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Overview

Strength of a Woman

On Strength of a Woman, Mary J. Blige covers a lot of lyrical ground familiar to anyone who has heard her 11 previous studio albums. A significant fraction of this set's sentiments are clichéd. There are self-help platitudes such as "You gotta love yourself before you love someone else," along with timeworn redemptive declarations like "I was lost but now I'm found" and "Now I'm finally free to be me." In fairness, the stock phrases are delivered with conviction, understandably weighed with a sense of "Not this bull again." The alleged extramarital antics that dragged Blige back into this darkness, after all, are as clichéd as it gets. Clearly the time wasn't right for Blige to record a bunch of feel-good jams, but in the listener's favor, the anguish has also inspired the singer and her co-writers and producers -- Brandon Hodge, Darhyl Camper, Jr., Prince Charlez, and Jazmine Sullivan, along with many others -- to illustrate these ballads of confrontation and perseverance with enough specifics to distinguish them from the past work. Take "Set Me Free," where a swanky, winding backdrop supports stinging "hmph" lines like "You musta lost it -- n*gga, you won't get a dime," followed by "There's a special place in hell for you" in dismissive high register. A clinking Kaytranada collaboration ("Telling the Truth"), a back-stabbed weeper that bares Sullivan's unmistakable touch ("Thank You"), and a machine-soul ballad worthy of an extended 12" mix ("U + Me [Love Lesson]") likewise could not have been made at any other point in Blige's career. A few songs do depart from expressing pain and the documentation of recovery. Brightest of all is "Find the Love," pure early-'80s boogie throwback. Just beneath that is the title track, a theatrical empowerment anthem that would likely close just about any other album. Instead, extra punctuation is provided by "Hello Father," another gem. It contains one of the hour's best grooves, provided by Hit-Boy, and is all devotional finesse. [A clean version was also released.]

Product Details

Release Date: 04/28/2017
Label: Capitol
UPC: 0602557534825
catalogNumber: 002660102
Rank: 7751

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mary J. Blige   Primary Artist
Fred Jackson   Saxophone
Duane Benjamin   Trombone
Kevin Brandon   Bass
David Brown   Background Vocals
Mark Cargill   Violin
Paul Cartwright   Violin
Yvette Devereaux   Violin
Ernest Ehrhardt   Cello
Keith Fiddmont   Saxophone
Stefanie Fife   Cello
Terry Glenny   Violin
Eric Jorgensen   Trombone
Miguel Martinez   Cello
Scott Mayo   Saxophone
Jimbo Ross   Viola
Susan Chatman   Violin
Lesa Terry   Violin
Raphael Saadiq   Conductor
Edwin Livingston   Bass
Peter Jacobson   Cello
Aaron Draper   Percussion
Eric Gorfain   Violin
Daphne Chen   Violin,Concert Master
Kathleen Robertson   Violin
Timothy Loo   Cello
Leah Katz   Viola
Songa Lee   Violin
James Ford   Trumpet
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson   Conductor,Soloist
Marisa Kuney   Violin
Lucia Micarelli   Violin
Nicole Garcia   Violin
Caroline Buckman   Viola
Jazmine Sullivan   Background Vocals
Karen Elaine   Viola
Jeanie Lim   Viola
Alison Bjorkedal   Harp
Kevin Woods   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Ina Veli   Violin
Nika Ross   Cello
Chris Woods   Violin
Vanessa Freebairn-Smith   Cello
Richard Adkins   Violin
Thomas Lea   Viola
Matt Franke   Trumpet
Benjamin Wright   Conductor
Mary Sloan   Violin
Charles Hinshaw   Background Vocals
Alexander Sowinski   Piano,Hand Clapping
Chester Hansen   Synthesizer
Darhyl "DJ" Camper   Organ,Piano,Drums,fender rhodes
Daniel Caesar   Background Vocals
Louis Kevin Celestin   Percussion,Drums,Synthesizer Bass
Bianca McClure   Violin
Eric Whatley   Bass
Yesseh Furaha-Ali   Alto Saxophone
Frank Rein   Trombone
Crystal Alferque   Violin
Louis Tayler   Saxophone
Si Tran   Viola
Steffan Smith   Viola
Sal Crachiolo   Trumpet
Mei Yee   Violin
Wyndell Kelly   Trombone
Jennifer Takamatsu   Violin
Derrick Baker   Guitar

Technical Credits

Duane Benjamin   Horn Conductor
Mary J. Blige   Composer,Executive Producer
David Brown   Composer
Mark Cargill   String Contractor
Michael Frenke   Engineer
John Goodison   Composer
Teddy Riley   Additional Production
Gavin Taylor   Art Direction
Richard Butler   Composer
Eric Dawkins   Composer
Missy Elliott   Composer
Vincent Berry   Composer
Kanye West   Composer
Jaymz Hardy-Martin   Engineer,Vocal Mixing
Dwayne Nesmith   Composer
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson   Arranger,String Arrangements,Harp Arrangement
Sergio "Sergical" Tsai   Engineer
Jazmine Sullivan   Composer
William Tyler   Composer,Producer
Hit Boy   Producer
Priscilla Renea   Composer
Tremaine Neverson   Composer
Cainon Lamb   Composer
Davion Farris   Composer,Engineer
Benjamin Wright   Composer,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements,Horn Conductor,String Conductor
Brandon Hodge   Composer
Stuart Schenk   Engineer
Theron Feemster   Composer,Producer
Charles Hinshaw   Composer
Marshall Bryant   Engineer,Vocal Engineer
Chauncey Hollis   Composer
Alexander Sowinski   Composer
BadBadNotGood   Producer
Chester Hansen   Composer
Darhyl "DJ" Camper   Composer,Producer
Reggie Dozier   Engineer
Matthew Tavares   Composer,Engineer
Elese Teyonie Russell   Composer
Quavious Marshall   Composer
Kaytranada   Producer
Louis Kevin Celestin   Composer
Brandon "B.A.M." Hodge   Producer
Cameron Graham   Engineer
Cortni Elisa Jordan   Composer
Steven "Q-Beatz" Kubie   Programming
Ashton Simmonds   Composer
Dave Hoddell   Composer
Spike Hoddell   Composer
Derrick Baker   Composer

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