Mary J. Blige is the kind of singer whose songs strike a cord with listeners. No matter where you are in life, there’s a song by the R&B singer that you can relate to.
In an interview with MAKERS, Blige shares the story behind her rise to fame and its pitfalls. The singer opens up in this exclusive clip about battling depression and finding her way out through music and with help from fans.
Blige, who grew up in the Bronx, reveals that she realized her talent at an early age, using it to escape the projects. “I definitely used singing as an escape from the environment we were living in,” she says. “I felt like I had wings, like I could fly and get away from any situation, like I was alive.”
Things slightly stalled for the singer after she was discovered, but when P. Diddy entered the picture her career skyrocketed. However, the road to fame was bumpy.
“When my first record took off we were living in the projects,” she says. “People want to buy your records, they want to see you. But, people in the neighborhood wanted to kill you for it. So you plucked this girl from the hood and throw her in all of this stuff and so, she’s going to survive the only way she knows how. I was resorting to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain.”
She adds, “People from the outside looking in would think I was great, but I was in hell.”
Blige’s struggle eventually came to a head and the singer realized that there was only one thing she could do. “I was like, ‘Whoa! You have to sing for your life.'”
Blige’s sophomore album My Life became her plea and her escape.”I didn’t think anybody would pay attention to my call for help, but my fanbase did.”
After the albums release and success, Blige realized that music was what she needed and that through it she could be a source of strength for others.
“I realized that I can’t do this anymore. I can save lives,” she says. “I had to figure out a way to uplift us and be a woman of empowerment and strength.”
“I took all this depression and opression I was dealing with and just put it in my music. I made the choice, I chose life.”