From Oprah Magaizine:
Oprah: What brought you to that point? I know 9/11 was traumatic for you.
Mary: Yes. And Aaliyah had just died. [Recording artist Aaliyah's plane crashed on August 25, 2001.] My life was her life. She was surrounded by people who weren't telling her the real deal. We weren't close friends, but I'd talked with her a couple of times. I very well could've been the woman on that plane.
Oprah: It was your wake-up call.
Mary: Yes. I was doing a show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Kendu and I weren't married yet, and I overheard him say, "If Mary comes in this house drunk tonight, I'm gonna leave her." So during the performance, "I kept thinking, I'm going to go home sober and tell him I'm not gonna drink anymore." After the show, I received a call from the girl who always got the drinks and drugs. When I went to her house, she had the biggest bottle of wine she could find on the table. I took off all my makeup and just sat there. "You want a glass of wine?" she asked. I said no. I got up and left for home at 10 o'clock that night. Normally, I'd be stepping in the house at 4 in the morning. When I came in without alcohol on my breath, Kendu said, "I'm so proud of you." That same night, we got the call: Aaliyah was dead.
Oprah: Has your transformation compelled you toward a greater responsibility in your artistry and lyrics?
Mary: Absolutely. One reason I turned my life around is that I realized millions of fans were following my example. I don't want to be responsible for killing us. I want to be responsible for uplifting us. In the song "Family Affair," I sing about getting drunk....
From a different interview:
"MARY J BLIGE gave up her drink and drug-fueled lifestyle after experiencing the shock of fellow R+B star AALIYAH's untimely death.
The 34-year-old singer became paranoid about her own demise after hearing the ROMEO MUST DIE beauty had been killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001.
Blige explains, "She (Aaliyah) wasn't a close friend. It was just that when I saw her die, that's when I discovered the fact that I'm next. I don't know how or when, but I'm next.
"I don't know what kind of freak accident they're going to put me in, or what kind of overdose of heroin they're going to sort out, but at the end of the day, I knew I was next.
"I just thought, I'm scared."