Mary J. Blige cut her demo in a karaoke booth at a mall in White Plains, New York. The tape, a rendition of Anita Baker's "Caught Up In The Rapture," was then passed to Uptown Records president, Andre Harrell, by a friend of Mary's mother's boyfriend, James Dillard. Harrell immediately signed her to a record deal.
Before Mary J. Blige signed a record deal, she worked as a directory assistant. That job, in turn, would inspire the title of her debut album, What's The 411? If this has you baffled, you were probably born after 1990: 411 was what you dial to get a phone number. You called it, and a human (like Mary) would answer and try to find the number for you. It was known as "calling information." The phrase "What's the 411" became a clever way of asking what was going on.
Mary J. Blige is a high school dropout. She dropped out of the eleventh grade at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, New York. She would, however, go on to get her GED in 2010. One of Mary's regrets is that she didn't finish high school when she had the chance.
Mary J. Blige has appeared in various TV shows and movies, including The Jamie Foxx Show, Strong Medicine and Ghost Whisperer. She also landed a roll in an off Broadway play called The Exonerated. Mary made an appearance in the Tyler Perry film, I Can Do Bad All By Myself.
In 2010 Mary J. Blige released a line of sunglasses based on specific facets of her own life. It launched with four styles with up to twenty different color combinations.
Sean "Puffy" Combs, who would later be known as P. Diddy and then Diddy, was her producer and collaborator, and takes a lot of credit for her success. He found a niche for her somewhere between Rap and R&B, and called her the "Queen of Hip Hop Soul."
Mary J. Blige won a Grammy award in 1996 for her duet with Wu Tang member Method Man. The two performed the song "I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need." The pair won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
For the 2007 Grammy Awards, Mary J. Blige received a total of seven nominations, more than any other artist or group that year. Of her seven award nominations at the 2007 Grammy awards, Mary took home three trophies.
Her tour rider reveals that she checks in hotels as "Mrs. Jefferson" and requires an absolute silence to relax as she specifies that no connecting rooms to her suite shall be rented, the suite shall be away from elevators, ice or vending machines, no vacuum cleaners or other noisy equipment shall be used by housekeeping staff near her room. The rider also notes that if there is some construction or renovation process taking place in or near the hotel, this will lead to relocation at the expense of the hotel.
Mary J. Blige has also experienced the sweet smell of success in the world of fragrances, having won two FiFi awards in 2011 for her perfume, My Life. The FiFi Awards are an annual event sponsored by The Fragrance Foundation and the R&B songstress won her honors for Fragrance Sales Breakthrough and Direct to Consumer. Blige told The Guardian: "I won the award because we sold it through [shopping channel] HSN and we did 65,000 bottles on our first day. I have the award in a room with my other awards: nine Grammys, nine Billboard awards, an MTV award … they're all in there!"
Mary's jazz musician father, Thomas Blige, gave his daughter her first music lessons. "He's super smart," she told Billboard magazine. "He taught me how to hold my note with other singers, like if we were singing harmonies."
Mary J. Blige's early years in the music industry consisted of laying down background vocals for Uptown Records artists. In 1989 she sang the hook on Father MC's hit "I'll Do 4 U," which peaked at #20 on the Hot 100.
She had a volatile six-year relationship with Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey of the R&B group Jodeci.
Mary J Blige made Oscars history in 2018 when she received Academy nominations for both Best Supporting Actress for the film Mudboun and Best Original Song for the track "Mighty River" from the same movie.