After appearing on the stage at the very first Essence Music Festival, Mary is no stranger to the occasion. Of all the women who have appeared on the Essence stage over the years, Mary J. Blige is considered the Queen of the Essence Music Festival.
Mary is the big sister that every lady in the arena wish they had. She is a complete open book, real, and relatable. What is interesting is that Mary has been able to use this brashness to connect with many fans of her raw work. These fans can identify with the realities of her struggles and closely relate.
Her music has become an anthem for her many fans who themselves often feel like victims of society's pressures. Mary's music become an inspiration to make it. Her personal courage and strength to pull through many abrasive situations and then to relive it through music has been the drive of a beautiful connection between she and her fans. This seat on the throne has solidified Mary J. Blige as the Queen of R&B.
Earlier in the evening, she stepped into the Press Room with the poise of royalty, carrying herself just as a Queen should. In fact, someone even shouted "The Queen!," as Mary displayed a humble smirk in response. When asked about her Essence performance, she exclaimed how exciting it is to be a part of the celebration even this many years later.
Mary stepped onto the Essence main stage rocking a pair of sunglasses, a white jacket, a white jumpsuit, and old-school white high-top tennis shoes. The band and background vocalists were situated on a riser at the back of the stage. She had a few male dancers that rocked the stage with her as well. However, other than that, the Queen held court all alone.
As Mary proclaimed, "I've got to keep fighting for my life," she said. "The higher the level, the bigger the devil," her many 'home girls' in the Superdome backed her up with support. You could almost feel the pain and relation in the crowd's many screams and jeers of support.
Mary jooked the house down while rolling through hit after hit. The crowd was on their feet singing along to hits such as "Real Love" and "Reminisce," both from her 1992 debut album, "What's the 411?". She really started getting it turnt up during "My Life"; especially when the Superdome crowd start bucking her up with the a raucous chant of "Go Mary, Go Mary!". That's exactly what Mary did, was go. She went with hit after hit- 11 of them to be exact- before moving onto a slower part of the show filled with many of her powerful ballads and moving slower tracks.
Throughout the show Mary's fashion game was undeniably on point. After coming out in the white ensemble mentioned before, Mary left the stage to change shoes. After rocking out in those for a while she left again, this time to change her entire ensemble to black. She came back out wearing a black hat, black jumpsuit, and black suede thigh-high boots.
She moved on to this part, which would be the final part, of the show with the 'Waiting to Exhale' ballad "Not Gon' Cry." "All the time that I was loving you, you were busy loving yourself," she belted all while stimulating every bit of emotion felt when this song was first being played years ago.
Mary introduced her new hit "Suitcase," the first single from the "Think Like a Man Too" soundtrack in an effort to give a little feel of where she is now. However, the energy climaxed as she then went on to introduce "No More Drama," her signature anthem, which is even more powerful today than it was even over a decade ago.
The Queen belted out each note with every bit of raw emotion that pulled the crowd in and let them know, she still feels the intensity of this song of praise. In fact she attested to this very truth with the testimony as she closed the performance with, "oh, I swear I mean this, every word," and she truly did.