Hip-hop Media training

Mary J. Blige: Breaking New Ground

Hip-Hop Media Training

Mary J. Blige screamed thefirst time she heard her recorded version of "What Child This Is," her duetwith renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli. The song appears on Bocelli's "MyChristmas: Deluxe Edition CD & DVD." They performed the duet in November onOprah's Holiday Music Extravaganza.


"It gave me the chills," Bligesaid via phone. "Forget about me, I'm talking about the chemistry alone. Itmade me open my mouth and give all thanks to God. It was a humbling moment."

It was Blige's first timerecording an opera song. When she received the demo, she listened to Bocelli'srendition as well as the suggested R&B arrangement, and she took a moment toconsider how to best approach the recording.

Though Blige acknowledges that sheis not an opera singer and did not want to attempt to emulate Bocelli's style,she also was cautious not to deliver an expected R&B vocal performance.

"The thing is I can't do whatthey do," Blige explained, comparing herself to opera singers. "And there's nogoing to opera classes. You use whatever you have. Whatever gift God gave you,you have to utilize it. I loved every minute of it."

Blige's confidence as aperformer is equally evident on her ninth studio album, "Stronger withEachTear." The lead single "I Am" is an empowering song of self-worth. "I FeelGood" boasts a high on a night out on the town. "Each Tear" reminds listeners thatlife's struggles come with important lessons.

"On 'Each Tear' I'm trying toget people to understand you don't have to feel bad when you are in a [tryingsituation]," Blige said. "As long as you learn from your mistakes, you'll getthrough it. Your tears are what make you strong."

"Each Tear" actually could havefit in the film "Precious," a story of a teenage girl plagued by abuse andilliteracy. But Blige, who is the executive producer for the soundtrack, hadanother one of her songs, "I Can See In Color," in mind.

After seeing the three timesGolden Globe nominated movie, Blige was so moved that she insisted that she beinvolved. "The film was so important," Blige said. "I had to pay closeattention to what songs were going to be used and where."

Blige loved the movie, butadmits it was difficult to watch. "The hardest thing about watching it was thatI have seen it live before and lived some of it myself," she said. "That reallytortured me to have some of the hiccups that I have in life."

Blige's personal trialsinspired her to open the Mary J. Blige Center for Women in her hometown, Yonkers, New York.The newly opened shelter is an extension of her organization FFAWN (Foundationfor Advancement of Women Now, Inc.).

The facility provides a forumfor women to talk about their issues and receive educational support, includingscholarships. Blige said opening the center was a part of her destiny.

It is also a part of themission she started in 1992 with her debut release, "What's The 411?" All ofher albums and ancillary projects since have supported her message ofperseverance.

It is a message that she takesseriously.

"I feel great about my personaltriumphs," Blige said. "I am still overcoming everything. I process throughthat."

Blige realizes that it is noteasy to be optimistic when in the midst of hard times.

But it is necessary.

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