She's nominated for two Academy Awards, but, on top of that, Mary J. Blige also performed at the 2018 Oscars. And her song kicked off the series of Best Original Song performances of the night in a very emotional way. Blige sang "Mighty River" from Mudbound powerfully and was near tears by the end.
Before taking the stage, the singer was introduced by Taraji P. Henson. "This song acknowledges the struggle and pain of life while urging for our differences to be washed away," the Empire star said. "And now to perform 'Mighty River' from Mudbound the first person ever nominated for Academy Awards for both Song and Supporting Actress in the same year, my sister, Mary J. Blige."
The actor-singer then appeared on stage in a striking magenta gown with a scene of a barn from the film and rain projected behind her. Soon, she was joined by a large choir, and eventually the rain being projected was changed to show a sunny day.
Blige sang the song very comfortably and, as expected from the singer, with a great amount of emotion. By the end it seemed like she was about to cry, which is totally understandable. This year, the singer is nominated for her first Oscars — not one, but two on the same night. And the Best Song Oscar is for a song she both performs and co-wrote, along with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson. To be in that position and to be singing your song on stage in front of hundreds of your very talented peers — and the millions of viewers at home — would be one of the most unbelievable and amazing moments of your life. It'd be more than reasonable for anyone to get emotional.
Along with "Mighty River", the Best Original Song nominees are "Mystery Of Love" from Call Me By Your Name (Sufjan Stevens), "Remember Me" from Coco (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez), "Stand Up For Something" from Marshall (Lonnie R. Lynn and Diane Warren), and "This Is Me," The Greatest Showman (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul).
As for the Best Supporting Actress category, in which Blige is also nominated, she is up against Allison Janney for I, Tonya, Lesley Manville, for Phantom Thread, Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, and Octavia Spencer for The Shape Of Water.
Mudbound tells the stories of two men who return from war, one white and one black. Blige plays Florence, the mother of the black war veteran and a member of a sharecropping family. In an interview with Deadline when she received her Oscar nominations, Blige said, "I didn’t anticipate any of this. I just knew I was part of a very powerful, important film, and I was happy to be a part of it.” She also said of director Dee Rees,
“I was happy that Dee took the time to nurture me into Florence the way she did. She created such a safe space for me to let this character live, and this character actually liberated me and broke me out of a lot of things. I was so vain, and kind of shallow, and I didn’t know that until I had to play Florence. Now, I have something in me that’s really, really powerful, and I’m so grateful for that.”
Ahead of her performance at the Oscars, she spoke with Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet and said, "I'm so excited. I don't even know what to do with myself." She added, "To have the Oscars recognize me as a songwriter and a singer, oh man, it's just the cherry on top of the 25-year music business cake. It says we keep doing this."
And keep doing it she did with her wonderful Oscars performance.