Mary J. Blige, in many ways, transcends music. She set the tone for many who’ve come after her with a career that has spanned decades.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or one who recently came to know her after her part in the acclaimed 2022 Super Bowl halftime show (with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar), Blige is certainly one of the most important names in popular music over the past few decades.
With hits like “Family Affair” and “Good Morning Gorgeous,” Blige has made a significant imprint on culture. But what does the artist have to say about the world outside of song? What are her thoughts of her on life, love, her craft, and her pursuit of happiness?
That is the inquiry we’re here to explore. So, without further ado, here are the 29 best Mary J. Blige quotes.
1. “I know who I am. I am not perfect. I’m not the most beautiful woman in the world. But I’m one of them.”
2. “There’s so many things that life is, and no matter how many breakthroughs, trials will exist and we’re going to get through it. Just be strong.”
3. “Believe in yourself when nobody else does.”
4. “You can’t get around pain and opposition, but you can try to be joyful in the trial, and thank yourself for the trial, and thank God for the strength to get through it.”
5. “I don’t know. Only God knows where the story ends for me, but I know where the story begins. It’s up to us to choose, whether we win or lose and I choose to win.”
6. “You either learn from your experiences or go back and do the same thing, and I learned from my experiences.”
7. “Life is full of trials and tribulations. It’s dramatic when you don’t treat people right when you’re in the tribulations, but I know now how to get out of it. You have to make a decision to say ‘No more’, and then you know what to do when the trials happen.”
8. “I used to think I was ugly. I thought I looked like a camel. A person who doesn’t love themselves, they will see anything that pops up on their face. I’ve seen squirrels, I’ve seen a bird, and I’ve seen all kinds of animals on my face. But that is the result of self-hatred. I’ve learned to say: ‘You know what? I am a beautiful black woman.’”
9. “Really, every woman is an example to me, because as women we go through so much pain. We have to live this perfect life when we are messed up inside. We all go through trials and tribulations.”
10. “When life is real, it’s not going to be smooth.”
11. “I wish I had known that education is the key. That knowledge is power. Now I pick up books and watch educational shows with my husband. I’m seeing how knowledge can elevate you.”
12. “Music makes us want to live. You don’t know how many times people have told me that they’d been down and depressed and just wanted to die. But then a special song caught their ear and that helped give them renewed strength. That’s the power music has.”
13. “One day I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere by blaming other people for my circumstances. I finally understood: Even if you feel someone has wronged you or owes you something, no one is going to give you anything for free.”
14. “The music business is not a good place for people who don’t know things.”
15. “I had to learn how to trust my gut. Trust what I know to be right… not right, but not waver on who I am. Know who I am, know what I want, and know it. Do not waver on it and be secure in that. And I still struggle with it. But I really… I can’t be moved. You can’t move me, and that all comes with loving myself, and I’m like my best buddy.”
16. “There’s not enough time to be disrespecting… Life is too short.”
17. “Just don’t let the hype of what people are saying and how much they love you, already know, just take the compliment and be thankful that people are complimenting you, but don’t let it consume you; don’t let your circumstances around you and the way people view you make you act a certain way.”
18. “You can hate me. You can go out there and say anything you want about me. But you will love me later because I told you the truth.”
19. “From being a little girl in the projects, going through all of the mess that I was going through, to ending up at the Inauguration for the first African-American president, I’m speechless right now because I never thought I’ d—I never ever—I couldn’t even see that far. Even when I ended up in the music business, I couldn’t see that.”
20. “I do consider myself part of black history.”
21. “I think women should band together to get us more respect in all the businesses that we’re in because, you know, if we turn 40, we’re nothing and nobody. We all should band together and just say we’re not gonna go down like that.”
22. “So as long as I’m a human being and I’m not perfect, I’m able to say I’m having some growing pains. Because in order to sustain where you are once you made such a breakthrough that everyone is looking at you, now everyone is like, ‘Ooh, is she gonna make a mistake?’ Yes, I’m going to make a mistake. Yes, I’m still gonna do things.”
23. “I’ve been praying to God to show me how to forgive myself. Because… maybe… that’s the thing I’ve been searching for.
24. “I don’t listen to people’s opinions. I have people around me who I can trust, but most of all I listen to myself.”
25. “I felt ashamed about everything. Dropping me out of high school, me not, you know, just not being beautiful enough. I just didn’t feel like I was smart enough or beautiful enough, you know, for years.
26. “Even if you feel someone has wronged you or owes you something, no one is going to give you anything for free.”
27. “When someone comes up to me and says, ‘Mary, you helped save my marriage’, or ‘Mary, you helped me get out of this abusive relationship’, I’m in it, really in their lives. And I’m so passionate about my feelings, but also about showing people the way through theirs.”
28. “It’s challenging to find an identity as a young person if you don’t have the sustenance of love because you’re being shipped around.”
29. “This music business can suck all the love out of you, all the compassion for people—you can start to think you’re better than them. But I want to continue to let people know that I’m no better and no worse, I’m just like you.”
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