Mary J. Blige has helped countless women get through rough times with her music. But believe it or not it wasn’t until the mandatory shelter in place order due to the novel coronavirus that she found the confidence to listen to her old songs.
“Well, during quarantine, I learned a lot more about Mary J. Blige. I never, ever really had the confidence to go back and listen to any of my songs. But for some reason I felt like I needed to do that,” she confessed during The Hollywood Reporter’s songwriters roundtable with John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Leslie Odom Jr and Janelle Monae.
“I just started going back and listening to What’s the 411, to My Life, to Share My World and even the No More Drama album. There’s so much information in there that when I was writing those songs … I was confused and I was drinking every day, I was on drugs every day. And I listen to them now, I am like, “How does that confused, crazy little girl write the ‘My Life’ song? How does she write ‘Work That’?” What I discovered, which has given me the chills, is that we are always trying to learn — we’re always who we are, but we don’t know we’re us when we’re young.”
The Song “My Life” Was A Big Help
Blige said she played the song “My Life” from her 1995 album of the same name when she was feeling down.
“The verse, the very last part of the song. The last words are, “Take your time one day at a time, it’s all on you. What you going to do?” During the pandemic, my whole trial was patience. And so to go back and listen to that was like, I have goose bumps now. It was like God’s saying, “Listen to your own words, Mary, love yourself more. Give yourself more.”
Vice-President Kamala Harris Using “Work That”
During the conversation, which took place a few days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Blige also shared that it wasn’t until Vice-President Kamala Harris used her song “Work That” from her album Growing Pains on the campaign trail that she decided to revisit the album.
“When Kamala came out with it recently, I said, “Let me go back and listen to the Growing Pains album. I didn’t realize how, uh, inspiring the album was. Because I was doing it,” she confessed of the album released in 2007.
“I was in hell. I was in all types of hell and then when it came out, I was in more hell, so I couldn’t really enjoy that success. So finally, I got a chance to listen to the album from top to bottom, and “Work That” and [the lyrics are] like, “There’s so many girls. I hear you’ve been running from the beautiful queen that you could be becoming.” It’s every little girl out there in the hood, every woman right now running from who she truly is, the beauty in her. Me doing the same thing. So [these are] things I needed to hear to help me get my inner work done.”
Another Oscar Nomination?
Now a new Mary J. Blige song could land her an Oscar nomination. Blige penned the emotional track “See What You’ve Done” for the doc Belly of the Beast. She said it was another chapter in her ministry to uplift women who struggle outside the margins.
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