That’s the word Mary J. Blige uses to describe the moment heard ‘round the internet between herself and Secretary Hillary Clinton. The minute-long clip, featuring the Queen of R&B Soul’s a capella singing, served as the coming attraction for her upcoming Apple Music show, The 411 With Mary J. Blige, and immediately became the inspiration for knee-jerk online banter, a tell-tale sign that someone may have missed the point.
The song, “American Skin (41 Shots),” was originally recorded by Bruce Springsteen in 2000 as a reaction to the tragic 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo at the hands of the NYPD. Still a sign of the times sixteen years later as the spirited #BlackLivesMatter movement carries on the fight against police brutality, Blige explained that she was moved by Springsteen’s lyrics during a lunch event held by Apple Music in New York City on Wednesday (Sept. 28). “The lyrics resonated with me so deeply and so heavily, because of all of the shootings and the police brutality, and I never got a chance to say anything. So I got an opportunity to do an interview with Hillary Clinton, and somebody like me don’t ever get an opportunity like that, ever.”
The opportunity, which made Blige visibly nervous during the full 30-minute feature, transcends the viewer past previous Apple Music programming and into waters charted by Good Morning America. Taking both women out into the deep end while on Clinton’s campaign trail in San Francisco, the sit-down ranges in topics from faith to family to womanhood. Before the conversation segues into America’s tainted race relations, Blige makes the bold decision to share her rendition of Springsteen’s song. The move was one that was true to her roots, Blige said to the room of invited members of the press, which included a living room-style screening of the 411 premiere episode.
“I’m a singer first before I’m a journalist,” she pointed out. “This journalist stuff is brand new, so that’s the only way I can express myself. The lyrics impacted me so heavily and so deeply – it made me cry, it’s like a prayer – that I needed Mrs. Clinton to be impacted the same way. So the only way I can get that reaction from her is to sing it.”
Despite criticisms against the first female presidential candidate for a major American political party, Blige is an unapologetic supporter of Clinton. Her stance was cemented by meeting Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where the singer performed. Blige shared that Clinton warmly encouraged her to abandon her nerves before taking the stage. “She hugged me like a grandma. I needed that hug at the moment,” she said. The fond memory led to having the former first lady and senator as the first guest on Blige’s new undertaking. And one goal of the show was to encourage indecisive voters to choose a side. “So many people don’t wanna vote for either her or Donald, so to have people see Mary J. Blige sitting down with Hillary Clinton, hopefully it will provoke them to go and vote. Because I like Hillary Clinton, and I don’t give a s**t who doesn’t.”
As for whether or not a capella performances will be a recurring part of The 411 With Mary J. Blige, the singer/newly-coined journalist assures it was a one-time-only event.
“That was just for Hillary Clinton, with that specific song, ‘American Skin,’” she said. “That won’t ever happen again. That was just for her. Come on, you have Hillary Clinton in the room, you’re gonna be the best of whatever you’re gonna be. You’re gonna try to make her feel the times that we’re in. She needed to feel that this whole police brutality mess is a nightmare. Are you with me on this?”
The 411 With Mary J. Blige premieres on Apple Music this Friday (Sept. 30), where both subscribers and non-subscribers can experience the interview in its entirety.
(Photo: Apple Music)