By Gerrick D. Kennedy
Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with Mary J. Blige on her new album, “Strength of a Woman,” which has arrived at a time when she’s facing one of life‘s challenges: divorce.
Los Angeles Times
For Mary J. Blige, there’s always been purpose in pain.
A hard upbringing marred by violence. Heartbreak. Addiction. Toxic relationships. Self-hatred.
Regardless of the source, Blige has made it her ministry to navigate the depths of despair and confront emotional trauma through her music, and she always keeps it real, no matter how ugly things get.
It’s that search for catharsis that has made her one of the most influential R&B singers of her time.
Blige’s fusion of gospel-inflected singing and hard-knocking beats helped redefine R&B when she debuted 25 years ago. Ultimately, she became branded the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” and she has collected Grammys in R&B, gospel, rap and pop.
She’s been the therapist, the reverend and the wise sister-friend to millions who’ve turned to her soul-baring songs of sorrow, resilience and empowerment for personal healing.
And Blige doesn’t just soundtrack lives, she has brought comfort and voice to a generation of women. Just listen to the shouts of testifying whenever Blige sings “No More Drama,” “My Life,” “Not Gon Cry” or any of the many records she has seemingly ripped herself open to create.
The mission of her music is steadfast: “It’s OK to not be OK, just don’t stay there. Keep pushing.”
Her new album, “Strength of a Woman,” has arrived at a time when she’s facing one of life‘s challenges: divorce.
In true Blige fashion, she’s channeled the drama into her music, and the album, a blistering collection of betrayal, heartbreak, self-love, faith and survival, is already being hailed as a return to form for a singer whose most revered work had been born out of suffering.