Mary J. Blige misses Whitney HoustonBy Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—“It’s strange that you would say that right now, because this is the hotel she died in,” Mary J. Blige answered when asked by a reporter about the late Whitney Houston, who was her friend. We were at the Beverly Hilton where the pop superstar died last Feb. 11.
“What I loved about Whitney was that she was a giver,” said Mary, who has an air of quiet nobility about her. We’ve always been struck by the multiple Grammy winner’s poise and calm demeanor. “Whitney gave and gave until she died. No one gave her the things that she desired back, which were support and love. What I’m going to take with me is to take care of myself and give myself something back. Just know that Whitney was an angel for women in the music business. I learned just how to be a lady from Whitney, and how to be a friend because she was my friend, as well.”
The singer behind eight multiplatinum albums said she herself had a bumpy road before finding a small circle of family and friends that she could trust. “It took me a long time to get here,” she admitted. “I made horrible people choices, because I didn’t love or like myself. So, I drew people to me who probably hated me but hid it. And so it was, ‘Oh Mary, do the drugs, do this, do that.’ That almost killed me. Now, I make better people choices, and I love Mary more.”
Mary, who’s actively pursuing an acting career, plays Justice, the owner of a gentleman’s club in the film adaptation of the hit stage musical, “Rock of Ages.” With a cast that includes Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, Mary gets to sing several ’80s rock anthems.
Asked if there’s a rebellious rock ‘n roll-type woman in her, Mary laughed and replied, “One-hundred percent! She shows up when I have to perform. That’s my rock girl. I’m a rock star, although I’m an R&B star. I have to let you know that my father was a musician. He was a bass player and he could play the piano. When we were kids, he taught us rock ‘n roll.”
The Bronx, New York native elaborated on how she began to develop confidence in herself as a singer at a young age. “By listening to music, I can mimic pretty much anything. I can do my own rendition of whatever singers did. So, when I was a kid, I joined a talent show, and I sang ‘Reunited’ by Peaches & Herb, a man and a woman. I sang both their parts. When you’re 7 years old and people are standing up, cheering and screaming, you know you got something.”
That 7-year-old has grown into a 40-year-old woman, who candidly answered the question, “Where am I right now?,” with, “I’m missing strength. Not that I’m not strong, but I need more of it.”
On what’s missing in her life, she answered, “I have kids (her stepkids—the children of her husband, Kendu Isaacs). A mother could be a better nurturer. I think I could definitely do that, but I’m definitely a friend to them. I’m not really missing anything. But, I would love to have more strength to deal with things.”
To keep centered in the chaotic world of show biz, Mary volunteered her routine: “Spiritually, in the morning, I must have time for myself, prayer time between God and me, talking, thanking Him, being grateful for every little thing I have, asking for forgiveness for the things I did wrong, knowing that I’m forgiven, not walking in guilt and condemnation and feeling terrible, because He doesn’t want me to feel bad. It’s people who make you feel bad about things that He already forgave you for.”
Looking ahead, Mary disclosed her dream project—to star in a Nina Simone biopic. “It’s in the works,” she shared. “It’s something that we’re talking about. I was studying her for about five years. I was going to acting classes. I became a fan while I was studying her. I didn’t know about her before. I’ve heard her songs and I would always say, ‘Who is this man?’ Because she has a very masculine, deep voice. Then I found out it was her. But, her songs would always give me goose bumps. Her music is inspirational!”
E-mail email@example.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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