Mary J. Blige‘s marriage to record producer Kendu Isaacs attracted significant attention in the 12 years they were together. The Grammy-winning singer’s relationship with Isaacs came at a time when she was ready to accept new love into her life.
Mary J. Blige met Kendu Isaacs because of Queen Latifah
Blige first met Isaacs over two decades ago. She was in a tumultuous relationship with Jodeci singer K-Ci through most of the 1990s, and was wary of entering into another relationship with a man.
“I was doing a Queen Latifah record in 2000,” Isaacs recalled in a 2009 interview with Essence. “We were like, ‘We should put Mary on this.’” Latifah reached out to Blige’s people, but Blige was on tour, and could only make time to record during a tour stop in Detroit. “[Latifah] and I flew to Detroit, and Mary came into the studio around 3 in the afternoon,” he remembered. “That was the first time we laid eyes on each other.”
They all went out later that night and got to know each other better. Months went by, and Isaacs begged Latifah to reach out to Blige to connect them again. Eventually, Blige gave him a call, and she realized quickly that he was different. “It was the first conversation I had with a guy that let me know somebody cared about me other than wanting to just, you know, sleep with me,” she said.
Mary J. Blige and Kendu Isaacs’ marriage
That phone call changed the course of their relationship forever. At one point, Isaacs told Blige something that resonated deep within her spirit.
“I said to her, ‘I need to talk to you about some things. It might hurt.’” Isaacs said. “And she immediately said, ‘I don’t want to be hurt no more.’”
“I said, ‘Well, it’s not going to hurt in that manner. It’s almost like you have a cut and it has created a scab, but underneath it’s infected really bad. So the pain is going to come from pulling back the scab so that we can get to the cut and heal it properly,’” he told the Grammy-winning singer.
Blige was taken aback. “It was something I never heard before, and I got exactly what he was talking about, because I knew that I was damaged,” she said, “but those words from Kendu woke my spirit up.”
“There was something so fatherly and confident about him,” she said. “I think I fell in love with him then but got scared because he was the type of man I’d never seen before. He had this, ‘I can take care of you, I can make you feel safe’ thing. And I needed that.”
The two tied the knot in an intimate ceremony in 2003 and were married for 12 years. She referred to him as her knight in shining armor and the love of her life.
Mary J. Blige and Kendu Isaacs’ divorce
Blige eventually filed for divorce in 2016. Court documents obtained by People magazine detailed the infidelity and use of her money that led to the end of their marriage.
“No one wants to go through this, and this is hard,” she told Robin Roberts in an interview on Good Morning America. “It’s important for any woman going through a divorce to keep control of their finances.”
Blige’s divorce was finalized in March 2018 right before she attended the Academy Awards as a double nominee. She admitted in a 2021 interview with Harper’s Bazaar that the divorce made her stronger because it made her reflect on her own relationship with herself.
“After so many years going from album to album, making the wrong decisions, making mistakes and everything just going downhill — it wasn’t until 2016 when I got out of that divorce that I realized I’ve got to stop looking for love in people and making these mistakes,” she said honestly. “Until you love yourself the right way or learn how to develop that self-love, things are just going to keep going bad. That was pretty recently when I really caught on.”
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