and Queen Latifah), her impact has been undeniable, as she's updated the roll of the black diva for the hip-hop age and injected New Jack swing with a much-needed dose of estrogen.

Barely out of her teens, Blige arrived as a prodigy of Sean "Puffy" Combs, combining b-girl sass and sexy soul power in the hip-hop/R&B hybrids of her 1992 debut, What's The 411? Her presence was striking, partly because she was a woman playing the boys' game, talking trash and handling the mic like a phallic prop. But Blige, with her husky voice, is a commanding chanteuse. And with the stunning Share My World she shed herself of Combs's influence to create one of the most endearing rhythm and blues records of the decade.

Blige took advantage of the momentum generated by Share My World by releasing a live album, The Tour, in 1998, followed by Share My World's much-anticipated studio follow-up, Mary, in 1999.

In 2001, Blige returned with No More Drama, one of the most satisfying efforts of her career. Working with a stellar cast of writers and producers, including Missy Elliott, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis, Blige wrote songs that managed to be simultaneously deeply personal and universal. That sort of appeal showed on the charts, as the album reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In addition, the single "Family Affair" was a crossover smash, topping several singles charts.

For Love & Life, released in the summer of 2003, Blige reunited with Sean P. Diddy Combs. The pair's 1995 collaboration, "I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By," netted a Grammy award. Since then, Blige had not only developed as a performer, but as a writer. Blige co-wrote 17 of Love & Life's 18 tracks, and severed as co-executive producer with P. Diddy. Other guests include Method Man and 50 Cent.

Blige is too young yet to shoulder comparisons to patron saints such as Franklin or Patti LaBelle, but her work thus far has suggested that someday she will. In the meantime, we can take delight in the way she's re-infused her genre with the powers of ache, love and womanhood.

This Biography was written by Brett Anderson.




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