American singer-songwriter, Mary J. Blige is one of the numerous celebrities mourning the death of Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell. The longtime record exec passed away on Thursday (May 7) from heart failure at the age of 59.
On Monday (May 11), the R&B queen took to her Instagram to share a video of an old talk show appearance where Harrell says he watched her grow from a young woman to a “real lady.”
She wrote in the caption, “I don’t know where I would be if you didn’t believe in me. RIP @andreharrell … This can’t be real. Thank you for helping me and loving me until the last days of your life. Rest easy my musical father. I will continue to do my very best to make you proud and continue to find joy and inspiration in your life and legacy. Another angel watching over me.”
Harrell, who gave Sean “Diddy” Combs his start as an intern in the 1990s, also gave Blige her big break in 1989 when he signed her as a background vocalist for Uptown acts such as Father MC. In the process, she became the youngest and first woman signed to the imprint.
Over the years, Blige has since become one of the biggest R&B artists in the world. She dropped her debut album What’s The 411? in 1992 and has released another 12 studio albums, culminating with 2017’s Strength Of A Woman. Eight of those albums have been certified multiplatinum by the RIAA.
The 49-year-old New Yorker has also earned nine Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards and 12 Billboard Music Awards. As an actress, she’s received three Golden Globe Award nominations, including one for her supporting role in the film Mudbound and another for its second original song “Mighty River” for Mudbound.
In 2018, she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song, becoming the first person nominated for acting and songwriting in the same year.