Mary J. Blige
A powerful voice backed by heartfelt lyrics and a no-nonsense attitude, Mary J. Blige deservedly earned her title as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. With legendary music producer Sean "Puffy" Combs mentoring her early career, Blige blazed to the top of the pop and R&B charts with her debut album What's the 411? (1992), which yielded the hit singles "Real Love" and "Sweet Thing." The Grammy Award-winning vocalist blended her gritty, urban roots with the sophistication and grace of soulful belters like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight. Not one to shy away from exposing her dark past, including a history of addiction and physical abuse, Blige sang about her pain and encouraged millions to face their own harsh realities with her platinum-selling albums such as No More Drama (2001) and The Breakthrough (2005). Blige's critically acclaimed albums were filled with poignant messages of life, love and self-acceptance, with each song delivered with passion and power, all of which contributed to her success as one of the greatest vocalists of her generation.