The musical icon spoke to ET about her newest venture -- children's book author!
Mary J. Blige is turning her negatives into positives in the best way possible. The musical icon has added children's book author to her impressive list of accomplishments and opened up to ET about the journey during a recent reading.
Described as a "fun and inspirational story that teaches young readers they can be anything, and they are enough," Mary Can is the singer's first children's book, borne out of her desire to turn the no's she's faced in life into a world of yes.
"It's to let you know you can do anything in the world that you put your mind to and anything in the world that you wanna do that's positive and that's healthy," Blige tells a group of avid young listeners as they prepare for the reading. "So listen to your parents, but most of all, don't let anybody tell you can't do anything."
According to the book's synopsis, Mary Can follows a confident and ambitious girl "who doesn't feed into negativity" despite having been told that there are many things she can’t do. "Like stay up past bedtime, or be an astronaut or become president But what she really wants is to sing, and she isn’t about to let anyone tell her she can’t do it," the description reads. "This debut children’s book from legendary artist Mary J. Blige proves that anyone can make their dreams come true by believing in themselves."
Reflecting on her inspiration to write the book, Blige explains that she felt motivated by her multiple generations of fans. "My fans have been so good to me and they have children now, and the children have children, you know? So, I feel like a way to give back is to let my fans know how much I appreciate them by blessing their children with something that inspires them," she shares, adding that she didn't want to "immediately come out with a serious autobiography."
Blige shares that she drew from "real heavy, real-life situations" to provide lightness with her book. "I took the heaviness and the darkness of it all, of my life, and I turned it into a light for a little girl somewhere in the world," she says. "Let her know, you know, don't let anyone tell you [that] you can't do anything or you can't be anything or you're not beautiful, you're not smart, or you're not intelligent or talented. So instead of being so heavy and serious with it, [I] turn it into something that can help a child grow up and be confident."
"It helps them to get further [in the world]," Blige adds, pointing out how easy it can be to feel "stuck" when insecurities get in the way. "If you don't believe in yourself, people won't believe in you. That's the main thing. If you don't believe in yourself, people will not believe in you."
Crediting her own journey to her late aunt Laura Bell, Blige shares that Bell "always believed in me, she always loved me and supported me and my mom," which she hopes to mimic with her own nieces and nephews. And it's thanks to her "great team and publishers" that she's able to juggle her many ventures, including being an award-winning international star, talk show host and writing her first book.
"[It's cool having] a team of people that helped me to do everything that I'm doing, [an] amazing team. I'm blessed," she concludes.
Mary Can is out now.