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Must See: Mary J. Blige Documentary and Performance

Let’s take a look at Blige’s 10 most memorable moments through her exceptional music videos and performances.

 To celebrate the world premiere of Sam Wrench’s documentary, Mary J. Blige The London Sessions, Blige herself will take the Beacon Theatre stage after the screening to perform several songs on Thursday, April 16.

No doubt the performance by the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul will include a track or two off The London Sessions, album number 13 for Blige and the subject of the film. Viewers will watch as Blige takes a hard left off the beaten path that is her hip-hop soul career and hits the airport runway. The destination’s London, where she collars with heavyweight talents like, Disclosure, Sam Smith, Emeli Sandé and more to bring dance flavor that recalls ’90s jams like Robin S’ “Show Me Love,” but feels fresh and radio ready.  

You can watch the making of her latest single “Doubt” in the documentary. This special screening is in partnership with American Express® and a Card Member Exclusive. Buy tickets here.

Before then, let’s take a look at Blige’s 10 most memorable moments through her exceptional music videos and performances. 

1992: Blige’s debut album What’s the 411? is released on the now-defunct Uptown Records

 

A video posted by Tribeca Film Festival (@tribeca) on

 

1994: Blige releases her sophomore effort, triple platinum My Life

Two years removed from her debut set, Mary reveals more about the hurt from her past by releasing the My Life album, one lead by the single “Be Happy.” It’s a cut that finds the  star yearning for joy, “Oh I cannot hide the way I feel inside (No I don't know why)/I don't know why but every day I wanna cry (Every day I wanna cry)/ If I give you one more try to these rules, will you abide,” she sings. The amazing part is that rhythmically, it’s an upbeat song that got play in clubs, making people dance while they hoped for a better day. 

February 28, 1996: Blige wins her first Grammy (of an eventual nine) for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Method Man duet “I’ll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By”

With Wu-Tung Clan rapper Method Man, Mary covers legendary duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s classic Motown single “You're All I Need to Get By,” surprisingly creating arguably the greatest hip-hop and R&B love song ever. Meth’ supplied the hardcore, passionate raps while Mary comes through with tenderness. The collab earns the pair a Grammy, Mary’s first of nine. 

1999: Performs Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” with Whitney Houston at VH1’s “Divas Live ‘99”

Is there anything better than getting to rock with an icon and holding your own? Blige would be hard-pressed to say no after superstar Whitney Houston confessed to being a huge fan of Mary’s at VH1’s 1999 special and then introduced her to assist in singing “Ain't No Way.” The rouge twosome astounded, of course. 

2002: “No More Drama” music video from Blige’s fifth studio album of the same name

From the album of the same name, Mary releases a harsh video that, again, picks at her wounded past. The “No More Drama” clip features scenes of drug addict struggling in city streets and a domestic violence scene playing out right after, tears, bruises and all. In February 2002 she ran through it at the Grammys. Blige not only brought U2 to their feet with her electric, heart-wrenching performance of “Drama,” but all in attendance at the 2002 Grammy Awards. There’s no way to watch her deliver personal issues like that and not stir up emotion. 

2005: Teams up with U2 for “One”

Now fully aware of Mary vocal prowess, U2’s Bono reaches out to the soul star to remake the rock band’s decade old ode to unity, “One.” The black and white performance video that pairs with the single hits is hard as the sentiment they’re portraying. 

January 20, 2009: Performs “Lean on Me” at Obama’s inauguration and later performs “Just Fine.”

The only thing that touches performing with iconic figures is performing for future ones. At the inauguration for the United States’ first African American president, Mary was one of the chosen few selected to sing for President Barack Obama. Attempting to ensure that his stint as leader of the free world would be smooth, she pulled out her feel-good classic “Just Fine.”

2012: Performs “Gimme Shelter” with the Rolling Stones at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn during their 2012 world tour

Once again, Mary proves that she’s more than just popular among her Black audience, being called by Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stones. She jams on their classic “Gimme Shelter” at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. It wasn’t her first time either. She joined to legends in London just a month prior. 

January 2014: Disclosure’s “F For You (Remix)” Music Video feat. Blige

 

Showing range and the type of all-around hipness not usually seen by veteran talent, Mary connects with newbie production duo Disclosure. The pair of English brothers joined with her on the remix for “F For You,” which was the follow-up to their massive Sam Smith-featuring hit “Latch.” The UK collaboration functions as a sign of things to come from MJB. 

November 24, 2014: Blige releases The London Sessions, her thirteenth studio album

 Blige takes a hard left off the beaten path that is her hip-hop soul career and hits the airport runway. The destination’s London, where she collars with heavyweight talents like, Disclosure, Sam Smith, Emeli Sandé and more to bring dance flavor that recalls ’90s jams like Robin S’ “Show Me Love,” but feels fresh and radio ready. It’s lead single is “Therapy,” about getting things off her chest. And at its core, the soul known to be in all of Mary’s music still booms. You can watch the making of her latest single “Doubt” in the documentary. 

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