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Mary Jane Blige turns 41 today!
Born in Bronx, New York, Blige is the second child of a nurse and jazz musician Thomas Blige. She was exposed by classic R&B singers Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin in her early years, and found her love in music. She spent her early years singing for a Pentecostal church she used to attend.
She began her album production in 1992, where she worked with Sean "Puffy" Combs, who was A&R executive in Uptown Records, and gave her a moniker of "Queen of Ghetto Love." The name was later changed by Combs' supervisor into "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul."
Sean Combs, as one of the key persons in the beginning of Blige's career, tried his best to create a specific niche for Blige. In that era, most female R&B acts were associated with glamour and luxury - a point that Combs wished to go against. The rapper molded her into a very different female R&B artist who had the signature style of baseball caps, baggy clothes, and combat boots.
Ever since that moment, the wife of record industry executive Martin Kendu Isaacs had produced consecutive 10 albums debuted in Billboard 200, and had defined the line of R&B/Hip-Hop music.
The magazines Rolling Stone, Time, and Vibe called her second album My Life one of the best albums ever recorded. Her attempt of combining hip-hop and soul in 1990s was called a big success, and she received the "Legend Award" World Music Award for it. In 2007, she received the Music Video award from American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. In the same year, she was named one of 100 most influential people by Time.
As the most successful female R&B artist, ranked by the Billboard Magazine, Blige had so far produced eight multi-platinum album, selling 50 million albums and 15 million singles.
She had distinguished herself as the only R&B artist who earned nine Grammy awards.