Mary J. Blige is an icon who represents the political consciousness of hip hop and the historical promise of soul. She is an everywoman, celebrated by Oprah Winfrey and beloved by pop music fans of all ages and races. Blige has sold over fifty million albums, won numerous Grammys, and even played at multiple White House events, as well as the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Displaying astonishing range and versatility, she has recorded everything from Broadway standards to Led Zeppelin anthems and worked with some of popular music’s greatest artists—Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Sting, U2, and Beyoncé, among them.
Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige tells the story of one of the most important artists in pop music history. Danny Alexander follows the whole arc of Blige’s career, from her first album, which heralded the birth of “hip hop soul,” to her critically praised 2014 album, The London Sessions. He highlights the fact that Blige was part of the historically unprecedented movement of black women onto pop radio and explores how she and other women took control of their careers and used their music to give voice to women’s (and men’s) everyday struggles and dreams. This book adds immensely to the story of both black women artists and artists rooted in hip hop and pays tribute to a musician who, by expanding her reach and asking tough questions about how music can and should evolve, has proven herself an artistic visionary.
DANNY ALEXANDEROverland Park, KansasBeginning his career about the same time Mary J. Blige signed her first record deal, music journalist Danny Alexander has worked as an associate editor for Dave Marsh’s music newsletter Rock & Rap Confidential and co
"Danny Alexander’s soulful, beautifully written book unravels the mystery of how a struggling young woman from Yonkers earned a place beside Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Aretha Franklin in the pantheon of African American song. Necessary reading for anyone interested in African American music, American culture, or the challenge of being human in a cold and heartless world."
~Craig Werner, author of A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America
"I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Real Love, No Drama recognizes Mary J. Blige as one of this era’s crucial artists and places her at the center of a profound story about race, gender, class, and American life in recent decades. An expert listener and writer, Danny Alexander has written a sophisticated and deeply soulful book that takes the music, its makers, and its audiences seriously. This is essential reading."
~Charles L. Hughes, author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South
"Real Love, No Drama is a marvelous telling of Mary J. Blige’s story, as well as a reflection of the many years Danny Alexander has spent studying, analyzing, and, above all, enjoying pop music made by female performers. To trace its evolution through Salt’n’Pepa to Mary J. Blige is a journey not many have had the instinct—or the acuity about race, in particular—to take. This book shows us the glory and the problems associated with living, for the first time in memory, in a pop world where women are the dominant voices."
~Dave Marsh, host of Sirius XM’s Kick Out the Jams and author of The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made
1. The Artist of a Generation
2. The Slow Bomb
3. Ladies, Ladies, It Is Our Turn
5. What’s the 411?
6. Changes I’ve Been Going Through
7. Hip Hop a Go-Go
8. My Life
9. Natural Woman
10. Share My World
11. On the Road with MJB: Alyson Williams
12. The Tour
13. Sisters in the Studio: Channette and Channoah Higgens
14. Mary, the Album
15. No More Drama
16. Love & Life
17. Live from Los Angeles
18. Message in Our Music
19. The Breakthrough
20. Growing Pains
21. Stronger with Each Tear
22. Hard Times Come Again No More
23. My Life II . . . The Journey Continues (Act 1)
24. A Mary Christmas
25. Think Like a Man Too
26. The London Sessions
27. Being with You
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