When Mary J. Blige belts out her hit “No More Drama,” she really means it.
The R&B superstar — who just brought down the house at the 2019 BET Awards on Sunday after scooping up the Lifetime Achievement Award — is taking her winning streak to New Orleans for this year’s 25th Annual ESSENCE Festival, which she’ll headline for the 15th time, kicking off her Royalty Tour with pal Nas.
After a tumultuous couple of years that included her contentious divorcefrom former manager Kendu Isaacs, the star, 48, opens up to PEOPLE in this week’s issue about moving on with her happy, healthy and busy single life now.
“If I could tell my younger self something, I would tell her don’t be afraid of your imperfections, because one day people are going to love you for them,” says Blige. With hoards of fans who routinely sing along to her heartbreak hits like “Not Gon’ Cry”, she’s right.
It’s those songs that ended up helping her through her recent split from Isaacs after 13 years of marriage. Asked whether she finds it tough singing about lost love these days, she says that actually, “It’s therapeutic. To travel back and to relive something again and not have it drive you crazy is a true gift from God.”
In 2017, Blige opened up about what all she’d been though, alleging that Isaacs had been unfaithful during their marriage. She didn’t find peace until last year.
“I think I turned that corner when I got my divorce. I think that I realized that no matter what comes to me, no matter how big or bad it is, I have to keep moving, I have to keep living. I said, ‘No, I’m not going to stay in this marriage. I’m out of here.’ That’s what thriving is about.”
Now, “I’m very content, and I’m happy with myself,” says Blige. “I learned to be happy with just Mary, just enjoying my own company, me by myself most of the time. I’m grateful.”