ESSENCE Music Festival headliner Mary J. Blige is continuing on her pledge to give back to young women in our communities. This weekend the Grammy-winning singer will host the 2nd Annual Mary J. Blige Honors Concert to benefit her FFAWN Foundation (Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now). The star-studded concert will help raise money to provide young women with college scholarships. Guests will include Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott and Anita Baker. sat down with Mary J. to discuss her FFAWN Honors Concert, her upcoming album and reveals one thing we’d be surprised to know about her. ESSENCE.COM: Congrats on your success with FFAWN! Can you tell us about the FFAWN honors concert, taking place in a few days and who’s performing? MARY J. BLIGE: Absolutely, we will be honoring our FFAWN scholarship recipients. Anita Baker, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Corinne Bailey Rae and a number of other performers will be in attendance, the evening is about empowering each other as women. Everyone has selected a song that uplifts us and makes us feel we can do anything in life. That’s what FFAWN is about. It’s about uplifting, empowering and educating. ESSENCE.COM: FFAWN is providing some amazing educational opportunities for women. Can you elaborate? BLIGE: We have a number of women who are currently attending colleges throughout the United States. We’ve helped 25 young women go to college with full, four-year scholarships. ESSENCE.COM: How does it feel to be able to transform lives, not only through your music but also outside of your music? BLIGE: It feels great. Music is a gigantic part of the healing process, yet there’s more that will empower and heal people in addition to the music. I want the young women of FFAWN to become educated and be able to have careers of there choices. I don’t want the women of FFAWN to just have a job; I want them to have a career. ESSENCE.COM: In a few months your new CD will be available. The new CD is “My Life II: The Journey Continues.” Why did you decide to continue where “My Life” left off? BLIGE: Some of my fans have grown up and had children. Life doesn’t stop. “My Life II: The Journey Continues” is an extension of where we are in our lives at the moment. ESSENCE.COM: Finally, tell us something that people would be surprised to know about you? BLIGE: [Laughs] I like to laugh. I really love to laugh, that roll on the floor type of laughter. I love to have that tingle in the stomach type of laughter.

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