Legal name: Mary Jane Blige
Also performs as: Brook (Mary J. Blige's rapper alter-ego)
Mary Jane Blige ( BLYZHE; born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper and actress. Often referred to as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul" and "Queen of R&B", Blige has won 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. She has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards, including one for her supporting role in the film Mudbound (2017) and another for its original song "Mighty River", becoming the first person nominated for acting and songwriting in the same year.
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 her 1994 album My Life are featured on the 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", "You Remind Me", "I'm Goin' Down", "Not Gon' Cry", "Be Without You", "Just Fine" 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 (2001), Rock of Ages (2012), Betty and Coretta (2013), Black Nativity (2013), her Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated breakthrough performance as Florence Jackson in Mudbound (2017), Trolls World Tour (2020), Body Cam (2020), The Violent Heart (2021) and co-starring as jazz singer Dinah Washington in the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect (2021). 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.
She received a Legends Award at the World Music Awards in 2006, and the Voice of Music Award from ASCAP in 2007. Billboard ranked Blige as the most successful female R&B/Hip-Hop artist of the past 25 years. In 2017, Billboard magazine named her 2006 song "Be Without You" as the most successful R&B/Hip-Hop song of all time, as it spent an unparalleled 15 weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and over 75 weeks on the chart. VH1 ranked Blige as the 80th greatest artist of all time in 2011 and ninth in "The 100 Greatest Women in Music" list in 2012. Blige became a first-time nominee for the 2021 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2023, Rolling Stone ranked her as the 25th greatest singer of all-time.