Mary J. Blige spent her birthday on Thursday basking in the adulation of family, friends, and colleagues while receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…finally.
“I’m so grateful for this star right now because I’ve earned it probably three times,” Blige told the crowd. “I say that with confidence and not arrogance. I say it because I know that now, and I know my worth, and what this means.”
The dedication on Thursday, January 11 followed speeches from record producer Andre Harrell and former mentor Sean “Diddy” Combs. Both praised Blige for her talent and strength.
The Grammy Award-winning artist and recent Golden Globes nominee was serenaded by fans singing “Happy Birthday” as she posed for pictures and hugged family members before the ceremony began. “I’m proud of us. Look at where we are,” Blige replied to one fan.
The Queen of Hip Hop Soul stood beside Harrell as he recalled the first moment he heard her voice. “I remember the expression on Mary’s face when I would say to her ‘Your voice is going to sing with rock legends. Your voice is going to change your life and make you royal,” Harrell said, adding that since being introduced on “Soul Train” as “the queen of hip-hop and soul music,” the title remains.
Diddy, who collaborated with Blige on her early breakout albums, praised the singer for her ability to heal through her music. “Whatever she is going through, she knows she has a responsibility to help others who are going through the same thing,” Diddy said. “Mary J. Blige has saved a lot of lives. Mary J. Blige has saved a lot of broken hearts.”
Blige also gave shoutouts to other friends and family in the audience, including outgoing BET chief executive Debra Lee, “Mudbound” costar Garrett Hedlund, and music producer and Apple executive Jimmy Iovine.
Iovine, she said through tears, provided a roof over her head during her contentious divorce from Kendu Isaacs.
“When all hell was turning loose in 2016 and I had to file and all of that stuff, I was homeless last year,” she said, adding, “Jimmy Iovine took me into his Malibu home, he and his beautiful wife, Liberty. I will never forget that.”
Blige took a moment to acknowledge “Mudbound” director Dee Rees who also attended. “You really, really saved my life,” Blige said. “‘Mudbound’” opened up doors and gave me strength I didn’t even know I had.”
View clips and pics from the ceremony above and below:
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(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)