|Nobody tells it like Mary. With a voice that is rough and ready, sweet and pure, Mary J. Blige is capable of conveying heartache and happiness in a single musical phrase. A confessional singer, her emotional honesty reflects the great traditions of blues and soul with a ripped-from-the-pages-of-your-diary immediacy that has won her countless honors and a devoted, ever-growing audience around the world.
Over the course of twelve years, five studio albums and one live collection, Mary J. Blige never fails to deliver potent R&B/hip hop mantras that work on the head, heart and hips. More than a vocalist, she is an accomplished recording artist known for her electrifying live performances, dramatic videos, and innovative studio productions with a who's-who and who's-hot of musical talents from Elton John to Eve.
A quantum leap forward and a welcome return to her roots, love & life, the latest CD from Mary J. Blige (scheduled for release 8/26/03) reunites Mary and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the producer-performer who crowned her the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Now a seasoned songwriter (she co-wrote 17 of the album's 18 tracks) as well as a brickhouse vocalist, Mary co-executive produced the album with P. Diddy. They collaborated on many of the album's tracks including the pulsating first single "love @ 1st sight," a tune inspired by her real life romance that features Method Man, as well as "Let Me Be The One" (featuring 50 Cent.) Blige and Combs won a Grammy in 1996 for "I'll Be There/You're All I Need To Get By." "The person I really am is hip hop. That stuff lives in me. I know how to choose whatever sample is the hottest thing because I've lived in the clubs. I've been to block parties since I was 16. I've grown up in hip-hop culture."
Reflecting a new-found serenity without forgetting her trademark straight-up messages to players, cheaters, and fools, love & life features club-ready slammers ("Ooh!") tender love ballads ("Special Part of Me") and gospel-flavored songs ("Ultimate Relationship.") "Not Today," featuring Eve, once again pairs her with producer Dr. Dre who produced Mary's #1 smash 2002 single "Family Affair." "This album is more upbeat," she notes. "It's a celebration of coming full circle. It's who I am and who Mary J. Blige has been. "
Delivered with conviction and compassion, the songs on love & life are evidence of Mary's spiritual growth and her transcendence over a childhood in the projects of Yonkers, New York and an early success plagued with drama, to her current joy. "Yes she's gotten lost, she's done this and that and she's been trying to figure it out," Mary admits in her typically forthright manner.
The team of Combs and Blige helped usher in a stylish, "ghetto fabulous" hybrid of R & B that united gospel and blues-influenced vocals with high-tech funk and rap on Mary's groundbreaking 1991 debut What's The 411? Their follow-up, 1994's My Life set a standard for soul that remains unmatched.
It also set her up for some hard life lessons explored on 1997's Share My World and 1999's Mary. With the same inner strength and raw honesty she had used to tackle her personal pain, these uncompromising recordings revealed the universality of Mary's heartaches and demonstrated the healing power of music. "I didn't want to tell my business," she continues. "I had no other choice. I wrote it down and people came back to me and said, 'You saved my life!'" Without even knowing that when they listened to me sing, it helped me, too."
Ushering in the 21st century Mary released the triple-platinum No More Drama in 2001. "I always thought my fans were just inner city but people from all over the world and of every color responded to that record. I gave a lot of myself not knowing it was gonna reach so many people." She has also reached them in other arenas, as a budding actress on TV (Strong Medicine on Lifetime) and in the independent film "Prison Song" (co-starring with rapper Q-Tip), as well as in her humanitarian efforts.
In addition to filming anti-drug public service announcements, Mary has worked with various education groups and received Rock The Vote's highest honor, the Patrick Lippert Award. She is a tireless fundraiser for people with AIDS and continues as the spokeswoman for MAC's Viva Glam IV with all proceeds from the lipstick earmarked to AIDS education and research.
Whether pouring her heart out in a recording booth or on a concert stage or privately learning how to love herself and help others, Mary J. Blige has discovered something powerful. The music that she makes, the songs that have brought so much joy and solace to so many, have also been her own salvation.
"Going through all the stuff I went through wasn't in vain because I found out that my job is to give," she concludes. "No More Drama wasn't just an album, it was a transition in my life. I was tired of suffering, of the hustle and hassle of everyday life. I figured out that all along, the problem had been pride and ignorance. Right now I'm growing, I'm learning, and I'm listening. I realized that I need to hear the truth and that the truth is setting me free. And what you hear on love & life is the truth and my willingness to embrace it."