Mighty River

Album: Mudbound (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2017)

Songfacts®:

  • Mary J. Blige won critical acclaim for her role as family matriarch Florence Jackson in the Netflix film Mudbound. The movie tells the story of two World War II veterans who strike up a controversial friendship. The pair experience racism in rural Mississippi upon their return from the war. Blige's performance earned her a nomination for the Best Supporting Actress prize at the 2018 Academy Awards.
  • Blige was also nominated for Best Original Song for "Mighty River." She wrote the Mudbound theme tune with fellow hip-hop star Raphael Saadiq and his longtime collaborator Taura Stinson. Saadiq told Billboard the story of their collaboration:

    "Mary came by the studio and told us about the film. She basically sat down and gave us the scope of it. Her and Taura grabbed a pen, I grabbed the guitar, we sat down and we kept conversing. Going over and over the lyrics and the words. We just kinda sat there and put no pressure on anyone, but it was a lot of pressure. Mary was like, 'that's not it. That's not it.'"
  • Saadiq explained the song's river theme.

    "For me, I love songs that have something about a river in it. I grew up in church, and there was always a song about - a negro spiritual or I'd sing like, classical negro spirituals in high school, at my high school in Oakland, and you read about the Jordan River. People sing 'The Jordan River.' Then I started listening, a little bit further into my music school, I fell in love with Neil Young, and he used the word river. I always wanted a song that talked about the river. It's that simple. I'm a huge Al Green fan, and Al Green had, [sings] 'take me to the river.' You know. I'm a soul baby too. I just knew that this piece, this film, with Mary and Taura, we had to say something about rivers. They both looked at me very weird when I said that."
  • Blige sang this at the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony while scenes from Mudbound were displayed in the background.

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