Mary J. Blige is doing double duty at this year’s Oscar race, nominated in two categories! She will perform her Oscar nominated song “Mighty River” and she is up for Best Supporting Actress as Florence Jackson in the Netflix movie “Mudbound”. She is taking a page from the Oprah playbook by delving into acting. She has appeared in the movie version of “Rock of Ages” and Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” as well as TV roles.
Let’s not forget what got her here which is music! Both a songwriter and singer, Blige’s 1992 album “What’s the 411” was produced by Puff Daddy and one of the biggest albums of the 90’s. She is the most successful hip-hop/R&B female artist with 75 million records sold! She is on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers list and she brought that to Tampa at the Amalie Arena to the crowd of 7,000.
Appearing in a glittering skin jumpsuit and boots, at 47 years old, she slayed the look! Opening with “Love Yourself” back and forth on the stage, dancing and strutting she was in complete control. One of the most powerful female singers both in voice and attitude on any stage! A band and 3 back round singers, she barely stopped to breath. Talking to the Tampa crowd and letting them know she is hanging there and going through her ups and downs in a publicly difficult divorce. “Don’t give up your power to another” she said to the audience, “God is my everything”. She put her emotions all out there and it made for one of the most raw, emotional performances I have seen at a concert.
In the second half of the show, she came out in knee-hi boots and one piece with a black hat that was stunning! “My Life” bringing the audience to their feet, singing the lyrics back at her. In one of her biggest hits, “No More Drama”, you could feel the truth in the lyrics, kneeling down, laying on the stage she let us see it all! I will be watching the Oscars and rooting her on! There is a reason they call her the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul – She brings it!
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography