YONKERS, N.Y. Mary J. Blige was raised in the tough inner city of Yonkers, a lifetime of distance from the pomp and circumstance of next months Kentucky Derby, where the Grammy Award-winning rhythm and blues star will sing the national anthem at the 138th running May 5.
According to the Associated Press and a statement Monday from Churchill Downs, Blige will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Louisville track around 5:10 p.m., shortly before the event that draws top celebrities and wealthy followers of the nations most prestigious thoroughbred race.
Blige was born in the Bronx and lived in Georgia before her family moved to the Schlobohm Apartments in Yonkers, where she lived with her mother, older sister, five cousins and two aunts. She dropped out of Roosevelt High School in the 11th grade. Her recording of Anita Baker's "Caught Up In the Rapture" at a recording booth in the Galleria Mall in White Plains helped begin her singing career.
Blige gave back to her hometown recently when she opened her new facility, the Mary J. Blige Center for Women.
Blige has won nine Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards since her first album, "What's the 411" in 1992.