Mary J. Blige Brings Her All-Black Female-Led ‘Strength Of A Woman’ Festival To New York City

Mary J. Blige is bringing the Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit to New York City for its third annual installment. The festival, which previously took place in Atlanta during its first two years, will now be held in New York City, the birthplace of Hip-Hop and the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul herself.

The illuminating factor behind the Strength of a Woman Festival is its all-Black female team. From event management to marketing, every member is part of the Black female community, which embodies the festival’s purpose — demonstrating that not only individual women but also groups of women can successfully plan and execute a multi-day festival. This decision reflects Blige’s commitment to highlighting the visibility of deserving Black women. In an exclusive interview with Forbes, Blige explained her rationale behind assembling this strategic team:

“Black women in any business are the most overlooked, underpaid, underestimated,” said Blige. “I wanted to put them in a light where people see how amazing we all are and not overlooked.”

The festival’s sponsorship lineup includes several Black-owned and female-led brands like Mielle Organics, On a Mission by Ciara, Sister Love (a collaboration between Mary J. Blige and Simone I. Smith), and Sun Goddess Wines (Mary J. Blige’s own wine brand). These sponsorships not only support the interests of women but also raise awareness about the presence of high-quality Black-owned businesses.

The 3-day event will take place on May 10, 11, and 12 over the Mother’s Day weekend at a variety of top venues in New York City. The Strength of a Woman Festival will kick off on Friday, May 10 with a comedy show at the Apollo Theater featuring Tiffany Haddish, while Robert Glasper will be performing at the Blue Note.

The following day will include the arena show at the Barclays Center hosted by Angie Martinez, featuring a live performance by Mary J. Blige and guest appearances by Jill Scott, 50 Cent, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Muni Long, Lola Brooke, and Funk Flex.

Amidst the lineup, featuring appearances by Jill Scott, Muni Long, Lola Brooke, and Tiffany Haddish — all successful in their respective fields of singing, rapping, songwriting, acting, and comedy — Blige sees these performances as a chance to spotlight Black women who have used their inner strength to forge ahead in their careers. Blige is also extending the comedy branch to breakout personalities Don’t Call Me White Girl and Paris Sashay.

The arena event will feature a segment honoring the mothers in hip-hop culture. In the 1990s, pivotal moments occurred when the mothers of hip-hop artists became prominent figures, like Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace during the deaths of Tupac and Biggie. Today, mothers continue to play crucial roles as primary managers for rapper children like Stacia Mac for Polo G and Holly Thomas, who managed Megan Thee Stallion before her passing. The unwavering commitment of these mothers in the hip-hop community to uphold the legacies of their gifted offspring should not be overlooked.

“Mothers are extremely important because without them, there would be no hip hop culture, as there would be no hip hop artists,” said Blige. “Mothers are the reason these people are here. They birth these people, and we have to always acknowledge that, especially on Mother’s Day.”

Mary J. Blige, lauded as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, has emerged as one of the most influential Black female figures in the hip-hop and R&B world, particularly during her dominant reign in the 1990s. From her groundbreaking debut album What’s the 411 to her recent success in acting, such as portraying Monet on Power Book II: Ghost— alongside numerous achievements including multiple Grammy, Billboard, BET, Soul Train, and American Music Awards; Blige has solidified herself as a mogul. In addition to her wine company Sun Goddess Wines, she also owns a production company called Blue Butterfly.

“This is my identity. The whole goal is to elevate and sustain, and not to stay in the same place. You do that through entrepreneurship, by figuring out new ways to invent yourself and create revenue streams to have longevity,” said Blige.

Recognizing the significance of transformation, Mary J. Blige sees value in placing entrepreneurship at the forefront of reinvention. The “Real Love” singer has transitioned from being a leading figure in promoting female empowerment to exploring her other passions and offering innovative solutions through an entrepreneurial approach, as demonstrated by her involvement in the Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit.

The festival will end on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12 with a brunch at Brooklyn Chop House in Times Square and a concert starring the Clark Sisters at the Brooklyn Paramount.

“Instead of being a Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, be the biggest and best Queen of Hip-Hop Soul in the world that you can be for yourself.”

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