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‘They Tried to Change Me’: Mary J. Blige Reveals She Was Sent to Etiquette School at the Beginning of Her Career

Mary J. Blige is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her sophomore album “My Life” with a documentary titled “Mary J. Blige’s My Life.” The film gives fans a never before seen inside look into her life, including her childhood traumas, alcohol and drug abuse, and some of the mental health challenges she had to endure, which led to her successful record. 

While on a press run for the doc, the “Real Love” songstress revealed other aspects of her career including, being told she didn’t fit the image of a celebrity and how she had to attend etiquette classes to polish her image. 

Mary J. Blige attends the “Mary J Blige’s My Life” New York Premiere at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on June 23, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/WireImage)

“They tried to change me earlier in my career. They did send me to etiquette school and all types of stuff, but I just couldn’t feel it because I didn’t feel like myself,” she told Page Six. However, the 50-year-old said she didn’t challenge the request. “I just did it because that is just who I was — and I wasn’t standing upright. I had to grow into these gowns and grow into walking with my back up straight,” she added.  

Blige premiered her story on Wednesday, June 23, at the Rose Theater at New York’s Lincoln Center, where she expounded on her battles with depression and thoughts of suicide and how music essentially saved her life. 

“Music was a vessel God used to save my life,” she explained. “If I did not have music … I probably wouldn’t be here.” She said growing up in Yonkers, New York, “There were so many things that happened. … My mom struggling to raise us as a single mother. My dad not being around as a little kid, letting us struggle in a place that was terrible. I love him and respect him now, but I was angry for years about it.”

Her record “My Life” played a critical role in her life and allowed her to see that there were other outlets she could use to air out frustrations and pain, telling Variety, “I didn’t know what I was doing.” She added, “I was singing because I loved it. I was writing because it just felt good to me. And I had people around me who were letting me know that I could do this. ‘My Life’ let me know that I could set all my pain in wax.”

“Mary J. Blige’s My Life” was executive produced by the two-time Oscar nominee and her longtime friend and collaborator Sean “Diddy” Combs. The film began streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday, June 25. 

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