100 Greatest Singers of All Time

Aretha, Elvis, Lennon, Dylan and many more

Mary J. Blige

100. Mary J. Blige

Born January 11th, 1971
Key Tracks "Real Love," "Not Gon' Cry," "No More Drama"
Influenced Beyoncé, Keyshia Cole

"I can do a record with Elton John, I can do 'One' with Bono, I can work with Method Man, Jay-Z, and no one says, 'Why is she doing that?' " says Mary J. Blige. "And that's because I know exactly who I am and what I want." Blige's 1992 pairing with rookie Sean "Puffy" Combs for What's the 411? defined a new era for R&B, matching new-jack attitude with old-school emotion and songcraft. "She's the true heir to Aretha Franklin," duet partner Sting once said. Sixteen years later, Blige's exposed-nerve vocals keep getting more precise and more powerful. "I'm vocally the strongest I've ever been," says Blige. "I did the work, and now I can do whatever I want to do."