Mary J. Blige’s Pepsi Festival In NYC Honors Women’s Strength On Mother’s Day

May 14, 2024

Over the weekend, GRAMMY and Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated artist, actress, producer, and entrepreneur Mary J. Blige, PEPSI®, Live Nation Urban, and MVD Inc.

The event was wrapped in an unforgettable takeover across New York City, from May 10th to May 12th, for the third annual Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit. The lively weekend consisted of three days devoted to music, female empowerment sessions, exceptional industry speakers and moving testimonials. Created and curated by the newly inducted Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honoree, Mary J. Blige, the Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit is the only festival experience in the market, brought to you exclusively by an all-Black female team, and arrived at the birthplace of Hip-Hop, New York City, after previously being held in Atlanta for its first two years.

“… dream come to life.”

“This past weekend was a whirlwind in the best way possible,” said Mary J. Blige. “Getting to bring this home to NYC is something I won’t forget. Thank you to everyone who came out, to all my family who participated and to everyone involved, including my partners at Pepsi, who made this dream come to life. Until next year!”


The festival kicked off on Friday, May 10th with an intimate welcome party hosted by Mary J. Blige at Corner Social in Harlem. Guests enjoyed cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres, while dancing the night away to the sounds of Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex. The evening continued downtown in Greenwich Village at Blue Note with two sold-out jazz shows headlined by 5x GRAMMY-winning artist Robert Glasper at the legendary Blue Note. Taking the stage, Glasper  performed a medley of songs for the intimate crowd in attendance. The evening concluded with Mary J. Blige gracing the stage with Glasper where the pair shared anecdotes before leaving the audience with an inspiring mantra: “Each one, teach one, help one.” Additional notable celebrities in attendance included Tiffany Haddish, Tasha Smith, Rapsody, and Bryan Michael Cox.

“… purpose of empowerment, elevation, education, and equity … with inspiring …”

On Saturday, the morning commenced with over 4,000 attendees for the Strength of a Woman Summit held at The Glasshouse. The highly-anticipated summit kicked off with a motivational prayer from Tasha Smith and welcome remarks from The Breakfast Club co-host and comedian Jess Hilarious. The star-studded panels included “Girl Talk with MJB,” an  unfiltered conversation that celebrated the magical bond of Black women’s friendships with Mary J. Blige, and her celebrity besties Angie Martinez, Taraji P. Henson, and Tasha Smith. 

The summit also included an “Our Men Honor the Strength of a Woman” panel, a dynamic men’s discussion led by the cast of Starz’s hit series’, Method Man, Larenz Tate, Michael Rainey Jr., Da’Vinchi, and Mekai Curtis. Additional notable key speakers that contributed to the program’s captivating sessions included Marsai Martin, Pinky Cole Hayes, Crystal Renee Hayslett, Misa Hylton, Bevy Smith, Claire Sulmers, Simone I. Smith, Kim Kimble, Tunde Oyeneyin, and more. Co-hosted by comedian and co-host of The Breakfast Club, Jess Hilarious, and award-winning on-air talent, journalist, and podcaster, Gia Peppers, the incredible event, which was free for the public with registration, featured a total of nine panels highlighting the festival’s mission and purpose of empowerment, elevation, education, and equity to life with inspiring programming, pivotal panels, and experiences, focused on wellness, culture, finance and entrepreneurship, style, beauty, podcasts and much more.

The panels are only one star-studded component of the Summit. Activations included a tooth gem station by Get Gem’d, a myriad of memorable photo moments, and a lush build-your-own bouquet bar. Guests were also welcomed to explore “Mary’s Living Room,” a comfortable sanctuary featuring the varietals of the Sun Goddess wine collection, Sister Love’s bold jewelry designs, and the specially made Strength of Woman merchandise. Additionally, guests were invited to immerse themselves in the music and memories of Mary J. Blige’s “My Life” album in a custom listening booth, created as a special tribute to the 30th anniversary of the iconic album.

PEPSI®, the festival’s returning partner, offered Summit attendees delicious food, custom cocktails, mocktails and complimentary beverages at the Pepsi Dig In Village, capturing the diverse flavors of the major foodie city. Pepsi Dig In, the brand’s platform designed to drive access, business growth, and awareness for Black-owned restaurants, featured dishes from five female-owned restaurants: Slutty VeganHarlem’s Melba’s, 2 Girls & A Cookshop, Aunts Et Uncles and Je T’aime Patisserie.

