On Thursday April 16, Mary J. Blige premiered her documentary Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The film takes viewers on a journey showing Blige’s experience recording her 12th studio album, ‘The London Sessions’. Blige’s scenes are all work— no personal moments of her chilling in her flat or shopping for insanely priced goodies at Harrods. She’s seen hard-at-work with producers and songwriters in the studio sparkled with stunning stills of Blige styling on em’ in a Nike sweatshirt and her signature sunnies. She’s humbled, smiling, laughing and loving the freedom she feels getting back to the basics of soul—the opportunity the London music scene seemingly affords its artists and music lovers, and why Mary is there in the first place on principal.

Appearances by Sam Smith, Emeli Sande, Disclosure, the album’s producer Rodney Jerkins and her husband Kendu Isaacs round out celebrity cameos in the film. There’s a touching moment when Blige meets with Mitchell Winehouse, father of the late Amy Winehouse in a local pub. She’s brought to tears while being driven home after recalling how her life once mirrored Winehouse’s ruin and ultimate self-demise after a drug binge. The moment is equally if not more sobering for viewers watching. You’ll instantly say to yourself: Damn. Mary almost didn’t make it to 44.

A sonic trip across the pond, the moment is moody, nostalgic and reveals a self-actualized, ripened, middle-aged female artist at her most excellent. Blige’s thrill with the material is evident in the force in her vocals, her work-ethic—Mary recorded two to three songs per session—and her excitement to be recording in London for the first time. Also if you could believe it, it’s a first for Mary recording with live instrumentation.

After the film ends, the projection screen lifts and there stood our girl. Mary gave the audience a surprise performance with some of her standout singles on the album, ‘Therapy’ and ‘Whole Damn Year’. She capped it off belting out the classics we desperately longed to hear ‘No Drama’—it was as if she performed the song for the first time, all church and feels for everyone—and ‘Family Affair’.

You can see a trailer above. No word on a national release. Although it’s likely the doc will receive a similar post-TFF treatment like NasIllmatic doc—released in select theaters and a cable premiere on Showtime or HBO.

Geneva S. Thomas

Geneva S. Thomas

Geneva is the founder of Jawbreaker, which she plans on turning into an intergalactic all-girl army that will someday storm the streets of the world in studded bras and Tom Ford boots. She recently took up archery and collects more books than shoes.

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