Mary J. Blige stood onstage last night at the Democratic National Convention and took a moment to reflect on a week of speeches in support of President Barack Obama. “I am so thankful that the message has been that we are in this together,” she said at the beginning of a two-song set at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. “That’s makes us all one.”
She was one of three major musical acts to perform on the final night of the convention, between short sets by James Taylor and Foo Fighters. Wearing a form-fitting gown of silver and gold, Blige began with an emotional reading of U2’s “One” as delegates clapped to the beat, followed by her own “Family Affair,” telling the packed arena, “Get it crunk for President Obama!” On the convention floor after her set, Blige told Rolling Stone about the experience.
How was it up there?
It felt so good to be up there. I felt like I’m a part of everything – which I am! [Laughs] It’s an historic moment.
How did you decide what songs to play for something like this?
I looked at the Democratic Convention and I’m looking at what everyone is saying. I’ve been saying this for years, since Obama got in: We’re in this together. And that’s what we’re doing. “Family Affair” is perfect. We’re all going to be family in this. We all have families that we need to take care of. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what race or what education you have, we are all one. Everyone wants to know that we are in this together.
Have you gotten to know Barack Obama very well?
I don’t know him very well, but I’m a great judge of character, and he seems pretty sincere to me. He and his wife are just beautiful people, beautiful children. And he speaks to us like he knows us. I’m happy for that.
Were you interested in politics before this?
I’m not interested in being a part of politics. I don’t know how to always say the politically correct thing. I just know how to be honest and tell the truth when it’s time to do that.
What has stood out for you this convention?
Michelle Obama blew me away. President Clinton last night was amazing, and Elizabeth Warren blew me away too.
Will you be involved in any more campaign events?
I am on tour right now, the Liberation Tour. I’ll be making sure to let everybody know to get out and vote for President Obama.
How often have you performed for him?
Whenever he needs me, I’ll be there. I did the inauguration. That was the first time. It’s a blessing. You’re the president and you know who I am? That means so much to me. When I was a little girl growing up, I had no idea I would even make it this far, let alone be singing for the president.
There haven’t been a lot of presidents very aware of things happening in music and pop culture.
He’s our generation. He knows it. He gets us, and he gets all of pop culture. That’s a great president. That means he’s not dealing with just one generation – he’s dealing with all generations, and children are enlightening him on things. He’s very real, down to earth. He’s not missing out on the real world.