Mary J. Blige

In February 2006, R&B superstar Mary J. Blige took the Oprah Show stage to sing "Be Without You," a song off her album The Breakthrough. Little did she know, her single would climb to the top of the charts and spend 15 consecutive weeks at number one.

Months later, industry experts are still buzzing about The Breakthrough, which has sold more than six million copies worldwide. In December 2006, Mary took home nine Billboard Music Awards and received eight Grammy nominations—more than any other artist that year. "I'm going to watch the Grammys, and I hope you take all eight!" Oprah says.

The queen of hip-hop soul returns to Oprah's stage to give an encore performance of "Be Without You," the most downloaded song of her career.
Mary J. Blige

In 1992, Mary rose to stardom with the release of her debut album, What's the 411?, but it took almost 10 years for her to become the artist she is today. For years, Mary dealt with her troubled childhood by abusing drugs and alcohol. In 2001, she decided to turn her life around after the loss of a close friend, the 9/11 tragedy and the death of fellow hip-hop star Aaliyah.

Mary has been sober since 2001 and is now more successful than ever. What's her secret? Mary says she's taken responsibility for her life. "I can't change the world, so I've got to try to change myself to make life better for me," she says.

Strong faith and a loving husband—record producer Kendu Issacs—have also helped Mary make a "breakthrough." "The breakthrough is the self-love," she says. "I believe that I deserve way more than what I believe I deserved in the past. I believe I'm smart, I'm beautiful, I'm strong, I'm loved, I'm protected."

As a testament to her self-confidence, Mary sings "Take Me As I Am," another hit off her award-winning album. "[This song] sounds like it's a battle cry for women who have lost themselves but then found themselves," Oprah says.
Corinne Bailey Rae

If you're looking for a new artist to add to your iPod playlist, look no further than Corinne Bailey Rae. She's a soulful British songbird whose debut album received three Grammy nominations. Oprah says Gayle asked her for months to add Corinne to her iPod, and now she knows why. "After you hear her today, you're going to be [downloading] it, too," Oprah says.

This emerging artist grew up in Leeds, England, and is a melodic mix of her Caribbean dad and English mom. As a child, Corinne studied classical violin before joining an all-girl music group in her teens. Now, at age 27, Corinne has reinvented herself yet again. Corinne showcases her blend of jazz, reggae and soul on her self-titled album, which features the single "Put Your Records On."

Corinne says she wrote the guitar riff for her hit song while sitting in her bedroom. "I just wanted to write a song about not being afraid to be different," she says. "[It's] about finding your identity in music as well."

When Corinne was a teenager, she says she was drawn to many different music styles, including rock 'n' roll, indie rock, jazz and soul. "I love things that just pull on my heart."
Corinne's mother Linda

From the day Corinne was born, her mother Linda says she thought her daughter had something special. Then, at age 4, Corinne confirmed her mother's suspicions when she sang "Away in a Manger" for her.

"Everything she's done, she's done successfully," Linda says. "She makes right decisions, and I just feel really proud that she's my baby."
Corinne Bailey Rae sings 'Like a Star.'

Just a few years ago, Corinne checked coats and hats at a jazz club. These days, she's rubbing elbows with her idols at awards shows. Corinne says that meeting Mary J. Blige, one of her musical influences, was a very memorable moment for her.

"Afterwards I was so overwhelmed," she says. "I started crying and everybody's coming up, [saying], 'What's happened?' [I said], 'I just met Mary J. Blige.' ... That's been one of the most amazing things about this year is getting to meet people who I've really admired."

Corinne says her sudden success still feels very "surreal," but the feeling she gets when she takes the stage has remained the same. "When I'm actually singing the songs it feels amazing, and it feels like it always has," she says. "I love performing gigs."

As a special treat, Corinne performs "Like a Star," one of her most downloaded hits.
Carly Simon

Since the early '70s, Grammy, Oscar® and Golden Globe® winner Carly Simon has been baring her soul in one heartfelt hit after another. Her songs have chronicled the ups and downs of her life—from her marriage and divorce to pop icon James Taylor to the birth of their two children, Sally and Ben. Carly has also gained inspiration from her very private battles with depression and breast cancer.

One of the music industry's biggest mysteries revolves around Carly and her 1973 Billboard hit song, "You're So Vain." For decades fans have wondered who the song was written about—but Carly's lips are sealed. In fact, the only media member she has told her well-kept secret to is Dick Ebersol, an NBC executive who won a $50,000 auction to hear her muse's name. Oprah says now might be a good time to name names, but Carly just smiles. "Nice try, there," says Carly's daughter, Sally.
Ben Taylor, Sally Taylor and Carly Simon sing 'You Can Close Your Eyes.'

Alongside her children, Sally and Ben, Carly performs on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time. Their song, "You Can Close Your Eyes"—written by Carly's ex-husband James Taylor—appears on her latest album, Into White.
Ben Taylor, Sally Taylor and Carly Simon

Carly says she chooses to perform with Sally and Ben whenever possible. "Never is it better than with them. They are the heart and soul of my life," Carly says. Ben says singing with his mom is wonderful. "It's much easier than doing it without her, I'll tell you that. They don't let you come on Oprah without her," Ben jokes. "Honestly, it's amazing and fulfilling."

When asked why she chose to sing a song by her ex-husband, Carly says it was because he is "one of the great songwriters of all time."

Both Sally and Ben say they have songs by their parents on their iPods. "I put it on shuffle and it's like, 'Does anybody ever sing on your iPod besides your parents?' It gets a little bit embarrassing," Sally says.

Ben says growing up with famous parents gave him perspective on the reality of fame. "We didn't have the illusion of glamour that so many people have when they see it from the outside."
Carly Simon

Carly says that when she found out she had breast cancer, it was "hell" for a few hours, but then she rallied her spirit. "I went into it very triumphantly, because that's the way you have to approach it," Carly says.

Carly, who also suffers from depression, says she is in a good place now, but in "about five minutes from now, I could be in the worst place in all get-out." She says depression can come upon her in a "burst," and that she tries not to fight the feelings.

"I try to go all the way into it so I can fulfill that expectancy, so I can get all the way out of it. If you tempt yourself by saying, 'No, no, no, I won't go there,' it won't usually end as fast," Carly says.
FROM: Mary J. Blige, Carly Simon and Corinne Bailey Rae
Published on January 16, 2007


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