Mary J. Blige lends her talents to a personal project

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After a screening of the upcoming drama "Precious," Mary J. Blige knew immediately that she wanted to write a song for the film. Touched by the story of a Harlem teen coping with the birth of her second child, Blige saw a lot of her own struggles on the screen. "I grew up with the same past -- I know that girl," she says.

The product of a troubled childhood who suffered abuse at the hands of a family friend, Blige says the song, "I Can See in Color," is testament to what it means to triumph. She says director Lee Daniels gave her some valuable advice. "Don't hold anything back was all he instructed," she says. "Look at (the song) as you being the character."

Blige, who will be a keynote speaker at today's Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Film & TV Music Conference, says the lyrics express the theme of escape and liberation, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. It's a universal message to all women that she says helped immeasurably in the writing process.

"Everywhere now some young girl is being treated badly by a family member, somewhere or by people," she says. "Based on my own pain and what I had seen, the song was easy to write. Period."

Writing the song might have come easily, but during the recording process Blige says she experienced flashbacks from her past, including strong feelings of anguish and insecurity that she felt as a child. This only strengthened her resolve to convey the song's core message: That everyone, no matter what their circumstances, must continue to believe in themselves. "Never give up on yourself even when everyone is doubting you," she says emphatically. "People are mean and cruel because they are suffering, too. It's not about freeing other people, it's about freeing ourselves."

Blige isn't the only superstar involved in the Lionsgate film, which bowed at Sundance -- the project also features such A-listers as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Lenny Kravitz.

So what's next for the singer-songwriter? She says she recently received another script which requires more focus than she can muster at the moment. "I'm in the trenches trying to get my 'Stronger' album right, and correct, and special for my fans," she says. "I have a December release, so it's crunch time."
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