Singer Mary J. Blige is featured in the February issue of Interview Magazine which should be on a news stand near you by now. Mary’s interview is done by none other than great Stevie Nicks, who seems to have quite a following among R & B females. Destiny’s Child used her “Edge Of Seventeen” sample in their hit Bootylicious and even featured Stevie in the video.
Likewise, Mary also admits to being a fan and heavily influenced by Stevie’s music as a solo artist and as a part of Fleetwood Mac.
You can check out both the interview and photo shoot below.
MARY J. BLIGE
BY STEVIE NICKS
IF THE AMERICAN SOUL HAD A VOICE, IT MIGHT SOUND SOMETHING LIKE HERS
With the success of 2005’s The Breakthrough, it seemed that Mary J. Blige was ready to embrace the power of positive thinking. That may be true, but the singer hasn’t completely abandoned the soul-searching, get-in-touch-with-your-pain lessons that made her famous. On her recently released eighth studio album, and in her interview here with Stevie Nicks, Mary J. Blige explains just what Growing Pains (Geffen) is all about.
STEVIE NICKS: Mary J. Blige—how are you?
MARY J. BLIGE: I’m good.
SN: Where are you?
MJB: I’m at home in New Jersey. I was taking a nap.
SN: Are you an early-morning person?
MJB: I do better at night for sure. Because of the studio, you end up having to be a night person. But I have so much going on these days that I’m up early a lot.
SN: So I’ve got a few notes here; I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed someone, but it’s an interesting thing. Anyway, since this is a special issue on America, I thought a good place for us to start would be how you feel about the music business right now.
MJB: Well, I think it kind of got lost and we ended up in a drought for a while, but I see it making a turn, so instead of music being just synthetic, we’ll see it going back to actual instruments. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway, because that’s the kind of music I’m making.
SN: Speaking of the kind of music that you’re making, I just got your new album this afternoon. It’s a lot of music to take in, but I’m thrilled with what I heard. You know, how I feel about your music is strangely similar to the way I feel about my own.
MJB: Wow. Thank you, Stevie!
SN: Whenever anybody asks me about my process I’m like, “Well, whether I’m onstage, or in my living room with a small group, I have always tried really hard to pretend I’m playing the music for a few really trusted friends.” That has always been how I made it fun for myself. When I listen to your music, I trust you and believe you. And that is what I think is the heart of your success. I feel like the Internet and e-mail and texting has taken the place of calling up a friend and talking to them for an hour. And for children, it’s taken the place of playing and just having fun. That’s what music today feels like to me.
MJB: Right, it’s become very impersonal. You can’t touch it anymore. It’s synthetic. It’s like there’s no time for families at dinner tables anymore. And because of computers everything is really quick; nothing is homegrown; nothing is up close and personal anymore.
SN: And nothing is slow and beautiful and sensual. Everybody’s in a rush. But, anyway, I think your album’s terrific, and I think that these first five songs that I heard were really wonderful. And I love the way you sing—you remind me a little bit of Otis Redding, a little bit of Wilson Pickett. But I talk way too much, Mary. Now you talk.
MJB: [laughs] Well, I guess you ought to ask me some questions! But I want to say thanks for doing the interview. I love you, I love your voice, and I especially love your song “Dreams”—I’m tearing up right now because that song reminds me of when I was 6 years old. I don’t know what was going on for me during that time, but that song was one of the ones playing on the radio a lot then. I just love your voice from the days when you were in Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t know you—you just stood out. To this day there is not a voice out there that sounds like Stevie Nicks’s. It makes all the hair stand up on your back. I saw your Behind the Music interview and I was just blown away, and it made me think about myself. I was like, We’ve almost had the same lives, just in different generations. You know, there’s a song on my new album called “Come to Me (Peace)” that’s about making peace with your friends, your husband, yourself.
SN: I love the peace song.
MJB: Yeah. That song is just so incredible.
SN: Well, “Dreams” was totally inspired by a Spinners song. I don’t really remember which, because it was so long ago, but I think I wrote it in five minutes.
MJB: That is amazing. That song is so simple but very strong, like “Thunder only happens when it’s raining/Players only love you when they’re playing.” That line is so amazing.
SN: Isn’t it weird how today some people we know [in the music business] are referred to as “total players”? And that’s really what I was saying when I wrote that in 1976—”Players only love you when they’re playing,” which means as a woman in rock, many of the different affairs and relationships I had were built around the music and being on tour. And then, when the music was over, the relationships were over.
MJB: I felt that. I can hear that. I don’t think that kind of stuff ever changes—you just get wiser or dumber about it. Today a lot of music is just a bunch of noise. But the reason I said I feel music is taking a turn is because when I came out with The Breakthrough, it was my goal to bring some instruments back into the whole thing and to keep the integrity of the music, the content—content is very important. That’s why someone like Amy Winehouse is so important to the music business right now.
SN: If she makes it, and doesn’t lose her life in this whole thing.
MJB: I know—it’s very painful; I hope she makes it. But she’s important to the turn in music as far as great songwriters. There are also artists, like this young guy named Ne-Yo who writes great songs. And there’s another guy named Johnta Austin, who wrote the song “Be Without You” with me. The content in these records is really important. Like you said earlier, this is a very delicate time—people are very touchy and sad right now, and you’ve got to lift them up. [With my music] we’ve tended to always focus on “everything is bad, everything is negative, my man didn’t dig this, my husband’s doing that.” But what about focusing on a side of life where you could say, “You know what? I’m alive. I’m fine today. I’m feeling good.” And that’s to lift up people and to let them know that if we keep focusing on the negative, it’s only going to get worse. That was my whole reason for doing this kind of album—I’ve never done that and people were like, “Oh, this is different for Mary,” and, “We like it better when she’s a mess and when she’s sad.” But the choice I made was to uplift and to try and save people. And that’s why I named my album Growing Pains, because I’m continuing to grow, and when you grow, it hurts. To get off drugs hurts. But it’s all a part of growing.
To read the complete interview with the Mary J. Blige, pick up the February issue today.