Mary J. Blige: The Billboard Cover Story and Video
Anthony Mandler

Mary J. Blige Returns With Her Ninth Studio Album And Branches Out Into Movies, Branding And Charity Work

After almost 20 years in music, what continues to drive you?

Honestly, it goes back to my fans. I have a responsibility to them and they let me know that it's a responsibility. I read things all the time from them like, "Please keep doing what you doing." Or "I'm listening to 'Growing Pains' right now and it's getting me through my day." It's just the things people say that connect me with their lives . . . that keeps me going.

All this could be gone today or tomorrow if I were to act like I did it all by myself. It's God first and then my fans. They help me do what I'm doing; they're the reason why I am where I am. And I always acknowledge them in that. I've never been the type of person to become full of myself. I've never known how to do that because when we were growing up, if you even showed out a little, someone would try to take you out. So I guess the balance in that is what it taught me: to stay humble and not count all your chickens before they hatch. To just stay on a level where people can relate to you and you can relate to them.