Soul icon speaks about her meeting with the late singer’s father in a forthcoming interview with the Observer

By Harriet Gibsone

Mary J Blige has talked about her sadness following Amy Winehouse’s death, and revealed how this prompted her to pay a visit to the late singer’s father, Mitch.

The nine-time Grammy-award-winning soul singer visited Mitch, whom she had not met before, while recording her new album in London this summer.

“I didn’t know Amy. I never got a chance to meet her. But it was one of the things that I really wanted to do,” she tells the Observer’s Tom Horan in Sunday’s paper.

“I wanted to give her a hug and tell her how much I love her, and how much people love her. Just tell her how awesome and amazing I thought she was.”

She adds: “It was like he gave me the chance to hug her through him. He gave the best hug! But it was sad, too, because it was the anniversary [of Amy’s death]. But I watched him be strong and try to tell it and hold back tears, and I was holding back tears.”

Blige spent a month in London recording her album in RAK studios with a host of young British acts, including Disclosure, Naughty Boy and Sam Smith. Ten new songs, co-written and recorded by the singer, will be released this autumn on an album entitled Mary J Blige: The London Sessions.

“I wanted to embrace the [London] culture. To embrace Amy,” says Blige of her album.

The singer, who has spoken previously of her own struggles with drug abuse, alcoholism and depression, also praised Amy Winehouse’s talent and character. “She had a lot of pain, a lot of joy, a lot of struggle, trying to figure out ‘Who am I’? And she was just so free in her expression. She said whatever she wanted to say – and that’s what I admired about her. She was talking to you: ‘It is what it is – like it or not.’”

The death of Amy Winehouse shook the world in 2011, with family, friends and fans lamenting the loss of one of music’s finest voices. Winehouse rose to fame with her debut album, Frank, in 2003 before being catapulted to stardom with the 2006 follow-up album, Back to Black. She was found dead in her Camden flat, north London, on the afternoon of Saturday 23 July 2011.

• Read the full interview with Mary J Blige in Sunday’s Observer.


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