The nine-time Grammy-winning Mary J. Blige did it, she became a part of America’s culture by pouring her truth and her pain into song after song.
It was the 1992 album “What’s the 411? that started the revolution and put the singer on her path to legendary status. Although her most passionate fans embrace all of her music it’s the second “My Life” that defined her.
Let’s rewind the clock because it was a long, hard road from the projects of Yonkers to the heights of hip-hop music. At the time of the album release, Blige was 23 years old, and she used her songs to examine the roughest parts of her life. Blige had no problem sharing her trauma, showing her emotional bruises, and laying bare the ruins of destructive relationships. This is why we love her so much because she speaks to her generation and by being brutally honest, she continues to speak to new generations. There is power in her voice, lyrics, and how she blends gospel, soul, and hip-hop with songs like “I’m Goin’ Down”.
Living in the projects she describes as “painful” and confesses that she carried their pain. What “My Life” really did was provide Blige the opportunity to address the culture as she saw it not sugar coating childhood trauma, drugs, and alcohol abuse, and the impact it has on mental health.
It was a gigantic step for Blige to open her life to be documented, and that came about while on tour for the albums 25th anniversary, and with director Vanessa Roth, together, captured a “love letter” to her younger self.
We all know Blige’s story is filled with ups and a lot of downs and she lays bare the trauma of being abandoned by her father and experiencing sexual abuse, and it was essential to the creative process that they help the audience understand why she sings about the hard stuff but that’s why her songs resonate so deeply with them, and she admits that the album “… saved my life.”
Although she has 13 albums to her credit, she is still surprised by how “My Life” influenced so many, as well.
“My life is real, real, real” Blige says at the top of her documentary. She speaks to her fans and it’s a place “where I survived,” she confesses. Her songs are interwoven with powerful images of life in the urban landscape, reminding us that Mary J. Blige always keeps it real. Thank you Mary J. Blige because your music continues to get me through hard times. You have no idea but maybe one day, I can share exactly where I was one I knew that someone felt my pain, too. “My life, my life, my life in the sunshine” is a mantra and a call to action to move toward the place where you feel acceptance, where you feel the warmth.
Mary J. Blige’s “Mary J. Blige’s My Life” — now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Instagram — @therealmaryjblige