10 Things You Didn’t Know About Birthday Girl Mary J. Blige
Today is Mary J. Blige’s 47th birthday, and the iconic singer has come a long way from her early days in Richmond Hill, Georgia, and her developmental years in Yonkers.
We know the ways in which her style has evolved, as well as her music, but there aren’t many small, fun things we know about Blige. Maybe that’s because she comes off serious a lot of the time — except when she’s busting a move. So why not get to know more about the things she’s done and loved and been through over the last 47 years? Check out 10 things you probably didn’t know about Mary J. Blige in honor of her birthday, and her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which she was awarded with today.
She tried to sneak press-on nails and lashes while filming Mudbound.
In an interview with The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah, Mudbound director Dee Rees said that while she was able to convince Blige to go makeup-free to play matriarch Florence Jackson, that didn’t mean the singer didn’t have her moments where she tried to fit beauty essentials in the frame.
“She tried to sneak in some eyelashes every now and then, or sneak in some nails. I’m like, no gel tips for Florence,” Rees said. “I was like, ‘What is that in the frame? Is that a f–king French manicure?!'”
Way before Mudbound, she made her acting debut on The Jamie Foxx Show.
It was during the 1998 “Papa Don’t Preach” episode where Blige played the daughter of Ronald “Mr. Biggs” Isley. She played Ola Mae, the daughter of a strict pastor who can seriously sing:
Mary doesn’t talk about that scar under her eye.
When asked about it by CNN in 2004 when they did a profile on the singer , journalist Emil Wilbekin said, “From what I vaguely understand about the scar on Mary’s face is that it’s something that happened when she was young.”
“It is a very traumatic experience,” he continued. “It is something that she is either made a pact with herself or with someone else to never talk about.”
As for Blige, she made it clear where she stands on the subject during that same profile: “I don’t talk about that.”
She’s a great poplocker.
During a Rolling Stone interview in 2007, the singer was asked about her memories of parties back in Yonkers, New York when she was growing up. As it turns out, Mary’s dancing skills go far beyond the bop we all see her do while performing.
“I was really, really good. I was a poplocker. I used to battle guys in the hallways,” she said. “And as far as the electric boogie and all that goes, I was nice. I still think I’m nice. I wouldn’t do it in public, but if I did, I wouldn’t embarrass myself.”
The “No More Drama” cameos were for an important reason.
If you thought the song was deep and emotional, so was the video. Blige reportedly asked famous friends Mariah Carey and P. Diddy to appear in the clip for the hit song because around the time that it was to be made, both figures had gone through their own public drama. Carey with her emotional breakdown, Diddy with his court battles.
To make it even more emotional, the video was shot on Sept. 12, 2001, just a day after the terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
Wow!!!! 25 years ago when I walked into this business I had no idea what was going to happen. I just know I wanted to sing. Deep in my heart I knew I wanted to touch the lives of women and people. I've done that 25 years later and I'm still doing that by the grace and mercy of God on a level I never even imagined. Still relevant and strong in what I do and I'm so grateful for all the people who came into my life and stayed for the hard times, celebrations, humiliations and triumphs. I got love for you beyond what you can feel. To my family who loves me no matter what and to my fans that heard my call, heard my cry, saw me fall, saw me get back up, saw my strength, pray for me and fight for me. For that I LOVE you so deep. By the GRACE and MERCY of God I still REIGN as QUEEN and I'm so grateful because now I know what that means. 💜👑👑💜 #MJB25 #WhatsThe411 #StrengthOfAWoman
One of her pre-fame jobs inspired an album title.
Before she was a solo star, she was in a band.
Mary loved collaborating with Faith Evans on their cover of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
But Evans said she was told differently at the time they made it.
“At the time, the general manager of Bad Boy called me like six months after my album came out like, ‘Mary wants her voice off your album,'” Evans said. “So I just re-recorded the record, which I hated, without her on it.”
But in a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Blige said she never told anybody such a thing.
“That’s not true. That’s something I’m just hearing about,” she said. “I love that song. I love the duet that we did, and every time I hear it I’m like, ‘Well, what happened to my part?'”
One of her favorite singers is one of your favorites too.
“Jill Scott. All the music on her album was incredible,” Blige said about the singer’s debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? to Rolling Stone back in 2003. “She came from a sound that does not exist anymore. She picked out a time and a place in all the years and grabbed it and put it right here. Everyone was trying to do that, and she nailed it.”
The song she would love to have played at her funeral is a classic.
As she told The Guardian in 2010, it would be “Zoom” by The Commodores.