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Reported by Andrew Scot Bolsinger
Blige is one of the most successful and influential recording artists of her generation, but her Christian faith is the central core of her life. She also attributes her faith to her success in figuring out who she is. Mary J. Blige, a former drug addict, grew up in church but says she never knew who God really was until her adult life.
“I understand better now who God is now that I’ve become a woman and a Christian,” she said in a recent interview. Blige said church was just what she did as child, not the faith that she now has. “I wasn’t a Christian when I was a child, I just went to church. I understood from childhood that there was something really big watching over me and it was God. And I was afraid to steal and lie. I was afraid to do anything that was wrong. I always got this feeling like, ‘Uh oh,’” she said.
The Pentecostal church gave her a vision for singing, much as it did for other superstars like Whitney Houston who grew up singing in church. Once she became successful, she returned to the faith of her childhood.
“It was later [in life], when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, that I found out who I am. I’m a child of God. God is my mommy, my daddy. That’s the only thing that’ll keep my head up. If I don’t remember who I am in him, I’m done…,” she said. “When I became a Christian, it was something I had to do because my whole life as a young adult was so bad. Things were just so bad that when I decided to make a change in my life, I went to God about my life. And he led me to other Christians, like my husband, like my pastor. And I started studying the Word. Now I get it. I understand it more, through the Word. That’s why I know God is love.”
A family friend sëxually assaulted the singer when she was just five years old. She kept the abuse to herself for 25 years. Guilt consumed her, leading her to live her young adult life battling addictions to alcohol and cocaine.
Blige has sold more than 50 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. She has received nine Grammy Awards as well as 30 Grammy nominations, and she is the only artist to have won Grammys in the R&B, Rap, Pop, and Gospel fields, according to Praise Philly.
In 2007, she was named to TIME Magazine’s 100 list of influential individuals around the world.