Mary J. Blige: ‘I’m Not Worried, Trying To Keep It Real — I Am Real’

Mary J Blige is seen performing on stage at the 2014 Essence Music Festival Concert - Day 3 at Superdome on Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 in New Orleans, LA. (Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
Mary J Blige is seen performing on stage at the 2014 Essence Music Festival Concert - Day 3 at Superdome on Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 in New Orleans, LA. (Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
Mary J Blige is seen performing on stage at the 2014 Essence Music Festival Concert – Day 3 at Superdome on Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 in New Orleans, LA. (Donald Traill/Invision/AP)

(NPR) – Jason King, host of our R&B channel I’ll Take You There, interviewed Mary J. Blige, the beloved singer who’s won nine Grammys and sold over 50 million albums in a career that’s now more than two decades long, in New York City just before her most recent album, The London Sessions, was released.

“It was starting to feel like work,” Blige told King, talking about this time last year, before she heard a song called “F for You” by British duo Disclosure. “I lost my mind over it. It reminded me of something that I grew up on.” Mary says she listened to a wide variety of music as a child, and in the early ’90s, when we were all listening to her, she was listening to house singers: CeCe Peniston, Robin S, Aly-Us. Two weeks after she came across the Disclosure song, the remix she recorded was exploding in London and then, quickly, in the U.S., too.

The rapturous response to that remix led to a full album of new songs written by Mary and a murderers row of young talent from across the pond. She says they’re the sound of her freeing herself. “No one’s gonna take me out of the box,” she says. “I feel stagnant. Stuck. Stale. I gots to move on. I gotta get out of here. And that’s why I went and took the jump to London.”

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