Known as the mecca for Black women, creatives and business owners, Atlanta, Georgia hosted Mary J. Blige’s inaugural “Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit,” which was like Essence Fest meets Circle of Sisters. The three-day experience took place during Mother’s Day weekend (May 6th-8th) 2022 and was in partnership with Pepsi, along with Live Nation Urban. It was evident that the mission fed the theme of being dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of women.
When news of the festival was first announced, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul revealed, “The idea for the festival came to us after early listening sessions of my latest album with my family and friends and women in the industry. Each time, the people in the room would share a story, oftentimes of heartbreak or pain, but they always ended with joy and love and how their girlfriends or Mom or sister helped them find their voice and strength. We felt like after two years of being inside and having to endure so much, that this was the type of experience that people, especially women, deserved.”
Particularly, she chose Atlanta because, “it just feels like this is where we supposed to be.” She explained in our exclusive chat, “There’s so many Black-owned businesses, so much Black everything and Black women in power. I mean, the fans out here don’t play; they’re very excited. They love me so much, they give real love. Not that no other place does, but Atlanta’s fun. Why not?”
VIBE was invited to spend the weekend with Mary and her friends as we explored “The A” on the singer’s terms with once-in-a-lifetime panels, activations, and experiences.
Our weekend began on Friday night (May 6) at the Buckhead Theater where the comedy show starring Ms. Pat, Just Nesh, and Erica Duchess took place. Jokes flew about the ongoing pandemic, STD outbreaks across Chicago and Atlanta, familial life, motherhood, and more. As many comedians say, comedy stems from turning dark moments into something bright. After being introduced with a surprise popup from Mary herself, the star of The Ms. Pat Show on the BET+ channel, closed out the show with a word of wisdom: “take the darkest s**t in your life and when you can laugh at it, you got control of it.”