For nearly three decades Mary J. Blige has been entertaining us in music, movies, and even on the small screen. When the first annual ESSENCE Festival (referred to as ESSENCE Fest back then) kicked off, Mary J. Blige had just released her sophomore album, My Life, which skyrocketed her to Queen of R&B fame. And in the almost 25 years that Festival has been held, the multi-platinum award winning singer has participated in several—dating all the way back to that very first one when she took the stage in an evening show. In those years we’ve seen some of Mary’s greatest moments.

We’ve been there for the breakdowns and the breakthroughs, we’ve seen her life in the sunshine, and we’ve seen it when it was going down. We were there during her struggles with addiction and bad relationships; we watched her find love and create a family affair, and we watched as that family dissolved (we won’t even go there). We’ve seen her rise and fall and rise again. She has evolved and changed and grown right before our eyes. Through those years one thing that remained constant is her undeniable charm and inner beauty that radiates.

In her current role as Cha Cha, a time traveling assassin on the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, she reminds us why we love to see her perform. With a tour with Nas on the books for the summer, a new single out called “Thriving,” and murmurings of an album akin to a My Life sequel, fans are bursting with elation, as there’s never a thing as too much Mary. So, as we draw closer to this year’s monumental 25th anniversary of ESSENCE Festival, where she’ll be headlining once again, we look back at some of Ms. Blige’s show stopping beauty looks that made us sing about why we never want to be without her.

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