Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



Mary J. Blige: Devine Inspiration

Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige, an artist who doesn't need too much introduction…in fact, probably none at all if you're no stranger to our pages. Widely regarded as the Queen of R&B, with a track record within this genre which speaks for itself and has become legendary - her own story has been told many times before in many different guises, not only by the singer/songwriter/producer/rapper herself via her own musical storytelling, but via many mainstream media avenues and publications. Whether T.V, Radio, newspapers or magazines who deal in tattle tale…or by serious music reporting institutions and news delivery outlets, this artists's story of her fight to get where she is today is the stuff of true inspiration.

This artist's achievements I have truncated and listed, only for fear of this intro over running/taking over from the real reason for my chat with this icon. Her impressive resumé includes multiple completed feats at every turn:  Multi-award winner, including nine Grammys…Multi-platinum selling, which includes over 50 million albums sold and the fact that eight out of her ten studio albums have easily reached this multi-million selling milestone….Multi-talented, with various acting roles in her repertoire, including recently being signed up to play Nina Simone in a biopic on the jazz great. AND before I run out of 'multi'-isms…I'll end my summery with 'multi-faceted', which includes her work with charities and the disadvantaged - her philanthropy culminating in an invite to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert taking place on December 11th in Oslo, Norway. Where she comments, when asked about her invite, as if it were just a casual invite to a casual event or similar.  "That came about through management and publicists and the team…I guess they wanted me you know, so it came through them".

So what in the world has Mary J. Blige still to achieve you ask, there surely can't be much left to conquer for this 40 something with the world at her feet - well the answer to that question is not just simple, but also festive…a Christmas album! But not just any Christmas album, ohh no, once I elaborate I'm sure you'll agree this has all the hallmarks of being a Christmas cracker! So much so, I'd bet Rudolph's red bits on it!

Blige explains she was headhunted for this project a while ago by super producer/Chairman of The Verve Music Group, David Foster.  "David Foster approached me but I had never had the time to do it before, but it is something I've always wanted to do…then suddenly I had the down time, so I was like yeah come on, let's do it!"

Foster is responsible some of the most memorable music to grace the charts and the silver screen over the last 40 years, he has his own star in the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, he has also worked with…this is just a few of the artists in the genre B&S covers;  Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton, Destiny's Child, Earth Wind and Fire, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Beyoncé Knowles, Prince and Donna Summer. He is responsible for likes of Seal trying his hand at soul classics and Stewart not only nailing American classic all-time fave compilations, but a half decent Xmas effort too - not only his, but for Andrea Bocelli as well, so he knows his way around a festive long player Blige reveals. "I've done songs with David Foster before, on Rod Stewart's Christmas album, on Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album - the reason why David is so great is because he doesn't approach every artist based on the last artist he worked with …and he doesn't say things like  'you need to do an album like Andrea Bocelli's!'  He did a Christmas album with Andrea Bocelli based on Andrea Bocelli's personality and Andrea Bocelli's history…and he did the same for Rod Stewart AND he did the same thing for Mary J. Blige."

As for featured artists on aptly titled 'A Mary Christmas', there is a liberal sprinkling of very high calibre and extremely capable individuals, including the supreme talents of fellow icon Barbara Streisand. Blige elaborates on Streisand's involvement on the old favourite 'When You Wish Upon A Star.' "David Foster had the relationship with her (Barbara Streisand) already, because he's worked with her before.  He asked if I would like to put her on the song, did I wanna put her on the album? I was like, if we can get her, ABSOLUTELY on the Christmas album, yeah."

Blige remarks on the international flavour of some of the tracks at the end of the album, her switch to singing in French for the very sweet rendition of "Petit Papa Noël. Which had yours truly fooled, as her rendition in a foreign tongue seemed faultless and filled with passion. "No I don't speak French, but I sing songs in French…yeah I can sing in French." (laughs)

Another featured inclusion was that of latino chart star Mark Anthony, whom though prolific sales wise and fame in the latin quarters, some readers may remember as being once married to J-Lo.  "Mark Anthony, for my Latino Christmas song ("Noche De Paz" AKA "Silent Night" ), he IS Latin Americana - he is such a powerful voice….and my fans, I have Latino fans, I have French fans, I have English fans…so I wanted to make ALL my fans a part of this Christmas album, because Christmas is SO special to me."

Maybe the surprise package within this Xmas offering is the inclusion of our very own potential heir to the throne, Miss Jessie J - Blige acknowledges Jay's distinct vocal thus…"Then you have your girl Jessie J over there, who has an i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e voice. I admire her… it was easy for me to ask to get her - I've met her before, she's a nice lady."

To read more from this interview with US Queen of R&B Mary J. Blige, click on the link below to buy your own B&S hardcopy or visit your local reputable magazine seller (inc WHSMITH and JOHN MENZES) to buy your copy today.

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