The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul has come a long way since her debut album What's the 411? launched her music career back in 1992. Her latest album The Breakthrough won her critical praise and has sold nearly seven million copies worldwide. Gayle continues her conversation with R&B superstar Mary J. Blige, who shares more about her music, her man and her journey of self-discovery.
At the tender age of 7, Mary says she was already in love with singing and performed her first song, "Reunited," at a school talent show. Encouraged by her music teacher and some close family and friends, Mary continued performing every chance she could, hoping her talent would someday give her a chance at life outside her rough Bronx, New York City, neighborhood.
Still, she says it would be years before she believed in herself the way her fans did. "The encouragement wasn't coming from the place where it needed to come from, so it really didn't matter—even if I could blow the house down, you kind of always need that support system from the inside," she says.
Even if Mary didn't always recognize her amazing abilities, she was always willing to share her life journey with the public through her music. From drug and alcohol abuse, to painful and abusive relationships, Mary says she poured her heart out with honesty and raw emotion, especially on such albums as No More Drama. She says these days she has a newfound sense of confidence in herself. "Now I'm starting to come into my own and get more confident about my ability to sing."
In addition to her strong faith, Mary credits her husband Kendu Isaacs for helping her learn to accept herself and put the drama behind her. "I consider him as my best friend because honestly there is no one that would come to me the way he does without emotion, without some kind of hidden agenda behind it, other than to help me," she says. Mary says her next album is scheduled to come out in November 2007.