Mary J. Blige Opens Center for Women In New York
For close to two decades, Mary J. Blige has been the poster child for female empowerment. The diva has helped the feminine set tackle their trials and tribulations through songs such as 'Not Gon Cry' and 'No More Drama.' Now, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul is offering a place where women can be educated, empowered and encouraged.
Those three E's are the foundation of the singer's newest project, the Mary J. Blige Center for Women.
Together with branding impresario Steve Stoute and Gucci creative director Frida Giannini, Blige last week unveiled the Yonkers, New York, building at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The Center is a partnership between the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN) -- a charity that Blige and Stoute co-founded in 2007 -- and Westchester Jewish Community Services.
By building the center, the R&B singer, who has publicly shared her battles with drug abuse and domestic violence, is providing women with a way out.
"As a child, I never saw a confident woman; I only saw women being abused," said Blige, a Yonkers native. "That's why I am here; that's why FFAWN exists. I want every girl and woman who walks through this door to know that she is loved, no matter who is telling her she isn't loved."
Blige also addressed another inner struggle that many young women who are abused may face -- the singer had contemplated committing suicide at a young age. However, Blige explained that through her faith and inner strength, she was able to overcome these thoughts.
"I guess what got me through when I was young was something I guess a lot of people don't have, and that was just the will," Blige told CNN. "I don't know what was driving me. I guess it was something in me did want to die -- you know, I guess my spirit didn't want to die, but my physical body definitely was -- at some point -- was like, I gotta get out of here. My physical body was contemplating suicide and all this other crazy stuff, and my spirit is what saved me, I believe."
House of Gucci's Giannini said she teamed with Blige for what she represents.
"She is a woman who really talks from her heart and from her own experiences, and she is a living example for all women in the world," Giannini said of Blige. "And at the same time, Gucci is a very powerful brand that can communicate in a very strong way. I thought that, together, we could make something very impressive. I think it's important to show that fashion isn't just about clothes and accessories -- it's about being involved with initiatives like this one and social responsibility."
Blige's ninth studio album, which will include the hits 'The One,' 'Stronger' and 'Said and Done,' is set for a December 1 release.