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The Power of Mary J. Blige’s Halftime Performance

On Superbowl Sunday, I couldn’t care less about the football, the snacks or the general fanfare throughout L.A. My focus lay solely on the much anticipated Halftime Show, and more specifically, the "Queen of Hip Hop Soul": Mary J. Blige. 

When Mary hit the stage in her silver-mirrored, leopard print boots, she did not disappoint. Her performance was pure perfection. I’d never seen an artist display her emotional range in such a short set. I sat in total awe as Mary hyped up the crowd with “Family Affair” and then seamlessly transitioned to a heartfelt rendition of “No More Drama.”

Super Bowl Football GIF by NFL - Find & Share on GIPHY
NFL via GIPHY

As the days go by, I’ve come to appreciate Mary’s segment of the Halftime Show more and more. Not only was she the only woman in the iconic concert lineup, but she is a Black woman who is over 50 years old. To see her thrive under the most intense national spotlight, and draw much-needed attention to Black women’s contributions to the music industry was refreshing and inspirational. 

For anyone who just discovered her music through the Superbowl performance, here’s the 411 (pun intended) on the woman who has shaped so much of our current music landscape. 

Mary J Blige GIF by BET Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY
BET Awards via GIPHY

As detailed in last year’s documentary Mary J. Blige’s My Life, Mary exploded onto the scene in 1992 with her hit album What’s the 411?. With her following albums like My Life, Mary and No More Drama she carved out a space in the industry for female R&B. She was one of the first artists to combine her powerhouse vocals with hip hop beats and experiment with sampling in the manner so common on the radio these days. As a result of her trailblazing, over the past 30 years, she has had over 40 singles in the Billboard Hot 100, won nine Grammys, four AMAs, and was nominated for multiple Golden Globe and Academy Awards

In all of her creative endeavors, from her genre-defining albums to acting roles, Mary always prioritizes accurately expressing the lived experiences of Black women. She uses her lyricism to tell stories of the hardships she has faced due to racism, classism, domestic abuse and the stereotypes forced on Black women. “No More Drama,” which she performed at the Halftime Show, touched on these themes with lines about leaving pain and tears in her past to move forward with strength and autonomy.

Mary J Blige Oscars Red Carpet GIF by E! - Find & Share on GIPHY
eonline via GIPHY

I’m so excited that this important artist is currently getting the extra attention that she deserves. Let’s all celebrate Mary for her showstopping Superbowl performance, and more importantly, go further and recognize the Black women like her who have built the music industry. If you haven’t already, I urge you all to immediately go to your Spotify accounts and start blasting some of her songs. Whether you want to keep it old school with hits like “Be Without You” or stream her brand new album Good Morning Gorgeous, you should run, not walk, to show this legend your support.

Kate is a San Francisco native and third-year English major at UCLA. When she's not writing articles for Her Campus at UCLA, she enjoys getting lost in a good book and experimenting with vegan recipes.
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