Mary J. Blige Channels Her Pain Into Another Timeless Love Song (Audio)

Mary J. Blige is reportedly releasing a new album this year, and has just dropped a searing record about her divorce. Undoubtedly one of the greatest R&B and Soul singers of all time, Mary J. Blige has been championed for giving voice to women’s pain. Much of the reason for her success has been based on her ability to use her music to mourn her own heartbreak, allowing for carthasis to happen for listeners. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul has been winning Grammys since her 1996 award for “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” with Method Man, and solo albums like 1992’s What’s the 411? and 1994’s My Life (both triple-platinum selling) are replete with records about abusive relationships, painful breakups, and love affairs gone wrong. But also present are songs about personal triumph and happiness, and that combination has lasted throughout her 25-career history, all the way up to her most recent album, 2014’s The London Sessions.

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Recently, Mary J. has been dealing with a divorce (and subsequent fallout) from her partner of 12 years, using it as inspiration for her latest batch of music. In October of 2016, she released her first single from the still-forthcoming album, Strength of a Woman. “Thick Of It,” as she told Good Morning America, reflected some of the feelings she was experiencing while her marriage fell apart. “The breaking point was when I kept asking over and over and over again for respect and to be respected and it just seems like I was beating a dead horse and it seems like I was talking to a wall,” she said at the time. Her ex (and former manager) Martin “Kendu” Isaacs has been in court with Blige as recently as December, concerning spousal support. According to E!, Blige “claims Isaacs had been misappropriating money for two years, spending $420,000 in travel charges for hotels and airfare that were not related to her business and did not include her.”

Now it seems Blige has once again opted to deal with the pain through her art, namely on her latest single “U + Me (Love Lesson).” In the five-minute record, she opens with “must have been crazy to think that you loved me/I saw all the signs but I just couldn’t say nothing.” Lamenting the time she invested in someone who lied and disrespected her, Mary J. also uses the song to celebrate the faith that has gotten her through the darkness thus far, and admits she has a long way to go before feeling whole again. It seems Strength of a Woman could prove to be the very thing that helps her heal.

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At the time when she filed for divorce in July, Mary J. released a statement saying “sometimes things don’t work how we hoped they would… But, there is a divine plan and a reason for everything.” Her rep added “Mary will continue writing and working on her album which is due out later this year along with her world tour. She thanks and appreciates her fans for their support and love through this very difficult emotional time.”