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source: http://news.lycos.com/news/story.asp?section=Entertainment&storyId=350468

Blige Wraps U.S. Tour, Eyes Japan, Europe

Friday, March 08, 2002 7:52 a.m. EST


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Down the road from the site of her Grammy snub last week, R&B singer Mary J. Blige wrapped the first leg of her U.S. tour at the Shrine Auditorium on Thursday with a self-empowerment lesson in 90 quick minutes.

Eschewing most of the songs on her latest album, "No More Drama," Blige delivered a three-act set that began and ended on optimistic notes, "Love" and hit single " Family Affair ." During the latter track, she profusely thanked the song's producer, Dr. Dre , who was apparently in the audience.

In between, Blige traced the arc of a disintegrating relationship and eventual salvation, taking time to dedicate several songs to the female fans who could empathize with her pain. (In real life, Blige, 31, got engaged on Christmas Eve .)

Highlights included the unreleased gospel-tinged "Children of the Ghetto," which opened the second act, and both versions of "No More Drama," which opened the third act.

Blige's U.S. tour kicked off Feb. 5 in Poughkeepsie, New York , and will resume in late May or early June, likely revisiting some markets from the first leg, although the itinerary has not been set yet.

She plays eight dates in Japan, beginning March 13, and kicks off a 3-1/2 week European tour in Copenhagen on April 1.

"No More Drama," Blige's fifth album had sold about 1.8 million copies in the United States until last month, when her MCA Records label replaced it with a new version featuring new cover art and four new tracks. The 2002 version has sold 228,000 copies to date, and received a relatively modest 20 percent sales boost on the back of Blige's acclaimed performance at the Grammys last Wednesday.

She was competing for best R&B album and female R&B vocal performance, but was bested in both races by Alicia Keys .



Copyright � 2002 Reuters Limited.

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