Greetings again from the darkness. The project began as a way to document the 25th anniversary of Mary J Blige’s enormously influential album “My Way” and her celebratory live performance to mark the milestone of the album. Vanessa Roth won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject FREEHELD (2007), and as director of this film, she turned it into a profile of the woman behind the music, resulting in surprisingly effective life lessons for those in need.
As if to caution viewers that this is more than a concert film, we are five minutes in before director Roth allows us to hear Mary sing. We learn of her childhood in poverty living in the Yonkers projects, and how singing was her escape – a way to feel free. It was Sean “Diddy” Combs who discovered her for Uptown Records. Of course, Combs is now a hugely successful producer, musician, and entrepreneur, and he’s forthcoming in his recollections of those early years. “My Life” was Mary’s second album, and she’s credited with blending hip-hop and R&B and bringing a new music style to the masses. How successful has she been? Try 31 Grammy nominations (9 wins) and Two Oscar nominations (including one for acting).
Actress Taraji P Henson and multi-Grammy winning musician Alicia Keys both provide perspective on Mary’s influence, not just in the music world, but also in helping women believe in themselves. Mary J Blige has had emotional struggles, survived an abusive relationship, and overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol. Sharing her story and how she has persisted through the years turns this into a story of feelings, truth, and heart. The music is impressive and provides the platform, however, it’s the woman who shines through here.
Available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on June 25, 2021
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