I totally understand why Mary J. Blige – who was cast as Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the Dec. 3 performance of The Wiz Live! – would love to see her life story on the illustrious New York stage. Being part of NBC’s “The Wiz Live!,” she’s got that Broadway bug.
In a recent interview, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul said she would “definitely want to see the Mary J. Blige story – or just one of the album cycles – on Broadway.”
That story is one of abuse, abandonment, poverty, alcohol and drugs, bad reputation, drama, love gone wrong and self-hate. Yet, that story also is about ghetto fabulousness, courage, survival and the pursuit of happiness and love. Evilene’s “Don’t Bring Me No Bad News” is an apropos composition for the woman whose story is birthed in pain and struggle. The jazz musician’s daughter – who started singing in a Pentecostal church before being molded by then 21-year-old Uptown Records A&R exec Sean “Puffy” Combs – said she will “definitely bring some Mary J. Blige to the song.”
Having physical copies of nearly all her studio albums and damn-near front row seats for one of her concerts, this MJB fan knows exactly the meaning of such a statement. She is her music. She brings rawness, realness, truthfulness. “When you hear Mary’s music you feel as if you are experiencing what she is singing about,” said one-time Vibe editor Emil Wilbekin about the artist who described her early self as a thug.
Should a Broadway musical surface about Mary, I would most definitely want my butt in a seat. I’m willing to go where Mary goes; she’s shown and proved with 11 studio albums (most multi-platinum), more than 150 guest appearances on other albums, nine Grammy Awards and the Time 100 list for 2007 as one of music’s most influential individuals.
But to be honest, I’m not feeling it. One, I don’t want anybody but Mary singing her songs. Two, I don’t believe the musical would be fully appreciated on The Great White Way – despite the strides that have come with Hamilton: The Musical as Blige acknowledged its groundbreaking reach of hip hop music. Three, I think better media are available to share her story: an autobiography; a children’s book; a touring motivational event (a la Oprah); even a Lifetime movie.
In fact, Blige launched “Real Talk” Nov. 8 on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio. It was the urging of Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records (of which Blige was associated for five of her albums) and Beats Electronics that prompted her to embark on the venture. In a Huffington Post interview, the 44-year-old singer and actor – who thought she wouldn’t make it to see age 27 – said: “So many people out there are hurting, and there are so many people out there that need to be reached, and there are so many people I wish I could give a word of encouragement to.”
REAL TALK with Mary J. Blige broadcasting now on Beats 1. Millions of songs. Zero ads. No commitment. http://apple.co/Trial Explore Beats 1 for free: http://apple.co/B1 About Beats 1: Worldwide. Always on. Listen for free on Apple Music or on demand with a subscription.
REAL TALK with Mary J. Blige is now broadcasting on Beats 1. Millions of songs. Zero ads. No commitment. http://apple.co/Trial Explore Beats 1 for free: http://apple.co/B1 About Beats 1: Worldwide. Always on. Listen for free on Apple Music or on demand with a subscription.
“Real Talk,” which airs biweekly Sundays at 2 p.m. via iTunes, is a perfect avenue for Blige to engage with her fans and journey through her evolution from self-hate to self-love. That works for me.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say a Broadway musical is as bad an idea as that Burger King Crispy Chicken commercial (because nothing can be as bad as that, really). But, real talk? If you’re gonna bring me something / bring me something I can use / But don’t you bring me no… Broadway musical.
Blige, who wrapped her current tour Nov. 15 and was nominated for Favorite Female Artist by The American Music Awards, performed alongside Queen Latifah, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, Stephanie Mills, Common and Shanice Williams for NBC’s “The Wiz Live!”
Dreamgirls + Drake = #DREAMY4DRAKE Starring B. Slade & More!
Broadway YouTuber Michael Korte is back with #DREAMY4DRAKE a brilliantly soulful mashup of songs from Dreamgirls mashed with Drake’s top hits. The video is the newest in his mashup series which futures previous creations #HAM4BEY, #GAGA4RENT & #PURPLE4PRINCE.
These arrangements are sick and include one of the sickest versions of Family ever & B. Slade singing a creative “And I Am Telling You.’ You have to watch the entire video all the way thru. The video features over 55 Drake songs and everyone’s favorite’s from Broadway’s Dreamgirls!
The video features vocalists B.Slade, Danielle Withers, Chrystian Lehr, Mariah Maxwell, Lanita Smith & Mark Joseph
#DREAMY4DRAKE was arranged by Jared Jenkins and filmed by Baxter Stapleton.
New Songs For A New World Cast Album Released with Mykal Kilgore, Shoshana Bean, & More
There’s “A new world louder every moment,” and it’s the new Songs for a New World cast recording! On, January 25, 2019, Ghostlight Records released the new album featuring the cast from its 2018 Encores! Off-Center presentation.
If you had the chance to preorder the record you were able to have access to an immediate download of “King of the World” and “Surabaya-Santa” by Mykal Kilgore and Shoshana Bean respectively.
The cast recording features Solea Pfeifer, Colin Donnell, Shoshana Bean, and Mykal Kilgore singing all the classics you love from the original Off-Broadway cast recording. Songs for a New World received a digital and two-disc CD set release, and it came right on time.
The first produced work by Jason Robert Brown being re-recorded with new orchestrations and new voices is not to be slept on. The Encores! production was directed by Kate Whoriskey with music direction by Tom Murray and choreography by Rennie Harris.
Watch the video of Mykal Kilgore in the studio recording the fan favorite “King of the World” above and get into the entire recording via iTunes below.