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EMF 2011: Mary J. Blige Finds Strength at Music Festival

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ESSENCE Music Festival headliner Mary J. Blige takes a few minutes to talk to ESSENCE.com about the power of this weekend, what it feels like performing in front of thousands of fans in the Superdome, and why she is so happy to see all of the sisters in New Orleans.

ESSENCE.com: Let's talk about why you love to perform at the ESSENCE Music Festival.
MARY J. BLIGE: I like to perform at the ESSENCE Music Festival because it's the epitome of my fan base. My fans are here. This is the foundation of every Mary J. Blige fan since my "What's the 411?" album. If they're still around, they will come and see me. And then not only that, everybody and their mother that's a celebrity is here.  (Laughs)  Night after night, my peers go to see each other perform. It's just fun and it's a big, big deal to be respected like that.

ESSENCE.com: People have said that when you perform here, it's like going to church. How does the energy feel in the Superdome when you're on stage? 
BLIGE: The energy feels like people are really happy to be here. It feels uplifting. We are giving energy back and forth and that's just really, really good. We're leaving with something that we can go home and change our lives and grow with. We're not leaving empty handed. They're giving me something that I can change my life with and I'm giving them something they can change their lives with.  And I'm not just talking about words, I'm talking about presence. I thank them for their presence.

ESSENCE.com: ESSENCE Music Festival is about fun, having a good time and Black women coming together and connecting in a spiritual and positive way. How does it feel for you when you're here in New Orleans and you see all these Black women everywhere?
BLIGE: It feels so good. Seeing these women in New Orleans during the festival it feels like we haven't seen each other in a long time, even if we've never seen each other before. I just want to hug them. We go through so much and it's good to see us come through.

Mary takes the stage tomorrow night at the Superdome. We can't wait to see her bring down the house!



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