[artist id="854"]Mary J. Blige[/artist] released Stronger With Each Tear right before Christmas, and her devoted fanbase rewarded her with hefty album sales of more than 330,000 the first week. The people trust that in addition to entertaining, Mary will give them music to help them grow.
"You gotta come from an honest place of where you are," the singer said about the LP's name. "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger in life. I don't care if you're doing great; you're gonna always have peaks and valleys. I hit a valley. And in that valley, I became stronger, because it didn't kill me. Now I'm here again, and I'm stronger. In that strength, I found that it's OK to be vulnerable. It's OK to need someone. It's OK to say, 'I don't need you.' That's what 'stronger' means. Do not box yourself in. Be free and uninhibited. That's what 'stronger' is about."
Mary's album capped off a stellar year of R&B from a wide range of stars, such as Alicia Keys, Trey Songz, Maxwell and Whitney Houston.
"The return of R&B is the best thing that could've happened in the universe," Blige testified. "It's so much healing power in it. From the time we were kids and we were listening to Stevie Wonder songs [from] In the Key of Life. From the point when we were kids to when we were grown-ups, there are so many songs that we can say, 'Oh, it saved my life. It helped me here, it helped me there.' People need lyrics and the warmth in live instruments and music to help them through their day. You can't just electronic everything. I understand people being frustrated a little bit with so much Auto-Tune, so much this. I get that.
"Music is everything," she continued. "It has helped us in our lives. It has given us a story. Every time you think of a song, automatically you can remember where you were and what you were doing. Maxwell's album is insane. We need Whitney's album. Whitney's album is insane. We need that energy from Whitney. We need Whitney to tell us her story. How did you get out of that? That's what happened in R&B forever: People have told a story that helped you out of something."