Singer Mary J. Blige arrives at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills
*The Associated Press is reporting that Mary J. Blige will write a song for a new documentary focusing on sexual assault in the U.S. military.
The R&B singer was at the Sundance Film Festival Friday for the premiere of “The Invisible War,” in which her song “Need Someone” already is heard over the closing credits. Producer Amy Ziering said that Blige, 41, would contribute an original song for the movie, which looks at the experiences of men and women who are attacked by their military colleagues and the difficulty of prosecuting such crimes. [Scroll down to watch the film's Sundance trailer.]
The song will follow up her original ditty for DreamWorks’ “The Help,” which features her singing “The Living Proof,” a Golden Globe nominee this year for best original song.
Mary J. Blige from the video for "The Living Proof"
*Mary J. Blige’s song “The Living Proof” from the film “The Help” is one of 39 tunes that made the shortlist for an Academy Award, and now moves on to the next elimination round. [Scroll down for the video.]
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will screen clips featuring each song in random order for voting members of the Music Branch on Jan. 5. Members will determine the nominees by an averaged point system of voting.
A maximum of two songs may be nominated from any one film.
The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced Jan. 24.
The 39 shortlisted songs are, in alphabetical order:
“The World I Knew” from “African Cats”
“Lay Your Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs”
“Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger”
“Collision of Worlds” from “Cars 2″
“Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu” from “DAM999″
“DAM999 Theme Song” from “DAM999″
“Mujhe Chod Ke” from “DAM999″
“Rainbird” from “Dirty Girl”
“Keep On Walking” from “The First Grader”
“Where the River Goes” from “Footloose”
“Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
“Love Builds a Garden” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
“Bridge of Light” from “Happy Feet Two”
“The Mighty Sven” from “Happy Feet Two”
“Never Be Daunted” from “happythankyoumoreplease”
“Hell and Back” from “Hell and Back Again”
“The Living Proof” from “The Help”
“Coeur Volant” from “Hugo”
“It’s How We Play” from “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
“When the Heart Dies” from “In the Land of Blood and Honey”
“Ja Nao Estar” from “José and Pilar”
“The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher”
“Life’s a Happy Song” from “The Muppets”
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
“Pictures in My Head” from “The Muppets”
“Summer Song” from “The Music Never Stopped”
“Imaginary Friends” from “Olive”
“Sparkling Day” from “One Day”
“Taking You with Me” from “Our Idiot Brother”
“The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” from “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”
“Hot Wings” from “Rio”
“Let Me Take You to Rio” from “Rio”
“Real in Rio” from “Rio”
“Shelter” from “Take Shelter”
“Gathering Stories” from “We Bought a Zoo”
“Pop” from “White Irish Drinkers”
“Think You Can Wait” from “Win Win”
“The Backson Song” from “Winnie the Pooh”
“So Long” from “Winnie the Pooh”
*In addition to her song “The Living Proof” on the soundtrack for “The Help,” Mary J. Blige has two music-related film roles in the works, including one that will be her first ever starring role.
Due in 2012, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul stars opposite Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand in the ensemble adaptation of Broadway musical “Rock of Ages,” which is anchored by a soundtrack of classic rock hits from the 1980s including Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Asia.
“I don’t start shooting until July 25th, but we did the table reading and it’s good,” Blige told us during interviews for “The Help” in Beverly Hills. “I play a gentleman’s club owner, Justice Charlier. She’s very beautiful, she’s super fly from the 80s and she is the light in a dark place.”
As previously reported, Blige is also preparing to play Nina Simone in MTV Films’ forthcoming biopic about the legendary artist. Because of her “Rock of Ages’ schedule, shooting on the film was pushed back to October, but in the bonus audio below, Blige says she’s been doing exhaustive research on Simone, and shares how she personally relates to the incomparable singer.
Mary J. Blige poses in the press room at the BET Awards '11 held at the Shrine Auditorium on June 26, 2011 in Los Angeles
*Mary J. Blige said she had heard of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling book “The Help,” but had never actually read it before she was asked to provide a song for its film adaptation.
Set in civil rights era Mississippi, the story follows a group of maids who risk their livelihood just to stand in their own truth. The women, two of whom are played by Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, are asked to share their true experiences working for white families – all for a book authored by one of the more socially-progressive white women in town, played by Emma Stone.
Blige, who wrote “The Living Proof” for the soundtrack after watching a screening of the film [scroll down to listen], says her lyrics were inspired by the journey of these three very different women.
“The inspiration came from when I saw just how all of the women through the film were just holding each other together no matter how bad it got,” she said during interviews for the film in New York. “First they didn’t want to help write the book. All of the maids were like, ‘I don’t wanna do it.’ And then one of them got in trouble, or got set up and was sent to prison, and then they all came together and was like, ‘We’re gonna do it.’
“But Aibileen was the one who inspired me the most,” Blige said of Davis’ character, “because she was the one who had the voice first.”
Viola Davis (L) and Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
With nine Grammys on the mantle and her 10th studio album, “My Life II: The Journey Continues,” due Oct. 4, it would appear that Blige has not only found her own voice, but has become the voice of a generation. However, the South Yonkers-bred singer admits she still finds it difficult to overcome some of the self-esteem issues that took root during her childhood.
“It’s not as hard as it used to be, but it gets hard sometimes,” said Blige, 40. “You wish that your mom didn’t work so much so that she could give you the parental guidance that you needed, you know? You wish that your dad didn’t walk out on you so he could tell you that you were beautiful, and so you wouldn’t have to look for some man to tell you that you were beautiful, or have low self-esteem. So now, I’m constantly working on myself every day to believe that, which I’m believing. I’m beginning to believe it.”
Blige says she gets tons of positive reinforcement from her husband, family and close friends, as well as an overwhelming amount of unconditional love from her fan base. In the bonus audio below, Blige recalls how two fans in particular continue to serve as the biggest reminder of her musical gift.
*Mary J. Blige has written and recorded an original song for the soundtrack of DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media’s “The Help,” a film based on the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name, opening in theaters August 12, 2011.
“The Help” soundtrack – music from the Motion picture, will feature the original song from Mary J Blige called “The Living Proof.” The soundtrack, from Interscope Records, will be available Tuesday, July 26 at select Starbucks locations.
The song, “The Living Proof,” was written and recorded by Blige especially for “The Help” after she saw a screening of the film, which takes place in 1960s-era Mississippi and chronicles the journey of three very different women who come together and embark on a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk.
“The beautiful thing about these women is that they were very smart,” says Blige. “They chose to walk in love and forgiveness.”
“The film really celebrates the courage to inspire change … to speak to so many women with this song means a lot to me” says Blige. “I wanted to be involved with this film, because I think we need to encourage each other more, we are here to tell a story.”
Blige, a 9-time Grammy winner, who’s sold over 50 million albums worldwide, will release her next album “My Life Too … The Journey Continues” on Sept 20.