The iconic songstress was presented with the key at the after-party for Mayor Marty Small Sr.'s 'Together We Rise' Inaugural Gala.
Mary J. Blige now has her own key to the city! Atlantic City that is. On Saturday, the 51-year-old musician was presented with a key to the city by Mayor Marty Small Sr. during the after-party for the "Together We Rise" Inaugural Gala.
Per The Press of Atlantic City, the gala is a charitable event, and proceeds benefit the Greater Atlantic City Youth Association, a 501(c)(3) organization that supports the city's youth programs. Those programs include the Atlantic City Boys & Girls Club, the Empowerment Tools Coalition and the Omega by the Sea Foundation.
Blige hosted the after-party at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, which included music by DJ Self from Power 105.1 FM and DJ Marty Geez. In a video posted by Kevin Hines (@kev1host), Mayor Small Sr. presents Blige with the key onstage.
"As Mayor of the great city of Atlantic City, I saw that Atlanta gave you a day," he said, referring to last month's "Strength of a Woman Day" in Atlanta, which served as the lead into Blige's "Strength of a Woman Festival & Summit" over Mother's Day weekend.
"I'm presenting you with a key to the city," Mayor Small Sr. added, giving Blige a large plaque with the golden key.
The video shows Blige accepting the key and then dancing alongside the Mayor onstage.
The key is the latest in a string of honors for Blige! The songstress accepted the coveted ICON Award last month at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards. She is one of only 11 other artists to receive the honor, joining an elite class of honorees including Pink, Garth Brooks, Cher, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey.
While accepting her award, presented by Janet Jackson, Mary reflected on the status of an "icon" in culture, and the public perception of artists deemed icons.
"The way the world is now, I think people think icons are born that way, that they become a legend overnight, but that is definitely not the case," she shared. "It takes a lot of time, hard work, and a lot of surviving, trial and error, to achieve greatness."
"What an icon means to me is overcoming obstacles to accomplish the unthinkable and be wildly admired for having influence over a multitude of people, and that is what I've always represented," she continued. "I've been on this journey for a long time. One that didn't always look the way you see me now. One that was filled with a lot of heartache and pain. But God helped me to channel those experiences and emotions into my music."
"I was ghetto fabulous and I still am! So ghetto, so fabulous, and people were threatened by that. And now everybody want to be ghetto fabulous," Mary explained. "The message of my music has always been that we are not alone in our struggles and I'm not alone now. For so long I was searching for real love, but I finally found my real love -- and that real love is me."