Mary J. Blige Is "Just Plain Old Mary"

On "Deep Inside," from her latest album, "Mary," Mary J. Blige sings that after all of her success, she's still "just plain old Mary."

Since she first came on the scene in 1992 with "What's the 411," she's cranked out hits with songs such as "Real Love," "You Remind Me," and "Reminisce," right up to her current Lauryn Hill-produced single, "All That I Can Say."

Blige's increased star power has allowed her to nab such names as Eric Clapton and Sir Elton John for her latest album. As the singer told MTV, she's developed on more of a personal level over the years as well.

"Me as a person and a human being and who I've been, I'm still that person." Blige told MTV. "But I say as far as my outlook on life and how narrow-minded I used to think, like, things are just open for me. Even though I can still see through the eyes of who I used to be when I get ready. But it's all me when

you look at it. But I just learned to just level it out, calm it down, and make it into one ball and control it."[RealAudio]

"Mary" also expands the singer's musical horizons with contributions from Nas, DMX, K-Ci, and Jadakiss of the Lox. Blige is among the all-star list of presenters for the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, which will take place on September 9 in New York City. The ceremony will be telecast live at 8:00 p.m. (ET, tape-delayed for PT) (see "Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin Added To VMA Presenters").

-- John Gill