Steven J. Horowitz, BILLBOARD
LONDON (Billboard) — For her thirteenth studio album The London Sessions, Mary J. Blige made a hard left. Bored with the slog of the recording process and facing creative redundancy, the R&B veteran took a different approach for the LP, spending 10 days in London to work with hitmakers including Sam Smith, Disclosure, Naughty Boy, Emeli Sandé and a handful of others.
The resulting LP is arresting, stirring a mix of ‘90s house, downbeat R&B and contemporary dance. While recording the project, the 45-year-old Bronx native took the suggestion of the execs at her new label, Capitol Records, to capture the process for a full-length documentary. On Thursday (April 16), the Tribeca Film Festival debuted the 45-minute feature at New York’s Beacon Theatre, giving the packed house an intimate look at how the album was shaped followed by a rousing performance from Blige running through tracks from Sessions as well as past hits “No More Drama,” “One” and “Family Affair.”
The next morning, Blige sat down with Billboard at New York’s Smyth hotel to discuss the documentary and what it was like to give yet another piece of herself to her fans.