MARY J. BLIGE
A Bronx native, Mary J. Blige was discovered while recording Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" at a karaoke studio in a local mall. Impressed with her powerful voice and soulful stylings, Uptown Records signed her and released her 1992 debut album What's the 411?
An R&B chart topper, the album paid tribute to Blige's love of classic soul with a cover of Chaka Khan's "Sweet Thing," adding an urban edge with cameos by artists such as Heavy D., Grand Puba and De La Soul.
"What's the 411?" went platinum, powered by the singles "Real Love" and "Reminisce," later resurrected as a rap hit by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth. MCA reissued a remix of the album the following year.
Blige's 1994 hip-hop flavored follow-up "My Life (MCA)" was equally well-received, scoring her another No. 1 R&B album and the hit single "Be Happy." Released in 1997, "Share My World" was another hit for Blige and debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. In the summer of 1998, Blige released her first live album, a 24-track CD titled "The Tour." By the time her next studio album, "Mary", came out in 1999, Blige exuded a classic soul style.
The more modern-sounding 2001 release, "No More Drama," was a deeply personal album. In 2003 she was reunited with P. Diddy, who produced the majority of that year's "Love and Life" album. The hit album, "The Breakthrough" followed two years later.