In advance of the Valentine’s Day concert in Baton Rouge, the singer and Oscar-nominated actress answered questions for The Advocate.
Is a Valentine’s Day concert a special occasion for you?
It’s a special occasion because you get to see love on that day. And love is the answer for the world we are living in right now.
Congratulations for your two Oscar nominations for “Mudbound.” One nomination is for your performance as Florence Jackson, the Jackson family matriarch. The other nomination is for your original song, “Mighty River.” How did you react when you first learned about the nominations?
I was totally surprised and grateful at the same time. I cried, I screamed. I was so ecstatic in that moment.
“Mudbound” is so beautifully written and writer-director Dee Rees is a major talent. Why did you sign on to play Florence Jackson?
I loved the script. I saw what the overall message in the film, which is love is the silver lining.
In “Mudbound,” New Orleans native Jason Mitchell plays your character Florence’s son, Ronsel. What was acting with him like?
It was great. I saw Jason in “Straight Outta Compton,” which he was amazing in. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since.
Do you think your role in “Mudbound” and your latest album, “Strength of a Woman,” complement each other?
Florence shows that she’s a strong woman. And “Strength of a Woman” is all about being a strong woman through your trials. So, yes, the movie and the album go hand in hand.
“Strength of a Woman,” your 14th studio album, debuted high in the charts. You co-wrote nearly every song. How do you think the album ranks in your catalog?
It’s hard to for me to rank albums. I look at them like my babies. Parents don’t tell anyone who their favorite child is.
“Thick of It” and “U+Me” made big chart impacts. What sort of feedback have you gotten from fans about the songs on “Strength of a Woman”?
I got a lot of feedback. The fans love “Telling the Truth,” "Hello Father," and the “Love Yourself” video with ASAP Rocky.
Is there any conflict between singing and acting for you, as far as the time and energy needed to pursue two careers?
There is actually no conflict at all. When I am not acting, I am singing. And when I am not singing, I am acting. It’s a great balance.
Which do you love more, singing or acting?
It is impossible to pick one over the other. I am grateful I’m doing both.
MARY J. BLIGE/ANTHONY HAMILTON
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Raising Cane’s River Center Arena, 275 S. River Road, Baton Rouge