'WHAT'S THE 411?" - MARY J. BLIGE (1992)
Mary Jane Blige was born in 1971 and raised in the Bronx, New York. She was the second of four children with her mother, Cora who was a nurse and her jazz musician father, Thomas who taught Mary how to sing.
After dropping out of high school at seventeen, Mary went to a mall in White Plains and recorded an Anita Baker song at a recording booth. The cassette was passed by a friend of Mary's mother to Jeff Redd, an artist with Uptown Records, a label known for hip-hop and r&b. Redd forwarded the tape to the president of the label, Andre Harrell and he arranged a meeting with Mary. He signed her to his label in 1989 and she became the label's first female artist.
At first, Mary was only used as a background vocalist for the established artists on Uptown which included her singing the hook on Father MC's 1990 hit, "I'll Do 4 U". In 1992, Mary finally began recording her debut album with an A&R executive with the label, Sean "Puffy" Combs.
The album, "What's The 411?" was released later that year and the first single, "You Remind Me" went straight to number one on the r&b charts. The next single, "Real Love" is the song that brought Mary to the attention of the general public where it not only topped the r&b charts but it went to number seven on the pop charts. There were three more hit singles released including Mary's remake of the 1975 Rufus & Chaka Khan classic, "Sweet Thing". The album would go on to sell over three million copies in the US alone. Because of this success, Sean Combs anointed Mary the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul".
She has made numerous film and television appearances over the years including getting a role in the forthcoming film of the hit Broadway musical, "Rock Of Ages" and the lead in a film about the life of singer Nina Simone.
Mary J. Blige has recorded nine studio albums with her tenth due to be released later this year. She has won many awards during her career including nine Grammy Awards and has sold over fifty million records
Mary has been married to Martin Kendu Isaacs, a record executive who is now her manager, since 2003. She also received her GED in 2010.
This is Mary J.'s first big hit:
"Real Love" - Mary J. Blige ( 1992)
"BOY" - U2 (1980)
Fourteen year-old drummer, Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on his school notice board looking for musicians to form a band in Dublin, Ireland in 1976. Six young men answered the ad and Larry accepted them all. The group included Adam Clayton on bass, David Evans and his older brother, Dik on guitar and Paul Hewson on lead vocals/guitar. The boys knew they weren't great musicians but because of the popularity of many punk rock bands, they felt it wasn't necessary for success but two of the guys dropped out after the first few rehearsals anyway. The group settled on the name, "Feedback" and tried doing cover songs. but soon realized that they were better doing their own material.
By 1977, the band had changed it's name to "The Hype" and soon came to the idea of a four man group since they didn't need three guitarist which included singer, Paul Hewson. Dik Evans was amicably forced out of the band. Paul Hewson became professionally known as "Bono" which was shorten from the Latin phrase, "bonavox" which means "good voice" and David Evans took on the name, "The Edge" which Bono would call him, "Dave Edge" because he was on "the edge of things".
The group finally settled on the name "U2" and were shocked to win a St. Patrick's Day talent show in 1978. The prize was cash and studio time to record a demo. The band completed an EP called, "Three" in 1979 but it was only released in Ireland. It did get some radio airplay and later that year, U2 played their first concert outside of their home country in London but they didn't receive much attention.
U2 signed with Island Records in 1980 and later that year they released their first album, "Boy". The first single, "I Will Follow", written by Bono as a tribute to his mother who passed away when he was fourteen, brought U2 their first success in the United States where the song went to number twenty on the rock charts. It created some buzz for the band and U2 went on tour there where their performances were rough but well received.
The band's next album, "October" was released the following year and was less enthusiastically received. The songs were much more heavily spiritual which was due to Bono, The Edge and Mullen joining a Christian group that caused some conflict for them being involved in a rock band. They considered leaving the band but managed to work things out and U2 went to work on their next album, "War" which was released in 1983. The album became their first number one in Britain and went to number twelve in the US and the first single, "New Year's Day" became their first big pop success. The album also included one of their first political songs, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" which was about the 1972 incident where British soldiers killed unarmed Northern Irish protesters. "War" would go on to sell over eleven million copies around the globe.
U2 have released twelve studio albums to date, won twenty-two Grammy Awards out of thirty-four nominations, more than any other rock band and they have sold over one hundred and fifty million albums including twenty-five million alone of their 1987 classic, "The Joshua Tree (Remastered)". U2 were inducted in to The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Have a listen to the first U2 single:
"I Will Follow" - U2 (1980)
Here is the music video of U2 with Mary J. Blige doing a duet of the band's song, "One":
"CAN'T TAKE ME HOME" - PINK (2000)
Alecia Moore was born in Doylestown, PA in 1979. She was inspired as a child by her father, Jim who sang and played guitar, to want to become a rock star. As a teenager, Alecia wrote poems and lyrics to help express her feelings and joined a band in high school called, Middleground. The group disbanded shortly after losing a contest but she later formed her own r&b group called Choice with two other female singers. They made a demo and it made it to L.A. Reid, the head of LaFace Records. He was impressed and signed Choice to the label in 1995.
Choice stayed with the label for a few years but not much developed and the group disbanded in 1998. L.A. Reid was still interested in Alecia and signed her as a solo artist. She changed her stage name to Pink, after the character, "Mr. Pink" from the 1992 Quentin Tarantino film, "Reservoir Dogs (15th Anniversary)".
Pink's debut album, "Can't Take Me Home" was released in 2000. The first single, "There You Go", written by Pink along with Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs and Kandi Burruss (of "The Real Housewives Of Atlanta" fame), peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Her next song, "Most Girls" did even better, reaching number four on the charts. With this success, Pink was asked to open for N'Sync for the American leg of their tour and her album sold over five million copies around the world.
Pink was also asked to participate on a cover of the song, " Lady Marmalade" for the soundtrack for the 2001 film, "Moulin Rouge" along with Mya, Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera. The track, which was produced by Missy Elliot, went to number one on the charts, won the MTV Video Award for "Video Of The Year" and the group received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocal.
Although Pink achieved the success she was seeking, she was not happy. She had no desire to became a pop star like Britney Spears and wanted to be taken seriously as a musician and have more control over her music. She met with Linda Perry of one of Pink's favorite bands, 4 Non Blondes and together they worked on Pink's next album.
That album, "Missundaztood" was almost not put out by the label because L.A. Reid thought it was too much of a radical departure from her last album and he was not sure it would sell. Luckily he came to his senses and it was released in 2001. The record's sound was much more pop/rock than the contemporary r&b/hip-hop of the first album. The first single, "Get The Party Started" went top five around the world. Three more hit singles were released and the album sold thirteen million copies worldwide.
Pink has completed five studio albums as well as her recently released hits collection, "Greatest Hits... So Far!!!" that featured two new songs, "Raise Your Glass (Explicit Version)" and "F**kin' Perfect (Explicit Version)" that both became top ten hits.
Pink met motocross racer, Carey Hart and they married in 2006. After a brief separation in 2008, the couple reconciled and are about to become parents with the baby due later this year.
Here is the song that introduced this artist to the world:
"There You Go" - Pink (2000)
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