Black Music Innovators: Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige is the Queen of R&B Soul for many reasons, as she has played a major role in defining what a female R&B artist is. Through her heartfelt lyrics and music, she has allowed her fans to share her world. From women searching for “Real Love” to being “Fine”, all women can relate.

We watched her grow professionally as an artist and spiritually as a person. She is also a fashion icon with her one of kind style, a mixture of street with class. With her talent and flair, she is an inspiration to many, especially newer singers like Keyshia Cole, Fantasia Barrino, and Chrisette Michelle.

Keyshia Cole was inspired by Mary as a little girl growing up in the hood. She thinks of her as an inspiration of where she would like to be one day. Keyshia recognizes the hard work it takes and how strong she has to be to endure the life of a celebrity, constantly in the public eye. We can hear the same stories and pain in Keyshia’s first album “The Way It Is” and the similar changes she is experiencing. She is on an excellent start to becoming like her child hood idol.

Chrisette Michelle, with only two albums released, has already shown to be vocally talented and have her own finesse. We can already see the footsteps are similar to Mary’s early years, with songs of break ups, love, and letting go. Like Mary, Chrisette has been featured in Hip Hop songs, one of my favorites “Lost One” by Jay Z. Mary has touched so many artists and we see her work reflected in today’s R&B world.

American Idol may have made Fantasia Barrino’s dream come true, but it was innovators like Mary that gave her the inspiration to even try out in the first place. Despite having experienced some rough relationships, she has stayed focused and worked hard to become a Grammy nominee early on in her career. Like Mary, her influences included Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin. Fantasia sings with a passion and soul, touching our lives like Mary has with her voice. She is an outstanding performer and charismatic artist. We see her true colors, and hear her life in her songs. A promising and long career awaits her.

We can feel the artist’s emotions, are touched by some songs more than others, get goose bumps when we hear them sing, and emulate their style. We are inspired to be strong and make better decisions from the stories told to us, as if the message was directed to us. Mary has had that impact in her fans, in all of life’s paths from little girls in church choirs, single mothers struggling to get by to aspiring singers and renowned Grammy nominee artists.
—— By: Karina Martinez


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