Mary J Blige released her debut album, What's The 411?, in 1992 at 21-years-old. Twenty-two years later, and with many, many Grammy awards, albums and superstar collaborations under her belt, the powerhouse singer is still on top and making some of her most exciting music to date.
We caught up with the RnB star ahead of the Brits 2015, and the MasterCard Priceless Surprises campaign in which she appears (more about that below), to get the, erm, 411…
‘The British music scene continues to inspire me. The fact that they embrace soul music the way they do. I’m a soul singer so I just love how they feel about the music there. It has inspired me to continue recording soul music and to keep up with the London music scene because they appreciate it so much there.’
‘I moved to the UK when I recorded my latest album. The London Sessions. It was an amazing experience. I had a lot of fun while creating this album. Discovering the amazing parks and beautiful walks like Primrose Hill or Hyde Park, the amazing fish & chips and how many options there are for great places to eat.’
‘I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best British talent there is. Working with Sam Smith and Disclosure was truly mezmorizing and loads of fun. They are so down to earth and real. Creating with them was so incredible because they are so talented. I could work with both of them over and over. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Elton John, George Michael and Eric Clapton so, if I could keep working with the same ones – and more like them – I will be pretty happy non-stop.’
‘I’m inspired by so many strong women. My mother, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey are the ones that spring to mind.’
‘One of the most highlights of my career was singing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. And just being able to sustain a career in this music business for as long as I have is another strong highlight.’
‘As I have gotten older I’ve learned to love and accept myself and not be so hard on myself because I can’t please the world no matter what I do. I’d go back and tell my 20-year-old self to relax and believe in myself and not be so afraid because people are going to like you.’
‘I would tell aspiring artists out there to believe in yourself or nobody else will. Stay in school if you’re in school and get your education and diploma because you will need it one day no matter what. If you believe in God put God first and don’t be afraid to be accessible to your fans.’
‘I learnt so much about British fashion living in the UK because I kept up with the British magazines like Marie Claire that showed great fashion. I love British designers like Matthew Williamson and Alexander McQueen, plus Melissa Odabash and so much more.’
‘I was so shocked to discover Sir Elton John was a fan of mine. It made my day and I continue to smile when I think about it because he’s my favourite and its me who’s such a huge fan.’
Mary J Blige is working with MasterCard as part of their 2015 BRITs campaign, bringing Priceless music experiences to her biggest fans. Stay tuned to pricelesssurprises.co.uk for your own chance to see her up close at an exclusive, intimate gig later this year.