Matrix Monday: Presenter Mary J. Blige

Announcing the Fourth of Our 2014 Matrix Award Presenters
Mary J. Blige
Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer, Actress
Presenting to Queen Latifah

Mary J. Blige

Iconic Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist, Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment and one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 31 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, she is a global superstar. The singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base -- responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.
 
Born in the Bronx, New York, Mary J. began moving people with her soulful voice when at 18 she signed with Andre Harrell's Uptown Records in 1989, becoming the MCA-distributed label's youngest and first female artist. Influenced at an early age by the music of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight, Mary J. brought her own gritty, urban-rooted style -- fusing hip-hop, soul and honest, frank lyrics -- to the forefront on her 1992 debut album What's the 411?. The multi-platinum set, executive produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs, quickly spun off several hits, including two R&B No. 1s: "You Remind Me" and "Real Love."
 
As the Queen of R & B Soul, Mary J. helped redefine R&B and began forging a unique niche for herself on the more personal second album, 1994's My Life. She is an artist that uses her gift of song to lift spirits and touch lives while bringing her heart, soul and truth to those who are willing to listen. She is loved for her passionate, chart-topping hits like "Be Without You," "No More Drama" and "Family Affair" all of which have made her a force in music.  
 
"When I first went into the studio to work on "My Life II" it occurred to me how strong I've  become. And that what has made me strong is not just the joy and great things happening in my life but the trials and difficulties that cause you to want to move out of that uncomfortable place to get to the next stage. With the first "My Life" album, I didn't have that understanding. I just did not know why I was suffering so bad, why I was hurting" notes Mary J.   
 
And thus began the Mary J. Blige movement: connecting legions of fans that identify with and have accompanied her throughout her personal travails and growth-all fearlessly related through her music. Each subsequent album reads like a chapter from an autobiography: Share My World (1997), Mary (1999), No More Drama (2001), Love & Life (2003), the multiple Grammy-winning and hit-spewing The Breakthrough (2005), Growing Pains (2007) and Stronger with Each Tear (2009). Along the way, she's lined up a string of hit singles, including "Not Gon' Cry," "Love Is All We Need," Seven Days," "All That I Can Say," "Family Affair" and "Just Fine."
 
On October 15, 2013, Matriarch Records/Verve Records/Interscope Records released her 11th studio album titled, A Mary Christmas, making it her first-ever holiday album and collaboration with legendary producer and Chairman of The Verve Music Group, David Foster. Her holiday album features her soulful interpretation of classic holiday tunes including "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and "The Christmas Song." She is joined by a number of A-list guests, starting with Barbra Streisand, who duets with Mary J. on "When You Wish Upon A Star," along with Jessie J on "Do You Hear What I Hear" The Clark Sisters join Mary J. on "The First Noel" and "Noche de Paz," is a Spanish collaboration with Mark Anthony.
 
Mary J., who co-penned "I Can See in Color" for 2009's "Precious" soundtrack, is also ramping up her acting career. In 2012, she starred in the Adam Shankman-directed Rock of Ages, the theatrical version of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical with stars Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta Jones. Following this, Mary J. starred as Betty Shabazz in "Betty & Coretta" a biographical story about the widows of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. Additionally, in November 2013 Mary J. starred as the mysterious guardian angel "Platinum Fro," in holiday musical film drama Black Nativity.