AT THE TOP OF HER PROFESSIONAL GAME, MARY J. BLIGE PREPARES TO TAKE THE STAGE IN ATLANTIC CITY
BY JON DOMENIC
By the time Mary J. Blige takes the Borgata stage on February 16 and 17 with crooner Maxwell, as part of the pair’s King and Queen of Hearts Tour, she’ll know whether three recent award nominations resulted in statuettes for her mantle.
In December, Blige was nominated for two Golden Globes one for her role as Florence in the cinematic drama Mud bound, the other for the song she co wrote for the film. Days later, she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress by the Screen Actors Guild for that same role the matriarch of a sharecropper family in World War II era Mississippi. Both awards ceremonies take place in January.
The Bronx born Blige is considered an icon of R&B, hip hop, and soul music, and has won nine Grammy Awards out of 32 nominations. In addition to eight multi platinum albums, she has received five American Music Awards and has sold over 50 million albums worldwide.
Influenced by Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, Blige signed her first music contract at 18 and released her first album (produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs), What’s the 411, in 1992, which went multi platinum. Chart topping hits include “Be Without You,” “No More Drama,” and “Family Affair,” and A-list collaborators have included Barbra Streisand, David Foster, and Mark Anthony.
Her current tour mate, Brooklyn native Gerald “Maxwell” Rivera (aka Musze), is a Caribbean/American singer songwriter, record producer, and actor. He is among those credited with helping shape what has been termed the “neo soul” movement that rose to prominence during the late 1990s.
Blige, who co penned “I Can See in Color” for 2009’s Precious soundtrack, branched out thereafter into acting; she appeared in Tyler Perry’s film I Can Do Bad All By Myself (released later that year) and starred in 2012’s Rock of Ages alongside Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin. In 2013, she starred as Betty Shabazz in the TV movie Betty & Coretta, its script dramatizing events in the lives of the widows of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. She also starred as a mysterious guardian angel in the 2013 holiday musical film drama Black Nativity, and has guest starred in the ABC series Blackish and How to Get Away with Murder, in the FOX drama Empire, and as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the NBC musical The Wiz LIVE.
The current leg of Blige’s tour began in Philadelphia in November and coursed to cities like New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto before heading to New Jersey. Following two shows in Atlantic City (the only Garden Sate appearances), the tour ends with two shows in Biloxi, Mississippi; the last on February 24.