Queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige’s alimony battle inspires “strength of a woman” album and festival

Turning pain into power: The story behind Mary J. Blige’s iconic album. Discover how Mary J. Blige turned her divorce alimony battle into an empowering album and festival. Explore the emotional journey behind “Strength of a Woman” and its impact on women worldwide.
Gospel Brunch Hosted By Mary J. Blige
Gospel Brunch Hosted By Mary J. Blige / Johnny Nunez/GettyImages

When life throws lemons at you, some people make lemonade. But for Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, those lemons became the driving force behind her powerful album, Strength of a Woman. In this exclusive behind-the-scenes look, we delve into the emotional journey that led to the creation of this iconic music and the birth of the Strength of a Woman Festival & Summit.

The alimony battle

Mary J. Blige’s divorce from her former manager, Kendu Isaacs, was far from amicable. As part of the divorce settlement, she found herself paying alimony—a daily reminder of her failed marriage. But instead of wallowing in despair, she channeled her frustration into her art.

The birth of strength of a woman

Blige’s 2017 LP, “Strength of a Woman,” wasn’t just an album; it was her battle cry. Each track echoed her resilience, vulnerability, and determination. The title itself spoke volumes—she was determined to find strength even in her darkest moments.

Empowering women through music

The album resonated with women worldwide. Blige’s soulful voice carried messages of self-love, healing, and empowerment. Songs like “Thick of It” and “Set Me Free” became anthems for those navigating their own storms. Blige’s raw honesty connected with listeners, reminding them that they, too, could rise above adversity.

The Strength of a Woman festival & summit:

But Blige didn’t stop there. She transformed her pain into a movement. The Strength of a Woman Festival & Summit was born—an annual celebration of resilience, sisterhood, and empowerment. Held in New York City, the festival brings together women from all walks of life. From music performances to panel discussions, it’s a safe space for healing and growth.

Blige, a Yonkers native, felt compelled to bring the festival home. New York needed this—a hug for its culture. The city where she grew up, surrounded by strong women who faced trials and triumphs, was the perfect backdrop. And the festival has flourished, drawing attendees from around the globe.

As if her impact wasn’t already immense, Mary J. Blige was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Her journey from alimony payments to global empowerment is a testament to her strength and resilience.

Mary J. Blige’s alimony battle may have “pissed her off,” but it also ignited a fire within her. “Strength of a Woman” isn’t just an album—it’s a movement. And as the festival continues to grow, Blige’s legacy as a beacon of strength shines brighter than ever.