Pepsi returned as co-presenting partner for the Mary J. Blige Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit, this time bringing our shared vision to elevate, educate and empower women to New York City – our own backyard and Mary’s hometown. Pepsi Dig In, the brand’s platform to support Black-owned restaurants, also returned to feature five local female-owned restaurants at the Pepsi Dig In Village to spotlight these businesses at the Summit to drive visibility and awareness to their incredible dishes. The weekend’s sold-out events and continued success is a testament to Mary’s impact,” said Kent Montgomery, Senior Vice President, PepsiCo Industry Relations and Multicultural Development.

Additional partners with onsite activations included Mielle Organics, who provided an onsite hairstylist and giveaways of their must-have beauty and haircare products, and Verizon Business, who invited attendees to delve into the brand’s suite of small business offerings while also enjoying complimentary charging services of their mobile devices. Additional sponsors for this year’s summit included ASCAP and Starz.

Following the Summit, New Yorkers flocked to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a concert headlined by newly-inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Strength of a Woman founder Mary J. Blige, with additional performances by 50 Cent, Jill Scott, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Lola Brooke, Honey Bxby, and Funk Flex. The evening was hosted by “the voice of New York,” Angie Martinez and kicked off with a special tribute to “Hip Hop Moms,” featuring Harlem’s Mama Jones (Jim Jones’ mother), Audrey Jackson (Pop-Smoke’s mother), Debbie Phillips (Jadakiss’s mother) and Athena Dubose (A. Boogie’s mother.) Rising sibling quartet, WanMor, made up of singer Wanya Morris’ four sons, surprised their mother, Traci Nash, by serenading her with the song “A Song for Mama,” made famous by their father’s group, Boyz II Men.

In between sets, Funkmaster Flex kept the party going with lively DJ sets that kept the crowd on their feet. Honey Bxby took the stage first, kicking off her set with “Basic.” Next up was Brooklyn’s own Lola Brooke – who started her set by thanking her mother for allowing her to pursue her dreams. Legendary rapper Jadakiss performed and surprised the crowd when he brought out Styles P and Sheek Louch of his group The Lox to perform three of their hits. 

50 Cent made a grand entrance as he was lifted onto the stage to start his performance. During his set, he performed the fan-favorite track “Big Rich Town,” and was joined not only by G-Unit’s Tony Yayo and Uncle Murda, but he also brought out cast members of three of his hit Starz series, including Michael Rainey Jr. (Power Book II: Ghost), Larenz Tate (Power Book II: Ghost) and Da’vinchi (BMF), while Mekai Curtis (Power Book III: Raising Kanan) surprised concertgoers by hopping on the drums during 50 Cent’s song “Hate It Or Love It.” 50 Cent made the days of a few lucky fans when he launched the Givenchy varsity jacket and orange leather vest he was wearing into the crowd.

For the main event, Mary J. Blige rose up onto the stage and joined 50 Cent to sing “Hate It Or Love It.” Throughout the evening, she performed her hits including “You Remind Me,” “Love No Limit,” “I Can Love You,” “Mary Jane (All Night Long),” “I’m Going Down,” “Still Believe In Love,” and featured surprise performances from Vado, A. Boogie and Method Man. The night continued with Jill Scott, Jadakiss, Fat Joe with special guest Remy Ma, and WanMor each performing their own sets for the crowd. To close out the evening of an already iconic night of performances, Blige returned to the stage – with her third stunning outfit change of the night – to sing some of her greatest hits, including fan-favorite “Just Fine” and “Family Affair.” If that wasn’t enough, Blige then shocked the crowd by announcing the long-anticipated “The Mary Boot,” her new boot collaboration with Giuseppe Zanotti, which is now on sale.

On the final day of the event-filled weekend, the festival continued with a sold-out Mother’s Day Brunch Experience hosted by Mary J. Blige, held at Brooklyn Chop House in Times Square. With sounds provided by Funk Flex and DJ Smooth Ski, the event featured a pre-fixe brunch menu for guests to enjoy. Notable attendees in attendance included Taraji P. Henson, Misa Hylton, and Mekai Curtis. Mary provided concluding remarks, including a quote from The Intruder’s classic hit song, “I’ll Always Love My Mama,” before wishing the excited audience a Happy Mother’s Day. Following the brunch, the festival made its way to the Brooklyn Paramount for an uplifting gospel concert presented by Femme It Forward, featuring uplifting performances by the legendary gospel group, The Clark Sisters and Jane Handcock, who opened the show.

This year’s festival expanded its footprint across the New York City boroughs, bringing the event’s purpose of empowerment, elevation, and education to life for the community.

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, Pepsi launched the Pepsi x Mary J. Blige Strength of a Woman Community Fund, with $100,000 available as grants to local organizations whose work elevates and educates underserved women in Mary’s hometown of Yonkers, NY. 

Photo credit: 1-11).  Antoine DeBrill/Ellen .



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