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Mary J. Blige Admits She Used to 'Hate' the Sound of Her Voice but Her Self-Love Journey Changed That: 'I'm a Fan'

“I’m boasting and bragging and loving on myself because I’ve earned it," the Queen of R&B shared on 'TODAY with Hoda & Jenna'

Mary J. Blige has learned to find “Real Love” for both herself and her own music.

The R&B icon, 53, appeared on Wednesday’s episode of TODAY with Hoda & Jenna and admitted that she “didn’t like” the sound of her own voice for years, but her self-love journey has helped her to think otherwise — and taught her to embrace how important it is to “love on ourselves.”

Blige told hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager that only in recent years has she been able to listen to her own music. “I do now, I didn’t used to. I didn’t like the sound of my voice,” the nine-time Grammy winner revealed.

“But now I listen to my music and now I love everything about me, I do,” she continued. “I used to hate everything about me. The sound of my voice, the sound of my speaking voice. And I used to just be afraid to hear any music back.”

<p>Marcus Ingram/Getty</p> Mary J, Blige performing at Honeyland Festival in Sugar Land, Texas in November 2023

Marcus Ingram/Getty

Mary J, Blige performing at Honeyland Festival in Sugar Land, Texas in November 2023

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The “Family Affair” singer explained that she’s come a long way and can now listen to all of her records. “Like, I’m a fan,” she sweetly noted of herself.

Blige also spoke candidly about how she’s come to embrace self-love over time and how it impacts her life today. “We grow up thinking we couldn’t boast or brag or love on ourselves, and now I’m doing all that,” the singer-songwriter shared. “I’m boasting and bragging and loving on myself because I’ve earned it.”

She continued, “I have so much fun with myself. I’m like, ‘Girl, you look so good. I’m so proud of you. Oh, that looks nice on you.’ And I’m by myself a lot, so I’m always like, ‘Oh Mary, I love that! Let’s wear this tonight. That’s gonna be hot!’”

“I’m my friend, you know, and I love me,” the superstar added.

<p>Paras Griffin/Getty Images</p> Mary J. Blige at Urban One Honors: Best in Black in Atlanta in January 2024

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Mary J. Blige at Urban One Honors: Best in Black in Atlanta in January 2024

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Blige explained that she learned to feel so positively about herself after growing “frustrated with” feeling like she had to “be what everybody wanted me to be.” “The hell with everybody else! It’s about me and what I love,” she said. “What I believe about me and think about me … is more important than anybody and more effective than anybody.”

The My Life artist added, “I’m not perfect, but I strive to be better and that’s what I love about me. I love the fact that I want to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.”

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Blige’s positive outlook led her in recent years to launch her Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit, a multi-day event that’s centered around women’s empowerment.

Theo Wargo/Getty Mary J. Blige at the 'Mary J. Blige's My Life' premiere in June 2021
Theo Wargo/Getty Mary J. Blige at the 'Mary J. Blige's My Life' premiere in June 2021

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The Queen of R&B recently announced the event is coming back for its third iteration this year from May 10-12. For the first time, it’ll be held in New York City and feature a handful of live events, including a comedy show at the Apollo Theatre with Tiffany Haddish and a concert at the Barclays Center with Blige, 50 Cent, Jill Scott, Fat Joe and more.

"Having the opportunity to continue to uplift, inspire, and build within my community is the reason I created this festival," Blige said in a statement. "Nobody does it like New York, so get ready."

Ahead of last year’s Strength of a Woman Festival, the musician told PEOPLE that she’s always felt as if giving back was her “mission in life.” 

"Giving is a part of my life. And when I began to encourage women, I didn't even know that I could start a movement like that," Blige shared.

"In my neighborhood, we never had this type of event that we can bring our kids to, and grown women can go to and get uplifted and encouraged," she added. "So I feel really good about being able to give that back to these communities and these places and to these people that were like me, that didn't have it."

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