Mary J. Blige admires how Amy Winehouse was “so free in her expression”.

The 43-year-old nine-time Grammy Award winning singer still mourns the death of Amy, who passed away at the age of 27 in 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning.

Mary has dealt with her own addiction issues in the past and she appreciates how the late British singer infused her struggles into songs like Tears Dry on Their Own.

“She had a lot of pain, a lot of joy, a lot of struggle, trying to figure out ‘Who am I’? And she was just so free in her expression,” Mary revealed during an interview with UK newspaper The Observer. “She said whatever she wanted to say – and that’s what I admired about her. She was talking to you: ‘It is what it is – like it or not.’”

The star is so moved by Amy, she decided to meet the singer’s father Mitch this summer.

“I didn’t know Amy. I never got a chance to meet her. But it was one of the things that I really wanted to do,” Mary recalled.
“I wanted to give her a hug and tell her how much I love her, and how much people love her. Just tell her how awesome and amazing I thought she was.

“It was like he gave me the chance to hug her through him. He gave the best hug! But it was sad, too, because it was the anniversary [of Amy’s July 23, 2011 death]. But I watched him be strong and try to tell it and hold back tears, and I was holding back tears.”

Mary has spent most of the summer in London recording her new album, which is entitled Mary J. Blige: The London Sessions.

Several UK artists like Disclosure, Naughty Boy and Sam Smith appear on the record and the songstress made it a point to honour the rich culture of Britain’s capital city with this LP.

“I wanted to embrace the [London] culture. To embrace Amy,” she shared.