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Mary J. Blige Up Close & Personal at the Times Center, NYC

29 Nov

I know you all must saying, what it this music week, for my latest posts have been written about Adele, Katy Perry and Sting!  I not only talk about designs, textiles and decorating you know!  I love to bring you on the my adventures, let’s say I’m sharing!  Having fun!  Well it fits perfectly with the upcoming Grammy awards nominations, wouldn’t you say?

This leads me to talk about Ms. Mary J. Blige!!!!!!!!!!!

The last two weeks have been all about her!  Last week for the first time, Mary J. Blige allowed her depthifying concert to be televised on YouTube and to be streamlined by on-line viewers!  Quite remarkable, I felt like I was right there at the concert.  My surround sound on and thanks to my Wii Fi  connection was able to review on my big screen TV!   The concert featured her most top-selling album “My Life” which made a remarkable connection to her fans and set the threads to transcend to the Mary J. Blige we see today!  If you have n’t gotten a chance to see the concert, it is still available:

It was absolutely awesome concert and the best part is, when it concluded – all I had to do was go upstairs to sleep, no parking lot and no traffic!   The only thing I missed, was the fan hype, the loud talking and the singing!  😦

In 2009, through Essence Magazine I also had the opportunity to propose a question to Mary; for then she was  staring in Tyler Perry’s movie, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”.   Spreading her wings to evolve and try new things, she was quite superb in the movie.

There are times when a fan would like to connect with celebrities and get a chance to be up close & personal.  Leading to another opportunity in NYC, Mary J. Blige agreed to be part of the Times Center series for a  close interview about her life, triumphs and day-to-day happenings.

The interview was held last night at the The Times Center; on NYC’s busy W 41st Street.  The city was still buzzing, for the  Macy’ s Thanksgiving Parade excitement was lingering in the air, where Mary J. Blige also took part in.  Here are some highlights of the interview:

The 378 seat auditorium was very intimate, in cased in glass with a beautiful garden in the back drop.  On the stage,  two ordinary chairs, a table and two bottles of water (which one was later switched to Fiji Water, Mary’s preference).

Jon Pareles was introduced by, he would be conducting the interview.  Jon is an American journalist who is the chief popular music critic in the arts section of the New York Times.  He played jazz flute and piano, and graduated from Yale University with a degree in music. In the 1970s he was an associate editor of Crawdaddy! and in the 1980s an associate editor at Rolling Stone and the music editor at The Village Voice.  He started contributing to the Times in 1982. Today he now reviews popular music in the arts section of the New York Times.

Then Mary J. Blige is introduced with this introduction, it was so quiet, the announcement resonated:

“Consistent #1 albums and singles, six (6) Grammy awards, seven (7) multi-platinum records and 15-years of love from the public, critics and fellow artists. Since her 1992 debut – the modern classic What’s the 411 all the way to 2005’s stunning The Breakthrough Mary J. Blige has helped to redefine R&B, and more importantly, been an artist that uses her gift to lift spirits, touch lives and bring her heart, soul and truth to those who are willing to listen.  The Times Center is proud to bring you, Mary J. Blige.”

Out walks, Mary J. Blige petite frame, a beautiful woman, dressed casual and quite comfortable in a leather jacket, white T-shirt and jeans; paired with these gorgeous suede 4 inch heel thigh boots embossed with gold beads.

The 1 and 1/2 interview first touched upon deep conversation about her childhood, drug abuse, domestic violence and pain which she endured, Mary was very candid and expressed that:

“You don’t want to go near the fire, but you know you have to go through it  – to get to the other side – there’s no way around it.  Once I did that, it was my life breakthrough to forgive and heal.  This is why the My Life  CD was so very accepting, relatable and the first time in a long time hard discussions were being talked about openly through my songs”  

The interview then turned lighter, marriage how it changed her life , her music, her writing  and the many musical collaborations.  Mary also is involved in the producing of her music, collectively collaborating to get the right arrangements. It very important to convey the right message.   She has worked with so many artists and talked about the various covers she has performed: Bono,  Sting, Elton John, Led Zepplin, Aretha Franklin – just to name a few!

This is the part of the interview, I got just a little annoyed.  Mary Blige had mentioned Boccelli, where she performed a duet; a Holiday song called “What Child Is This”.  Jon, the interviewer said who?  Mary said “Andrea Boccelli, world known opera singer!”

In my mind, I said you don’t know who Andrea Boccelli is (he just did a major concert in NYC’s Central Park a few months ago),I wonder what Mary was thinking, she was very nice about it!   An interviewer is not going to know every song she has ever written or sang, but do  just a little more homework about the major accomplishments.

Performing “What Child Is This” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” songs with Boccelli was just that!  BIG!!!!  Very BIG!! So welcomed, the  “Bridge Over Troubled Water” song provided enormous support for the Haiti Earthquake relief.  Talking a bit more, then Jon Pareles redeemed himself, saying your duet with Tony Bennett was awesome!  (thank goodness!)

Next the discussion, on what’s going lately with Mary:

  • She so enjoyed participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade!  Her kids loved it!
  • She will be starring in the movie “Rock of Ages”, which was different for her; however really enjoyed doing Heavy Rock tunes.  The movie is scheduled to be released in June 2012.
  • In August, Mary recently launched her latest perfume, My Life Blossom presented by Carol’s Daughter®; titled to show how happiness has profoundly transformed in her life (
  • Mary has studied Nina Simone, where she will be portraying her in a movie.  She’s happy about the role, but wants to take her time, has an acting coach to make sure she does it right!
  • Heavily involved in her organization with Steven Stoute, FFAWN  – Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc., increasing the scholarship program recipients.
  • Proud she achieved getting her GED; an accomplishment you can see in her eyes sheer happiness.
  • Lastly, thinking about a clothing and shoe line – which has been on the back burner, interested in quality under her brand!

The interview ended with Jon asking about the details of her CD recently released, My Life II: The Journey Continues, Act 1 .  Mary indicated there were originally 50 songs for the CD and it was a hard choice to select the 17 songs that made it.  So the title was changed to add “Act 1” to allow for a follow-up CD for the remaining songs!

Her favorite? “A Woman” with Beyonce!  Mary says, she could not believe that Beyonce allowed her to have it on her CD, for it did not make on Beyonce’s latest CD.

The audience did partake in asking Mary questions, very good questions and many loving comments on how her music inspired and transformed manu lives through music!   Mary left the stage, leaving inspiration to all and thanked everyone for this special opportunity. “This was wonderful!”

To review the entire edited interview, click here MJB

Letia 🙂

Photos by Letia Mitchell LifeStyle & Design and Interscope Records.  To learn more about the TimeCenter series, go to

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