Written by | Ray Cornelius
The reigning “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige teamed up with Atlanta’s Big Station, V-103 Wednesday night for a sneak peek of her new CD, Strength of a Woman + her new film, “The Making of Strength of a Woman.” The album drops this Friday, April 28 and the film debuts on Tuesday, May 2 at 11 p.m. EST on VH1.
The invitation only event took place at the SCADshow in Midtown and was hosted by Big Tigger. The evening began with the documentary which delves into the creative process of the new album. If you’re a real Blige fan, then you’ll know that she is going through a very painful divorce right now from her husband, Kendu Isaacs and much of the project is about her picking up the pieces and moving forward. Fans will see her laugh and cry in the studio as well motivate the songwriters, artists and engineers that helped her shape this new sound. It is narrated by Sean “Diddy” Combs and features a number of guest appearances by many of her collaborators and close friends like Missy Elliott, Jazmine Sullivan, DJ Khaled and Teddy Riley. For Blige, working with these award winning musicians and artists was as much of an honor for her as it was for them.
“It really meant so much to me because I really wanted to work with them. Like, I really wanted to work with Jazmine. I really wanted to write with her. I really love Khaled. He’s so positive and is such a role model. Kayne has always been a positive role model. Many of us are in the public and sometimes you wanna knock somebody out or curse somebody out and he does what we think about doing. (LOL) But seriously, I have always wanted to work with him because he’s a genius and he’s so real and expressive. Missy is my friend. She’s been my friend since the beginning of all of this,” said Blige to host Big Tigger.
Strength of a Woman also includes a track produced by ATL’s own Ne-Yo. In the film, Blige asked him about whether a certain female artist worked in his studio and warned him about not letting her know that he was working on this new album. Apparently this “mystery” artist is the alleged “side chick” of her husband and the one who is responsible for their divorce. Blige refers to her as “My Becky with the good hair,” a term used and made popular by Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Believe me when I tell you the audience “went up” over Blige’s comment and caused everyone to wonder who she is.
In addition to discussing the new album, Blige also talked to Big Tigger about some of the lessons she has learned over her 25 year career and the one thing that has changed the most for her professionally and privately.
“My self-esteem,” said Blige to a thunderous applause. “Me being able to sit here and keep my head up and not worry about whether I am stumbling and mumbling and all of that. I just accept it and try not fix it…I am not trying to be perfect but trying to be the best me that I can be. I’ve never felt like this before.”
SIDE NOTE: For fans who are desiring that “old Mary” sound (you know what I’m talking about), I believe you will be satisfied with her new album. It features a number of songs that I believe are reminiscent (no pun intended) to the music featured on her classic My Life album. The title track, “Strength of a Woman,” is a clear stand out to me not only because it was produced by Teddy Riley and Benjamin Wright Jr. but it also features Blige with a live orchestra. That’s a rare sound that you just don’t hear that often on the radio anymore and it reminds me of a golden age of music.
See more photos + a sneak peek of the film below:
Strength of a Woman will be available this Friday, April 28!
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com