Get ready, Baton Rouge, a queen is coming to town.
The Valentine's Day concert comes right after another accomplishment for the Grammy-winning, platinum-selling artist. Blige just received two Oscar nominations — for best original song and best supporting actress — for her work in the acclaimed Louisiana-filmed drama "Mudbound."
In “Mudbound,” Blige plays Florence Jackson, the resilient matriarch of a struggling sharecropper family in 1940s-era Mississippi. Following the Oscar nominations announcement, the actress-singer told The Associated Press that she spent the morning close to tears.
“This is a new one, the actress nominee,” she said. “This is really special.”
Of course, her nomination for the gospel song “Mighty River” is special, too.
“I love to sing,” Blige said. “That’s something I’ve been doing for a very long time that’s special to me, and the Oscars recognized it. So, it’s all special.”
Blige, 48, has shown how special she is time and time again. The New York City native did so despite many impediments, beginning in her childhood. Her jazz musician father left the family when she was 4. After spending her early childhood in Savannah, Georgia, Blige, her mother and older sister returned to New York, where they lived in the Schlobohm Housing Projects.
At home, Blige’s mother, Cora, played records by soul and rhythm and blues stars like Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle. The music made a big impression on Blige. Friends and family soon recognized her singing talent.
When Blige was 17, she made a karaoke machine recording of Anita Baker’s “Caught Up in the Rapture” at a mall in White Plains. Blige’s stepfather forwarded the tape to Andre Harrell, CEO of Uptown Records. In 1989, Harrell signed Blige to a recording contract. She was the label’s youngest artist and first female signee.
Working with executive producer Sean “Diddy” Combs, Blige later melded her classic soul influences with modern hip-hop. The singer’s album debut, 1992’s “What’s the 411?” yielded several hits.
Blige’s success continued with her 1994 follow-up, “My Life,” an autobiographical project featuring more of Combs’ production work. Since then, she’s sold 75 million albums worldwide.
Blige and her career survived personal upheaval and a debilitating period of substance abuse. In 2001, she said she reached her lowest point.
“I guess my own voice, or God, spoke to me and said, ‘Haven’t you learned anything? This is the moment where you see what you’re made of — get up,' ” she said in 2014. "And I did. I got up.”
Years later, “Mudbound’s” Florence Jackson inspired more growth.
“I was so vain and kind of shallow, and I didn’t know that until I had to play Florence,” Blige told Deadline. “Now, I have something in me that’s really, really powerful. I’m so grateful for that.”
MARY J. BLIGE/ANTHONY HAMILTON
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Raising Cane’s River Center Arena, 275 S. River Road, Baton Rouge