Singer, songwriter, and actress Mary Jane Blige (1971–), known as the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul,” had a difficult childhood in the Bronx, New York, where she grew up living with a drug-using mother. She quit school early and went to work, becoming a singer in 1989 when a tape that she made was passed from her mother to a friend and then to R&B record executives Jeff Redd and Andre Harrell of Uptown Records. As a result, Blige began singing backup for artists at Uptown Records. In 1991, with the help of Sean “Puffy” Combs, Blige cut her first solo album, What’s the 411, which went multiplatinum; it was followed in 1995 with My Life. Blige moved to MCA Records after 1997 and continued to write many of her songs, which are based on her life experiences. Blige produced albums including Mary (1997), No More Drama (2001), Reflections (2006), and Growing Pains (2008). She has also made appearances on television specials (such as a Christmas performance with blind opera singer Andrea Bocelli), television series, and in movies. In respect for the difficult journey that resulted in her sobriety, she started the first phase of her foundation to help other women by opening the Mary J. Blige Center for Women in 2003. Blige’s awards include six Grammys and seven multiplatinum records. She continues to write and produce her award-winning music, which is a combination of soul and hip hop.