Mary J. Blige is becoming a wine connoisseur and diversifying the industry in the process.
AfroTech previously reported that the R&B singer-turned-actress and businesswoman debuted a new wine called Sun Goddess Wines last year.
Now, according to Rolling Stone, Sun Goddess, an Italian wine with two varietals (so far), is part of Blige’s efforts to help diversify the notoriously monolithic wine and spirits industry. But more than just launching her own vanity brand, the music legend has joined forces with Reserve Bar to launch their newly-formed Spirited Change Initiative as an investor.
Other investors in the initiative include Sean “Diddy” Combs and Thirty Five Ventures, the investment firm founded by Brooklyn Nets star and newly-minted Olympic gold medalist Kevin Durant and his longtime manager, Rich Kleiman.
Mary J. Blige is not only one of the few Black people in the wine and spirits industry, but she’s one of the few Black women in the industry as well.
“I feel very close to the work of SCI because I understand what it’s like wanting to have your voice heard when people won’t listen,” she said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “I’ve been fortunate in my career to be surrounded by peers and women who lift me up, and this is my chance to do the same for others.”
According to the Spirited Change Initiative, minority-owned and women-owned alcohol brands make up less than five percent of the sector. In response to this disparity, Spirited Change Initiative says it will be committing $5 million through 2024 to the diversity effort. This $5 million will be used for marketing purposes, and to give minority-owned and women-owned brands a platform.
“Launching during a pandemic wasn’t how I imagined the start of this new venture, but the success so far has completely surpassed any expectation I had, and we’re not done yet!” said Mary J. Blige.