*(Hollywood, CA) — Mary J. Blige, the longtime reigning queen of hip hop soul and nine- time Grammy winner had another prestigious accolade added to her resume on Thursday in Hollywood. She was enshrined with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A large contingency of Bligeʼs family and friends gathered at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard under sunshine and blue skies to watch a dream come true for the native of Yonkers, NY who was raised in The Bronx.
The event was delayed over twenty minutes waiting on Sean Puffy Combs who was a presenting speaker along with André Harrell, the Uptown Records executive who gave Blige her first record deal. Harrell spoke of how proud he is of Blige.
Meanwhile, Combs paid homage to Bligeʼs mother, Cora, who was present. “One of the main reasons Mary is here is her mother Cora. This day is also about family,” he said. Then he talked about those early years when he and Mary J imagined their lives as stars. “I used to pick Mary up in the projects and drive on the highways of New York and just dream. We wanted to shake up the world,” the Bad Boys Records founder told the crowd. Between the two of them, they did more than that. They have become music legends. Before concluding his presentation, Combs lead the gathering in singing Happy Birthday to Blige as it was her forty-seventh birthday.
“Iʼm so grateful for this time, (of getting a star) but Iʼve earned it probably twenty times,” Blige said as the audience erupted with applause. “I say that not because of arrogance,” she said, but because of all that she has endured to achieve this feat including her current nasty divorce with her former husband.
“I have to give a really big thanks to my fans because without you, this isnʼt possible,” she said. “I wrote you all a letter with “My Life,” her incredible CD, “and you all wrote me back with your support.”
Blige went a bit long with her speech but she wanted to acknowledge a lot of people who were instrumental in her life and music career which has sold over 75 million records. At one point, she wept, as she was overcome with emotions telling the stories of how she made it over. She spoke of days not wanting to live because the burdens she carried were too much, but she persevered and is now sharing such a milestone with people who care about her, personally and professionally.
The event ended with the unveiling of her star, a proud moment for Blige, her family, friends and fans. BET executive Debra Lee was among those present, “It was important for me to be here because I love Mary J. Blige. Sheʼs been a supporter of BET and we try to be a supporter of hers. I consider her a great friend. This is such an honor for her. So, it was an honor for me to be here today.” Also spotted in the crowd was music producer Jimmy Jam and R&B singer, Tyrese Gibson.
Fans from various parts of the nation, including Oakland, California and Chicago, Illinois came specifically to support Blige, their favorite singer, as she shared her world in the California sunshine.
Story and Pictures By Dr. Eric J. Chambers