HOLLYWOOD — On her 47th birthday, nine-time Grammy-winning singer Mary J. Blige received a star Jan. 11 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“When I was a little girl growing up in the projects, I just loved to sing, and I wanted to sing because it set me free from all of the negativity and all of the confusion that was happening outside of our home,” Blige told the crowd gathered for the ceremony in front of the Eastown apartment complex on Hollywood Boulevard.
“We lived in the projects but we had love in our home,” she said. “But when we stepped outside that door it was hell. And we learned how to survive. My mom is a survivor. She was a single parent mother, very, very small and she raised us on her own. She had three jobs and she never stopped.
“I just want to thank God for my mother right now. And I want to thank God for this moment because it didn’t have to be like this. There’s been times in my career that I didn’t want to step out [of] my house because I was hurt so bad. But God gave me the strength to keep stepping, and to keep my head up regardless of what anybody thought about me, regardless of what was being said about me, regardless of who hated me or who didn’t. My skin is tough.”
Rap mogul Sean Combs and music producers Andre Harrell, Jimmy Jam and Terry Ellis were among those joining Blige at the ceremony.
Blige has recorded eight multi-platinum albums, sold more than 50 million albums and received 31 Grammy nominations in a career that began with her multi-platinum 1992 debut album “What’s the 411?” and included the Top 10 hit with “Real Love.”
Blige was born on Jan. 11, 1971, in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, and was raised in Richmond Hill, Georgia, and Yonkers, New York.
Blige was discovered when an amateur recording of Anita Baker’s “Caught Up In The Rapture” that Blige made in a mall recording booth made its way to Harrell, then the president and CEO of the hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues label Uptown Records, who promptly signed her to a contract.
Blige’s second album, “My Life,” released in 1994, featured the hits “I’m Going Down,” “Mary Jane,” “I Love You” and the title track, which became a signature song for her.
Blige won her first Grammy in 1996 for best rap performance by a duo or group for “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By,” a collaboration with Method Man. She won her first solo Grammy in 2003 for best female rhythm and blues vocal performance for “He Think I Don’t Know” from her album, “Dance For Me.”
Blige’s other hit singles include “Not Gon’ Cry,” “Love Is All We Need,” “Seven Days,” “All That I Can Say,” “Family Affair” and “Just Fine.”
Blige began her acting career in 1998 with an appearance on The WB comedy, “The Jamie Foxx Show.”
Her first film was the 2001 independent film, “Prison Song.” She received best supporting actress Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations for her portrayal of the wife of a 1940s Mississippi tenant farmer (Rob Morgan) in last year’s period drama “Mudbound.”