Mary J. Blige’s “Strength of a Woman” Empowers Listeners

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Mary J. Blige’s 14th studio album, “Strength of a Woman,” was released on Friday, April 28. Blige, who after nearly 15 years of marriage filed for a divorce from her husband and business manager Kendu Isaacs, opens up about the disappointment and painful reality of seeing her marriage come to an end. This album is no pity party. “Strength of a Woman” is a celebration of finding the strength to move on and love herself.

The 14 song album, which was one year in the making, features musical collaborations with Kanye West, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, DJ Khaled, and Quavo. Its first single, “Thick of It,” topped adult R & B charts for 16 weeks. The album’s second single, “U + Me,” was released on February 17 and was played in heavy rotation on radio stations nationwide.

“Love Yourself” featuring Kanye West is the third single released off the album. Blige is currently promoting the album through television and radio interviews and public appearances.

Blige, who has been called the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul,” has been in the music industry for over 25 years. Her heartfelt, honest, danceable music has earned her nine Grammy Awards.

Blige’s music is an innovative fusion of rhythm & blues and hip hop. Keith Fiddmont, Santa Monica College’s Director of Jazz Music, said, “Some of the music on this album was recorded live at Capitol Records. There is a mixture of acoustic sounds and a more contemporary sound of electric.”

Blige’s soulful vocals captivated fans from day one, while her urban style gave her an edge in fashion. To this day, Blige has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. Her transparency helped her to connect with audiences on a more personal level. Blige started recording the album one year ago. “I started writing it from a perspective of a woman fighting for her marriage,” Blige said in an interview with the Breakfast Club at Power 105.1 FM in New York.

Paradise Ashby, an 18-year-old student at SMC, is a longtime fan of Blige. “There is a realness about her trials, and it seems to me like she still carries herself with class and does not get out of character about it,” said Ashby.

Blige’s music and lyrics have drastically changed from when she first started in the business. Songs that were expressions of her sadness, pain, and heartbreak evolved over time as she matured as a woman. In 2001, Blige declared in her album “No More Drama” that she was done with the sob stories that fueled her music. Since then, she has released material about growing pains, finding love, and now – finding strength.

After listening to the album, Santa Monica College student and psychology major Natalie Kuedituka says Blige’s album influenced her in a positive way. “My strength as a woman is being educated, ambitious, knowing my worth, and not taking crap from people,” said Kuedituka.

What makes the album “Strength of a Woman” different is Blige’s empowering lyrics. They promote resilience – even though this may be one of the toughest times of her personal life as she goes through an acrimonious divorce.

Blige shared her feelings about the title track of the album on her Facebook fan page saying, “This song is the reason why I’m here, because I realized the strength that I had as a woman. For anyone in this world that’s going through terrible, horrible things in your life and you feel like there’s no way out — the only way out is you. The only way you’re gonna get through it is to take responsibility for you.”