Mary J. Blige’s “My Life” perfume made its official debut over the weekend at the Essence Music Festival. Named after the singer’s 1994 multi-platinum album, My Life is Mary’s first foray into fragrance design and the first celebrity fragrance to be launched via the Carol’s Daughter skincare line.
Set to go on sale July 31st via HSN, My Life is described by Blige as a floral scent with notes of gardenia, white freesia and incense. And always one to give back to the community, $1 from every bottle sold will go to Mary’s FFAWN Foundation, which services disadvantaged women in Mary’s hometown of Yonkers, New York.
Mary spoke about her new fragrance during a Q&A session as the festival- you can read it below.
Q: Essence Fest seems like a perfect place to unveil your new scent. It’s a mix of the beauty and music worlds. What are you most looking forward to this weekend?
A: “So many people from all over the world come to Essence. I was in London, and I saw this woman who said she heard me at Essence. To give your all and give everything about you to an audience like that, it’s exciting.”
Q: You’ve always been very forthcoming with your fans about some of the hardships you’ve faced, from clinical depression to abuse. In your hit “Be Happy” from the “My Life” album, you sing: “I don’t know why but every day I wanna cry.” How did those songs help you get through those tough times?
A: “The ‘My Life’ album was when I started to cry out for help. I was confused and on the verge of suicide and being abused in relationships that I had drawn to myself that were negative. I began to speak on that album publicly; it was a cry for help. And so many women spoke back to me.”
Q: You named your fragrance after that album.
A: “It’s very real and personal; that’s what I wanted to give, and that’s what I wanted to deliver (in the perfume).”
Q: How involved were you in the design of the scent?
A: “I was 100 percent involved. It was one of the most enlightening things … to sit in a room and have to smell the different scents you like and have them go into a lab with you and test them again and smell them again, and put them all together … This one is me. It’s soft and edgy and strong and smart, and it’s sexy. It’s everything that I imagine myself to be.”
Q: Now that My Life is about to be released, do you plan on doing additional fragrances?
A: “We’re already on to the next ones for winter and summer.”
Q: So $1 from every bottle will go to the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now . What types of work does the foundation do and what are some of the charitable projects you’re working on now?
A: “We want to give women a second chance in their lives, to educate them and empower them and encourage them, to let them know they’re not alone. My story has been all of that. I got a second chance at a successful life, not just in the music business but spiritually and physically. “For the Women’s Academy of Excellence (in the Bronx), we raised money to send 25 women to college with four- to five-year scholarships. For the record, I just received my high school diploma yesterday (Monday). The city of New York gave me my high school diploma … and now Howard University has accepted me. “That’s what FFAWN is about, (showing) it’s never too late to do the work. Those young women (from the Women’s Academy of Excellence) are going to college.”
Q: You and Catherine Malandrino recently held a benefit fashion show for FFAWN. How did that come about?
A: “I’ve been friends with Catherine for years now, and not just designer fake friends. She’s a real person, down-to-earth (and) a real businesswoman. Being friends with her, she wanted to do a collaboration. We had done T-shirts, and we wanted to empower more people.”
Q: So what’s up next? You’re studying French to play Nina Simone in a film?
A: I’m so excited. The role seems like it was made for me. I was born to be this woman in this film. (laughing) The French is coming along in the singing of the songs more so than (with) the speaking.”
Q: Was Nina Simone a big inspiration for you?
A: “I had no knowledge of her. I had heard of her. But when I had to play her, I started working and digging and reading books about her life. Now she’s one of my biggest inspirations. She was a phenomenal woman.”
Q: Being involved with so many other projects — acting, fashion, fragrance — does it distract you from making music?
A: “There’s a distraction. You could do a fragrance and do an album all in the same year. The distraction (comes in) when you have to shoot a movie. Everything else shuts down.”