Mary J. Blige knows how to bring people out.
In partnership with Pepsi and Live Nation Urban, the global superstar hosted the second annual Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit at AmericasMart in Atlanta. The four-day event included a jazz night with Grammy-winning pianist and arranger Robert Glasper, two star-studded concerts at State Farm Arena, a comedy night, panel conversations, a gospel brunch, and a ball. And Baller Alert had an exclusive look at it all.
The Mother’s Day weekend event started with an evening with Robert Glasper. The Grammy and Emmy-winning artist and producer joined forces with the Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit to deliver a powerful evening of music at City Winery Atlanta. Glasper treated the audience to a range of songs and musical impressions, including renditions of Mary J. Blige’s “Be Happy,” Common’s “The Light,” and Sade’s “Cherish the Day.” Glasper also surprised guests with an exceptional performance from Luke James and a poetry reading from Queen Sheba.
On Friday, Atlanta sold out the State Farm Arena for the #HipHop50 celebration. The concert was a celebration of the past, present, and future of hip-hop music with electrifying performances from artists who have paved the way, such as Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Busta Rhymes, Jeezy, Method Man and Jadakiss.
D.J. Drama also graced the stage, surprising the crowd with guest performances from Atlanta’s own T.I., K Camp, Young Dro, Bobby Valentino, Lloyd, Dem Franchize Boyz, and Travis Porter. The energy of the stage excited the crowd as Jeezy “Put On” for his city and got the crowd “Geeked Up.”
The icing on the cake was when Mary surprised guests with special performances by Missy Elliott, Rah Digga, Ciara, and Brooklyn newcomer Lola Brooke. In an exclusive interview with Brooke, she shared Ciara’s influence on her career and how the singer’s support has been solid throughout her journey to fame.
Brooke also discussed a future collaboration with Meek Mill in the works. “He and I have been in the studio. Something is coming soon.”
Day three of the Summit featured a full day of pivotal panels and engaging programming from some of the most influential Black voices in diverse industries. The keys were delivered – and the audience listened! Top-tier activations and engaging panel discussions were in motion at the Summit as guests gathered to hear from Marsai Martin, Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Gail Bean, Mara Brock Akil, Brandee Evans, and more. Attendees enjoyed hearing from successful entrepreneurs, influencers, and experts in their fields and the opportunity to connect with like-minded women.
When asked if she would be open to a possible collab with Evans and Bean produced by the legendary Akil (Girlfriends), Martin said absolutely. “I’m not going to act like we didn’t have that conversation. It was absolutely had. That would be a dream.”
The festivities continued with a highly anticipated R&B Show featuring Coco Jones, Muni Long, Lucky, Daye, Summer Walker, and the legendary Ms. Lauryn Hill.
In an exclusive interview with Muni Long, she discussed her “Hrs & Hrs” remix with Usher. The Grammy award-winning song trended on social media for months after its release, striking the interest of celebrities and influencers alike. Since its Grammy win, fans have waited for the “Climax” singer to hop on the remix, and according to Long, the collaboration is a go; she’s just waiting on him.
The star-studded weekend concluded with a gospel brunch and a ball. The Purpose Ball: Bridging The Gap honored the LGBTQIA+ community’s undeniable impact on popular culture and highlighted the disparities of access and equity in healthcare for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities. Sponsored by Gilead Sciences, The Purpose Ball was produced by actor and social advocate Miss Lawrence, the legendary Atlanta Mother of the Iconic International House of Balenciaga.
Special appearances by commentator Dashaun Wesley and guest judges – including Mary J. Blige, Law Roach, Raven Goodwin, Gail Bean, Brandee Evans, and Yashua Simmons – energized the crowd.
The Strength of a Woman Summit and Festival is the brainchild of Mary J. Blige and curated by Mary alongside Ayars Agency founder Ashaunna Ayars. In an exclusive interview with Monique Rodriguez (Mielle Organics owner and SOAW sponsor), Strength of Woman will be as big as Essence Festival. “We will level up every single year. Get ready.”