So we're going to Atlanta tonight. I have an aunt there. I haven't seen her in, I don't know, ten years or so. But I digress. I should change my introduction a bit.
So we're going to Atlanta tonight. Again. The city's a favorite destination for American Idol auditions. I think they've been here for seven seasons or so. No surprise some of the show's most successful alumni have auditioned in this city. Clay Aiken began his campaign here. Fantasia Barrino began her campaign here. The biggest success story, perhaps, is Jennifer Hudson--she auditioned for Idol here, and look where it brought her.
Tonight's guest judge also has connections to the state of Georgia, never mind that she was actually born in New York, and has made quite a deal out of it. Soul pioneer Mary J. Blige spent her childhood years in Savannah, where she began singing in church. Now, she's a Grammy-winning artist. There really is something with this city, huh?
After a slow start to her career, Blige released her debut album, What's the 411?, in 1991; it became a huge success in the charts, and led her producer and eventual manager, a certain Sean Combs, to call her the "queen of hip-hop soul". Her sophomore release, My Life, came out in 1994; Share My World in 1997; Mary in 1999; No More Drama in 2001; Love & Life in 2003; The Breakthrough in 2005; Growing Pains in 2007 and her most recent, Stronger With Each Tear, last year.
She's acted too, in a handful of films, but obviously all her accolades were because of her music. She won her first Grammy in 1996, and has since won eight more. Her 2005 release, The Breakthrough, was her most successful, taking him three Grammys, including two for her lead single "Be Without You". She's also won four American Music Awards, three of which for Favorite Female R&B/Soul Artist.
Judging from the city's track record, it shouldn't be a surprise if a lot of who we'll see tonight will end up in Hollywood, or the Top 24, or better yet, the Top 12. Lots more slots to fill. If Mary was auditioning... let me remember what she told us during the So You Think You Can Dance finale. There. "I used to win talent shows, but it wasn't even a matter of winning talent shows. I used to get standing ovations when I was seven!"
Well, now you're a guest judge, Mary. It's gotta be a totally different experience.