May 24th, 2024

Mary J. Blige enlists Taraji P. Henson, Tiffany Haddish and more for women’s summit in New York

By Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press on May 2, 2024.

FILE - Mary J. Blige performs at the Essence Festival on July 6, 2019, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Mary J. Blige is bringing her mission to empower women beyond her music to her hometown – with the help of the singer’s superstar friends.

Taraji P. Henson, Tiffany Haddish and Jill Scott and other stars and experts will join Blige for her Strength of a Woman Summit and Festival starting May 10. Her three-day event during Mother’s Day weekend in New York will feature concerts, comedy shows, a gospel brunch, panel discussions along with workshops focusing on technology, beauty, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

On Thursday, organizers announced additional speakers including Henson, Marsai Martin, Method Man, Larenz Tate, Tasha Smith and Pinky Cole. The event will be hosted by comedian Jess Hilarious and podcaster Gia Peppers.

“We’re teaching each other, holding each other and uplifting each other,” the R&B singer said in a recent interview. “We’re helping each other to sustain in our businesses and sustain in the mental health and everything.”

Blige launched the Strength of a Woman event in 2022 after years of seeing women at her concerts “hanging on every word like my life is theirs.” The singer felt she connected with concertgoers when she delivered her own deep stories of overcoming pain.

“I was thinking to myself, “˜Let me do something more than just sing to them,'” said Blige, a nine-time Grammy winner who has won an Emmy, earned two Oscar nominations and will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this year.

“In the middle of my songs, it just jumps out of me,” she continued. “Some kind of words of inspiration. People love that. My team and I thought, “˜Why don’t we just create a festival about the same thing?'”

After two successful years in Atlanta, Blige moved her festival to her native New York City. She will hold a massive concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with guest appearances by 50 Cent, Scott, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Lola Brooke and Muni Long. Robert Glasper will headline a jazz concert at the Blue Note Jazz Club while Haddish will hit the stage for a comedy show at the Apollo Theatre.

Along with entertainment, Blige said she wants to provide resources that will help uplift and inspire attendees to achieve success in their lives.

“I’m doing my job,” she said. “I’m doing what I’ve been sent here to Earth for. I’m doing my job by uplifting women and letting them know you’re not the only one. You can come here as a safe haven and receive comfort.”

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