Mary J. Blige Brings Backyard BBQ Vibe To 'Good Morning America' Set

July 2, 2010

The queen of hip-hop soul sang new and old hits to a crowd of all ages Friday morning.

It seemed fitting that ABC's "Good Morning America" had set a picnic table for a Southern comfort food segment they were hosting on Friday morning (July 2), just moments before R&B diva Mary J. Blige took the stage as part of the network's summer concert series. Yes, it was New York City's Central Park, but the vibe on the vast stretch of turf was all Fourth of July backyard family barbecue.

Spontaneous chants of "Mary, Mary, Mary" went up as a quick survey of the "GMA" crowd revealed fans of all ages. Blige finally showed, opening with the relentlessly uptempo "Just Fine." Nine studio albums and as many Grammys later, the singer who defined the drama of heartbreak for a generation proved again how far she's come since the wrenching pain of her My Life days. As if to underscore that point, Mary J. tugged off her ever-present sunglasses midway through the song, smiling knowingly and drawing rousing shouts from the crowd.

The hometown girl (Blige grew up in Yonkers, New York) even made a personal bid on behalf of the New York Knicks, trying to woo NBA free agent LeBron James. Next, she moved the set to her most recent LP, Stronger With Each Tear, tearing into the ballad "I Am," a belly-deep plea to a love, detailing all of the reasons he should stay.

Blige seemed to stretch each vowel, lingering on each word: "I just want you to know/ Baby, I love you so/ There is no need to go looking for more/ 'Cause I've got everything you'll ever need right here!"

It's not just that this R&B soul survivor exudes a hard-won serenity these days, even her instrument has evolved: The raspy edges, once fueled by alcoholic excess, are still there, but the sound is full, strong, and most important, controlled.

Blige finished "I Am" seemingly breathless — with the devoted concertgoers filling in her staccato "oh-oh-oh"s — then launched into "Family Affair," from her acclaimed, multiplatinum No More Drama. Fans weren't shy about dancing, and Mary did her signature move: bending at the waist with her head bopping. The R&B diva, dressed in a black, bell-sleeve romper paired with knee-high, open-toe gladiator boots — beamed and thanked fans repeatedly for their love.

As the clock pushed past the 9:00 hour, the cameras stopped rolling, but Blige kept singing. ("That's why we love you, Mary!" one fan shouted.) The queen of hip-hop soul confessed that she was especially happy that morning. Blige, who dropped out of high school in her teens, had recently received an honorary diploma, she revealed. "So if I look a little more confident [that's why]," she added with a laugh.

With that, she delivered a poignant, tearful "No More Drama" over spare piano, clutching her abdomen at one point. There were tears, and not just onstage.


Anonymous at: July 4, 2010 at 7:10 PM said...

cant wait to get the perfume, i hope it smells sweet and soft cuz i cant stand strong stuff.

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