Mary J. Blige recently stunned fans when she revealed that she’s experienced sexual abuse since the age of five years old, all the way into her adult life. Her comments echoed the pain and devastation that has unfolded into the Me Too movement. And now, in a new podcast discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” elaborated on the years of abuse and the tragic affect it had on her mental and physical health.
Prior to the fame, Blige had it rough. The singer was born in the Bronx, and admits growing up was a real struggle. At the age of 15, she had already experienced more than most girls her age. “I was going through so many different things,” she recalled. “I’ve been sexually harassed and abused… since I was a child all the way up into adulthood.”
She admitted that her sorrows eventually led her to experiment with alcohol and illegal substances. “These are the things that made me rebel and made me drink and made me do drugs,” she said. “I just wanted to forget that episode from five, and then I wanted to forget what happened at nine, and then I wanted to forget what happened at 16. And then I wanted to forget everything that just kept happening.”
Although the “Be Without You” singer used drugs and alcohol to escape her world at the time, she admits that music also offered a saving grace for her. It helped me to fly away from all of my negative situations,” she explained. Blige didn’t know that music would ultimately save her though. “I didn’t think it was a possibility for a long time,” she said. “It wasn’t something that I went after. It was something that came to me.”
It’s a good thing that music found her. Since Mary J. Blige’s debut in the early 90s, the singer has shot up to icon status. She’s released countless hit records, won a handful of awards, and has been branded as the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.” Most recently, Blige was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the drama film, Mudbound. And she received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on her 47th birthday on Jan. 11.
Listen to the rest of Blige’s comments on THR’s Awards Chatter podcast here.
(Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)