Her Life: Mary J. Blige @ Soul Summer
In years past, when Mary J. Blige’s primary claim to fame was being known as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul signed to Uptown Records, she wasn’t above cursing out writers, sniffing coke in nightclub bathrooms, or stumbling drunk through music industry parties. Yet, in the eighteen years since the release of her triple-platinum debut What’s the 411 in 1992, the former wild child who came of age in Yonkers during the 1980s golden years of crack and rap, has transformed.
Though she grew up to win nine Grammy Awards, to write (and co-write) countless hit songs, and to make duets with Jay-Z, Bono, George Michael Elton John and Trey Songz, she still struggles with abuse issues from her childhood and the self-inflicted sorrow she put herself through as an adult. From drink to drugs to abusive men, she’s been down that rock ‘n’ soul road. However, as can be heard on Stronger With Each Tear, her ninth studio album, Mary J. Blige is still striving for strength in her music as well as her life.
Reflecting back, 2009 was a very good year for Mary. Beginning with her televised performance covering Bill Wither’s classic “Lean on Me” at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration in February, she also co-starred in director Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself alongside Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson, launched her charity Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN), and contributed “I Can See in Color” to the controversial film Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.
“You can feel Mary creatively turning herself inside out on that song,” says Precious executive producer Lisa Cortes. “Her contribution to the film is a heartfelt song that elevates the emotion of the scene. It was obvious to me that Mary took her own pain and put it into her art.”
Recently Soul Summer lunched with Mary J. Blige over steak and potatoes as she talked about past accomplishments, future projects, and the soul of Nina Simone.
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