In the 1990s, several female artists debuted with power house voices that changed the face of the urban R&B and hip-hop music scene forever. In this decade we saw Mariah Carey, Mary J.Blige, the late Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, Lauren Hill, and Erykah Badu release successful hit albums that solidified them as R&B superstar divas.
Mariah Carey – Undoubtedly, Mariah Carey is the most successful R&B singer that debuted in the 1990’s. With her self-titled album released in 1990, she reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with her four hits “Vision of Love”, “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” Since then M.C has become one of the biggest global superstars selling over 200 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.
Mary J. Blige – The Grammy award winner exploded on the R&B scene in 1992 with her debut album “What’s the 411?” produced by Puff Daddy. Blige’s debut album reached #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and reached #6 on the Billboard 200 spawning six singles, in which “Real Love” and “You Remind Me” were the biggest hits from the album. Since her debut in the R&B hip-hop scene, Blige’s iconic persona and soulful voice has made her a global superstar earning her nine Grammy awards and selling over 50 million albums worldwide.
Aaliyah – The late Aaliyah was enjoying much success with her music and acting career before dying in a tragic plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001. In 1994, she debuted her hit album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which was produced by her mentor R. Kelly. The album peaked at #18 on the Billboard 200 and sold over three million copies in the States. After rumors surfaced of her underage marriage to R. Kelly, Aaliyah left Jive Records in 1996 and collaborated with super producers Missy Elliot and Timbaland to create her 1997 sophomore album “One in a Million.” Since then Aaliyah became a global star and even after her death in 2001, she still has a loyal international fan base that keeps her legacy alive.
Toni Braxton – The sultry R&B sensation caught the eye of the R&B world when her debut self-titled album in 1993 reached #1 on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts with the single “Breathe Again.”
But it was Braxton’s 1997 breakthrough sophomore album “Secrets” that earned her first #1 singles “You’re Makin’ Me High” and “Un-Break My Heart.” Braxton became an international superstar in the 1990’s selling over 40 million albums worldwide and winning two American Music Awards and two Grammy’s all in the categories for Best Female R&B vocalist.
Lauryn Hill – After the Fugees disbanded in 1997, Lauryn Hill launched her solo career with her 1998 release of the successful album,”The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks. In that year, Hill won five Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
Erykah Badu – The unique and exquisite Erykah Badu debuted in 1997 with her highly acclaimed album “Baduizm,” The single “On & On” reached #12 on the singles charts and Badu became known for her introspective lyrics and jazzy, bass-heavy sound cultivating her as a pioneer artist of the neo soul genre in the 1990’s. “Baduizm“ eventually went triple platinum and reached #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart earning her a 1997 Grammy award for Best R&B Album.