It's been two-and-a-half years since Mary J. Blige released her last effort, 2014's The London Sessions, but it would be the process of crossing the Atlantic and recording that LP (which saw her explore and master British soul, pop, and dance) that would eventually help the legendary singer heal from personal tragedy and garner the strength to create its follow-up: her aptly-titled thirteenth album Strength of a Woman, out today.
In a recent sit-down with REVOLT TV, Blige admitted that traveling both literally and figuratively outside of the box assisted her in developing the drive behind the current work, saying:
"That was me getting out my comfort zone. Before I went overseas, I was going through hell in the United States, so ['Strength'] was not always written from a perspective of me losing my marriage, this album was being written from the perspective of me fighting for my marriage, and so I found the strength in Europe."
With the LP serving as an invitation for listeners to join her in this "human experience," we spoke to Blige about the moments she feels strongest, what song she's most excited for fans to hear, what she hopes they do after consuming the album, and why "it's okay not to be okay."
Read excerpts and watch the full interview below.
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHARE MY WORLD AND STRENGTH OF A WOMAN: The immediate difference is that Mary was definitely searching for herself; this Mary has found herself.
ON WHAT SONG SHE'S MOST EXCITED FOR FANS TO HEAR: It would probably be 'Set Me Free' because I feel like I deserve a moment to turn my two middle fingers up to everybody—not everybody! [laughs]
ON HOW SHE DEFINES STRENGTH: Strength is not always in denying yourself, sometimes strength is in just letting go; strength is not always in tensing up.
Listen to Strength of a Woman, featuring Kanye West, DJ Khaled, Missy Elliott, Quavo, Kaytranada and more, below via Spotify, TIDAL, and Apple Music.