Singer Mary J. Blige has left a legacy of undeniable music on the urban community to last a lifetime. Arguably the top R&B singer the music game has witnessed over the last twenty years, Mary is no longer considered just an artist. The now 40 year old singer and mini mogul has expanded her horizons adding philanthropy to her long running successful resume.
Kicking off the annual Essence Music Festival taking place in New Orleans, MJB was honored by McDonalds as part of the corporations 8th annual 365 Black Awards that highlights entrepreneurs for their various efforts giving back to the community on a yearly basis. Blige was specifically recognized for work on her FAWN project (For The Advancement of Women Now) that helps assist under privileged women across the states. Recently we caught up with Mary where she expounded on the origins of the charity and the joy of being tapped as one of McDonalds 365 notable African Americans.
"My brand is being built with my friend, my partner Steve Stoute" Blige told MTV just before being honored. "We're doing amazing things. We are here for FAWN today. We're being honored by McDonalds because of our work with philanthropy. FAWN was just a baby, it was born just two years ago. And Steve came to me and said 'what are you most passionate about?' and the very first thing that jumped out of my mouth was saving the lives of women. "
Brand manager Steve Stoute was also on hand to watch his friend and business partner Mary J. Blige receive top honors during the prestigious event.
"It's just important to know that you can accomplish many different things" says Stoute. "We're all successful at other endeavors that we have. But to put it in philanthropy and get acknowledged at this level, to be honored at Essence where there's hundreds of thousands of African American women who come down here every year to get enriched with music and also their soul is great at speaking engagements by leaders who are educate you on financial and religion and a bunch of other hot topics that should be addressed, it all happens during this weekend. And to be acknowledged as somebody who contributes to lives of these women during this weekend, it's an honor."
During her acceptance speech Blige herself recognized fellow honorees that included Radio One head Cathy Hughes, actor Ruby Dee and NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous.
"I am so humbled and so honored, I don't have words to express how appreciative I am to be in a room full of entrepreneurs."