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E-Spire Entertainment News

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Mary J Blige The Breakthrough Interview

Thursday, December 08, 2005

When Mary J Blige's new CD "The Breakthrough" arrived in the mail this past December (2006), I rushed to put it in my CD player. By the time I finished listening to it, I had to give Mary her props because it is definitely one of her best CDs to date. On "The Breakthrough," Mary sings about being in a healthy relationship and self-empowerment.

It's hard to believe she's been in the business for fifteen years. Time surely flies. She has matured from the young lady of the projects of NYC to the queen she is now. With her distinct vocals, there's no denying her place among the best singers of our time.

She can sing about heartache one moment and have you dancing in the club the next. Audiences love her. She's been the unofficial spokesperson for women everywhere.

Listeners can always count on Mary J Blige to keep it real. This Grammy award winner worked with an all-star cast of producers (Bryan-Michael Cox, Rodney Jerkins, the Black Eyed Peas' Will I Am, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Dre & Vidal, Raphael Saadiq, etc.).

The album contains 14 tracks and includes the hot single, "Be Without You" and numerous of other songs that can stand on their own.

Recently, I got a chance to speak with her about her new album "The Breakthrough" and other things going on in her world.

Shelia M. Goss: Congratulations on "The Breakthrough" going Platinum and debuting #1 on the Billboard charts during its first week out. Many women feel like you're the ambassador and/or voice for women everywhere! How do you feel about wearing that title?

Mary J Blige: It's very humbling. I'm thankful to know women paid attention to me when I was doing like the My Life album. It means so much to me. As a child, I saw my mother go through so much and I always wanted to do something to help her. Turns out I'm helping a lot of women and not just my mother. It makes me feel really good.

Shelia: Sometimes it helps to know that you're not the only one going through something.

Mary: Exactly. In turn, they're helping me. Now I'm finding out that I'm not the only one.

Shelia: You've been doing this for at least 15 years now right?

Mary: There about.

Shelia: Other music artists have come and gone. Why do you think you've been able to remain one of the leading ladies in music?

Mary: First, I give all the credit and honor to God because I truly believe the humility I did have caused things to be or not be. Being humble and not even knowing who I was at the time. Making sure everybody on the albums got credit for it and sometimes giving too much away. Also at the end of the day, making sure not to burn bridges or take away from people what they deserve.

Shelia: What kind of advice would you give some of the young female artists such as Keshia Cole?

Mary: Be yourself; whatever that is. Find out who that is. Be careful because they really don't care about all that attitude stuff in the business. What they do care about is the fact that you know who you are and that you'll stand up for what you believe in. All that other stuff they can do without.

When I was coming up in the business, we had gotten lucky because we had no idea that we were pissing people off in the business. We were just defending ourselves and it was the only way we knew how to defend ourselves. What people are doing is looking at somebody else's life in the business and saying let me do that 'cause they keeping it real—that's keeping it stupid.

Because keeping it real is what's in your heart. What's in your heart is you want to be successful and you want to win. Pay attention. Get away from some of those friends that'll have you looking all crazy. People don't understand I'm lucky that I got another chance.

Shelia: What do you want listeners to feel after they listen to The Breakthrough?

Mary: At the end of the day, none of it's easy--making the choice to be happy or making the choice to share with people what I've shared with people over the years has been a challenge. It's been really hard for me too especially once people get a whiff of who you are (here comes the trouble). At the end of the day, it takes a lot of courage to bare all that I've bared.

What I want people to take from The Breakthrough is if I can do what I'm doing right now, we all can do it.

Shelia: Did you have a lot of creative control with this album?

Mary: Yes. I had all the creative control. Every last piece of it-- from who I wanted to work with; who I didn't want to work with; who I wrote with; what I wrote about; what songs; what musically was going on the album; what producers, making sure everybody got paid properly, making sure we booked the right studios. I was all in the mix of everything.

Shelia: Is that the big difference about this album than your previous ones?

Mary: Yes

Shelia: Did you feel any pressure to succeed prior to the release of "The Breakthrough"?

Mary: When the going gets tough, I get tougher. There's no fear. I just shake it all off. I say, "You know what. I'm going to do this based on my confidence and where I'm at right now." I never want to let my fans down ever again; I just want them to be happy. The only way they are going to be happy is knowing what's going on with me.

