The Source Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with the legendary Mary J. Blige, to discuss her new Christmas album “A Mary Christmas,” while she was promoting her new film Fox Searchlight’s “Black Nativity,” which hits theaters November 27.
“A Mary Christmas” is the eleventh studio album and first Christmas album by Mary J. Blige. It is in stores now.
How did your Christmas album come about?
Mary J. Blige: I did a song with Andrea Bocelli before and David Foster produced that album. I did a song with Rod Stewart and David foster produced that. And a long time ago I did a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” and then I did my own Christmas song. So I’ve been wanting to do some Christmas music for a while. So when David asked me did I want to do a full Christmas album with him, I said absolutely. And that’s how that came about.
When did you start working on the Christmas album? What was the process like?
Mary J. Blige: I actually started working on it in March so it was warming up, but there is something about Christmas music that just takes you back to your childhood memories, and just whatever your life is and it was easy to just channel all of that stuff.
Now I want to talk about some of the cool features on your album!
Can you tell us how you got The Clark Sisters on your album and what it was like to working with them on “The First Noel.”
Mary J Blige: Well I listened to the Clark Sisters just to work out, and for months something was in me saying, ‘You got to sing with them on something,’ and this was before the Christmas album. And then I got asked to do the Christmas album and I was like this where I’m gonna get them. When I spoke to them on the phone they were yelling and screaming, “Mary we love you, we didn’t know that our music ministered to you like this.” I was shocked that they didn’t know I was a fan. They were just so humble and it was very refreshing just beautiful.
You did a duet with Jessie J. on the album for “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Why did you choose Jessie J.?
Mary J. Blige: I chose Jessie because she is a strong vocalist and she is pretty strong herself, and so I thought the connection would be great.
You also did a duet with Mark Anthony there is a beautiful Spanish song on there called “Noche De Paz.” Can you tell me about that song?
Mary J. Blige: I love Mark Anthony he just makes me happy when I see him. He’s such good people! He’s such a good person. I didn’t get a chance to work with him in the studio, but I know he was probably a lot of fun that day.
Speak about working with Barbra Streisand on “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
Mary J. Blige: That’s amazing, I’m speechless on that one. We didn’t work together again, because our schedules just don’t permit these things, but that was a blessing!
What do you admire about David Foster as a producer and musician?
Mary J. Blige: What I admire about David is that he is able to give pop artists, R&B artists any kind of artist whatever it is that they are in their world. He’s able to collaborate with you to give you that without taking away from you. He’ll meet you where you’re at, that’s what I love about him.
Do you have any favorite holiday traditions?
Mary: I mean the only thing if you consider it a tradition is putting up the Christmas tree up every year, and that’s a fun time, I mean everyone’s around whoever you decide you want around and there’s food and there’s music, it’s a project, it’s fun.
Besides your Holiday album, have you started working on another solo album?
Mary: My head is there, but we’re not there yet!
A Mary Christmas Tracklisting
1. “Little Drummer Boy”
2. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
3. “My Favorite Things”
4. “This Christmas”
5. “The Christmas Song”
6. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
7. “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Duet with Barbra Streisand
8. “Winter Wonderland”
9. “Do You Hear What I Hear” – Duet with Jessie J
10. “Petit Papa Noel”
11. “The First Noel” – Duet with The Clark Sisters
12. “Noche de Paz” – Duet with Marc Anthony
In Part II of our interview with Mary J. Blige, we will discuss her new film “Black Nativity.” Stay tuned!