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Mary J. Blige Mary J. Blige Mary J. Blige Mary J. Blige Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige

Bronx, New York, United States

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• Dropped out of high school in the 11th grade, but eventually earned her GED.

• Her demo tape was a karaoke-type recording of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" that she made at a mall when she was 17. It wound up in the hands of Uptown Records exec Andre Harrell, who signed her.

• Sean Combs was her musical mentor, helping to produce her 1992 debut album, What's the 411?, and its follow-up, 1994's My Life.

• What's the 411? sold more than two million copies and helped establish what was then termed "New Jack Swing" (a blend of soul and hip-hop).

• Made her acting debut in a 1998 episode of The Jamie Foxx Show.

• In 2004, appeared in the off-Broadway play The Exonerated.

• Started her own record label, Matriarch Records.