Thursday night at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival was all about Mary. The hottest event of the night was the world premiere of Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions, a documentary that follows Mary J. Blige to London as she records her 13th album, London Sessions, which was released in late November. Blige took the stage to perform songs off the album as well as some of her classics following the film, then hosted an after-party. It was a busy night for the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul. Here are five things when learned from Blige.
5. Blige cries a lot. This isn’t top-secret information here, but Blige is legendary because of her ability to convey so many emotions through her music, so it’s reasonable to believe she is emotional and a crier. At one point in the film, she says to a producer “this is the first time I’ve cried … in London … this week … in front of someone,” which inspired laughter from the crowd. Blige may have even cried during a soulful rendition of “No More Drama” after the screening. She doesn’t just leave it on the stage, or in the studio, she is an emotional woman whose music has served as “Therapy” for many of her fans.
4. Blige isn’t afraid to take risks as an artist. Blige was out of her element while recording this album in London, as it was the first time she recorded an album out of the United States, but she enjoyed it. “It was amazing, the whole process of making the album and to be in another country. London is one of the most amazing countries for music and culture … I was blessed to live there for a month.”
3. The Sams are fans of Blige. In the documentary, Grammy Award-winning singer Sam Smith told a story about a record executive asking for three minutes of his time. He then played him a version of “Stay With Me” with Blige singing the second verse. He said he was sitting there thinking “Mary J. Blige is singing my song” as he is a fan. This led to Smith contributing his writing skills to several songs on London Sessions. Director Sam Wrench is also a fan and commended Mary on “her openness to the situation,” he continued, “to let in a film crew that she didn’t know is just amazing and goes to show how creative and sure of herself she is…where she can be confident enough to let those things happen.”
2. Kendu is always by her side. Whether it is in the studio, where the record executive lends his talents, walking the red carpet, or at an after party, Blige’s husband, Kendu Isaacs, is always nearby, and that was certainly the case last night.
1. She’s still Blige! We asked her what she would tell her fans who have been riding with her since her debut album, What’s the 411? in 1992. “What I would tell my fans that have been with me since day one about this album and about this documentary is that your girl is still here. I know people want to find out ‘is she still here, is she different?’ No, I’m Mary J. Blige, just evolved and I continue to evolve. When you see the documentary, you see Mary. J. Blige. It’s me! It’s not me like this, [referring to her red carpet look[ I’m still your girl Mary. I’ve evolved.”
Mary certainly has evolved, and we look forward to watching her continued growth and evolution as an artist.