Shelia: I love the single "Be Without You" and the video with the sexy Terrence Howard. Did you hand pick him for the role in your video?

Mary: Yes, I sure did.

Shelia: I see so many potential hit singles from "The Breakthrough" that if I had to choose it would be hard. Do you happen to know what the next single will be?

Mary: Not at this time I don't.

Shelia: How do you stay motivated in between albums?

Mary: My whole thing is I have to really continuously go to God, and say "Lord help me to do whatever I can do. Just give me the strength." I go through peaks and valleys. In between albums is almost like the valley. You want the positive source and have people always see you in a positive mode. That's it--remaining happy and healthy.

Shelia: You have a powerful voice. Do you think you will ever do a gospel album?

Mary: I know I'm going to do a gospel album. I don't know when though but I know it's probably sooner than later.

Shelia: On The Breakthrough with songs like "I Found My Everything" and of course "Be Without You" your music gives others hope that they too can find true love. Did you ever think you would find a true meaningful relationship?

Mary: No.

Shelia: How long did you and your husband date before you got married?

Mary: Five years.

Shelia: What advice would you give someone searching for a real love?

Mary: It's not easy. If you're asking for real love, real love doesn't come as fluff; it doesn't come as a "yes" man; it doesn't comes as someone that won't challenge you. It comes with someone that will challenge you. It comes with things that you don't even want to agree with, but is good for you. It's all good. It's beautiful. It's fun. It's hard. It's hard for women like me; women period. You have to adjust. Get rid of yourself and not be selfish. It's hard...really hard...at the end of the day, if you can just press through the pain of your own pride and stuff like that, it's not a bad thing.

Shelia: What are some of your hobbies in your down time?

Mary: I don't have any hobbies. My thing is when I'm not singing. I'm really trying to focus on 'Lord how do I live this life?' I'm so serious, because I'm not going to play around out in this world. It's not a game. I want to know how to live this life. How do I not get angry? How do I not be prideful? That's it, if you want to call that a hobby. Studying and trying to find out how to get better as a person. Forget as an artist, but as a person.

Shelia: I read somewhere that you were thinking about playing Nina Simone in an upcoming MTV movie. Have you decided whether or not you'll play the role?

Mary: I know that they want me to do it. I want to do it. I'm going to do everything in my power to nail the part. People like Jamie Foxx brought Ray Charles to life almost like Ray Charles is living. I want to do the same.

Shelia: Are you thinking about doing any other movie roles?

Mary: Scripts are coming in. I just have to have meetings. I have to read the scripts. I'm not going after the typical 'she’s going to play the drug dealer's wife or drug dealer's girlfriend or struggling mother on welfare.'

What I want to do, because this is another art, I want to do something that's going to have my people proud. My people would be proud to see me do something like what the Best Man represented. It showed Black people positive and working. We have things too. We're not just poor black (you know what). My people end up being proud of you because they see you're not trying to stay stagnant; that you actually want to get ahead.

Shelia: What are some of your goals for the upcoming year?

Mary: My goals for 2006 is to work hard; go on tour; possible do a clothing line for us—for women all over the world, but I know it's been really hard for us to find the right jeans or the right thing to fit us properly. I want to really make women happy everywhere and make them feel confident.

Shelia: Have you corresponded with Lil' Kim since she's been locked up?

Mary: I just wrote her the other day; sent her a letter letting her know that I'm going to be up there soon.

Shelia: How is she doing?

Mary: From what I know and from people that have spoken to her, she's doing fine.

Shelia: I'm sure your fans would love to know if you will be going on tour.

Mary: I plan on going around April or May. We're not starting rehearsal until maybe February or March.

Shelia: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

Mary: Thank you so much for appreciating the place that I'm in right now; for growing with me; for hanging in there with me. I'm really glad that you guys are happy with this project. Thank you.

Mary J Blige's The Breakthrough is in stores. Visit Mary J Blige’s website to keep up to date on what’s going in her world: http://www.mjblige.com.

Interview by Shelia M. Goss, entertainment writer and National Bestselling Author of My Invisible Husband and Roses are thorns, Violets are true. To learn more, please visit her website: www.sheliagoss.com.
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