Recently, Mary J Blige
took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about her new album ďThe Breakthrough.Ē
The interview has been edited for BellaOnline Women in Music, but a more extensive interview can be seen in other outlets at a later date. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the conversation I had with Mary. It was a pleasure talking with her. She was down to earth and the ease of the interview made me feel like I was talking to one of my friends instead of a Grammy Award winning singer.
Shelia Goss: Congratulations on "The Breakthrough" going Platinum and debuting #1 on the Billboard charts during its first week out. Many women feel like youíre the ambassador and/or voice for women everywhere! How do you feel about wearing that title?
Mary J Blige: Itís very humbling. Iím 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 Iím helping a lot of women and not just my mother. It makes me feel really good.
Shelia: Youíve 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 youíve 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 donít 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 youíll stand up for what you believe in. All that other stuff they can do without.
Shelia: What do you want listeners to feel after they listen to The Breakthrough?
Mary: What I want people to take from The Breakthrough
if I can do what Iím 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 didnít 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?
Shelia: Did you feel any pressure to succeed prior to the release of "The Breakthrough"?
Mary: When the going gets tough, I get tougher. Thereís no fear. I just shake it all off. I say, ďYou know what. Iím going to do this based on my confidence and where Iím at right now.Ē 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 whatís 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 donít.
Shelia: Do you think you will ever do a gospel album?
Mary: I know Iím going to do a gospel album. I donít know when though but I know itís probably sooner than later.
Shelia: I read somewhere that you were thinking about playing Nina Simone in an upcoming MTV movie. Have you decided whether or not youíll play the role?
Mary: I know that they want me to do it. I want to do it. Iím going to do everything in my power to nail the part.
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 usófor women all over the world. I want to really make women happy everywhere and make them feel confident.
Shelia: Iím sure your fans would love to know if you will be going on tour.
Mary: I plan on going around April or May. Weíre 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 Iím in right now; for growing with me; for hanging in there with me. Iím really glad that you guys are happy with this project. Thank you.
Shelia M Goss is a freelance writer and the Essence Bestselling author of My Invisible Husband, Roses are thorns, Violets are true, and My Three Beaus. To find out more, visit her website at www.sheliagoss.com.