We’ve known her for many years as part of a Grammy-winning duo. But on Tuesday, March 25, Erica Campbell will shed her Mary Mary persona and unleash her first solo album, Help. The album has already gotten amazing buzz and birthed two hits, the Grammy-nominated “A Little More Jesus” and the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs Top Ten title track that features hip hop impresario Lecrae. In this candid interview Erica Campbell talks about her debut album,
Erica believes fans will pleased with her album:
“I think they’ll hear my heart my confidence in God’s ability to be everything that I need, whether it is “A Little More Jesus or Looking Like”, I’m very proud of it , songs like “I’m a Fan,” “Changes” and the song I did for my dad (“Eddie”). It’s where I was; it was all from my heart. I hope that’s what people feel, as long as you use your heart.”
With this first venture as a solo artist, Campbell had a chance to express her individuality.
“I think it’s different from Mary Mary, because it’s just me. We’ve always had both of our voices mixing. Now it’s all me and my heart, my feelings, the way I see the world. I’m very optimistic, so that kind of made its way into the music. Even beyond my faith I try to see the best in people. I think that finds its way into the music and I’m hoping it kind of rubs off, because the world that we live in is pretty cynical, and for justifiable reasons but sometimes you can change it with how you feel and how you view the world. Everybody won’t change but there are a lot who will so I’m just trying to touch people and direct them to God as much as I can and hopefully, my album can do that.”
“Help” is a family affair. Of course, husband Warryn Campbell produced the album, but she also got a lyrical assist from Tina on “I Need A Little More Jesus ” and there are a host of other family members who made their contributions, including daughter Krista and mom, Honey. Campbell readily admits she had fun making the album.
“I absolutely did. It was great having that energy. There are a lot of songs that are very choir-esque with big background parts like ‘Power of God’ and ‘Help’ so we’ve got large groups of people. It’s good to have them there. It’s always been a constant in our careers to have family around so it had to be Tina, my sisters and brothers in laws, cousins. They all came to the studio and helped.”
Although it was exciting to go solo, Erica admits there were also some adjustments.
“It’s a little scary, a little because I’m always used to somebody being there. If I just need to go grab some water I know she (Tina) can sing until I finish, but now it’s just all me. I think it forces me to kind of grow up in some areas as an artist being responsible for everything and I’m liking how it feels. It’s allowing me to look at myself in a different way, grow up and be a bit more of a woman and do what God has gifted me to do.”
Mary Mary continue to play concert dates and Erica has noticed how her solo career has impacted her when she and Tina hit the stage. In a good way.
“I think it’s a different confidence, but also such a respect for what we’ve done. A respect for her and her voice and what it is that we do together. I mean after all these years, we’re on auto-pilot. We just come together and we don’t even miss a beat.
The past year has not been without controversy. When Erica revealed the cover for her single “Help” some were a little concerned and voiced those concerns about her white dress. The singer shared her feelings and amazement at the attention the dress received.
“I was a little surprised by it actually. I thought the most tasteful , felt comfortable in the dress I’m a black woman so I’m a curvy woman. I have three children and so you know I’ve been working out and trying to shrink and I did a little bit not a whole lot. I felt fine in the dress. I really can’t explain why they thought or how they thought, but I know that there were more people that liked the dress than didn’t like it. In our country and in our culture, the negative gets more attention; more press than the positive so people pay more attention to it than they did the fact that a lot of people really enjoyed the dress.
Four episodes in and the reality show “Mary Mary” is filled with fireworks and drama. Although some of the more uncomfortable moments of their lives are being played out on TV screens, Erica feels she and Tina made the right choice with their reality show.
“A lot of Christians, we don’t mind showing everybody when things are great and that’s the only picture we want to paint but most of the world the regular world are going through and if they don’t ever see how we go through then they’ll never have an example. Did I want my family to be an example I would have preferred to have a different kind of year. I wouldn’t have wanted to see my sister go through this. I didn’t want this with my father. I didn’t want to have changes in my management. I didn’t want to have to go through that, but since we are committed to living our lives out loud we believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to work it out for our good. That’s what His word says and I believe so even 5though things got ugly god will turn it around and it will work out for my good so we kept filming. If you keep watching the show you’ll see that he absolutely did. It’s not an easy journey but whose journey is easy. So yes we decided to live bit out loud and I’m hoping that it can in addition to our music being inspirational, hopefully our lives can be.”
They’ve already experienced the impact of their show on others.
“I heard some really great testimonies from people who were well into their 60’s and they said they hadn’t spoken for 4 years and so they saw the show the episode where Tina and I went to therapy and how certain things don’t work for us, not that we tried to change. They started talking as a result of watching the show. That’s like one of the best things I’ve ever heard. So people seeing us, being a part of our lives, understanding that in the body of Christ there can be examples even on how to go through certain things.
And what about the revelations of infidelity by Tina’s husband?
“I think the best part of Tina exposing what happened was the fact that she says that I’m going to try and forgive. That’s not usually what we hear, ‘yeah we’re going to get a divorce so pray for me and pray for him, let’s go our separate ways.’ But she didn’t that she was going to forgive, forgive us our debts lord as we forgive our debtors both. Most of us pray every night, but we don’t exercise that often. So I think the show has allowed us to be an example of what it looks like to live out your Christian walk one day at a time. Other than just seeing people on Sunday and everybody’s dressed so pretty and their hair is all nice you don’t know that they’re broken, bitter or hurt. So you see us cry, you see us go through some pretty hard stuff, but you see us keep going.”
With the release of Help on Tuesday, March 25, Erica Campbell has officially realized her dream. And she has some advice for others contemplating stepping out and realizing their dream.
“I would say don’t be afraid of what people will think. Don’t be afraid of what people will say. If it’s a God-given dream and it’s something that you know that you’ve been called to do, then do it. As long as you’re prepared and skilled and have the right team, go for it. Don’t let nobody tell you nothing different. You cam make it, you can win, you can succeed, you can turn the page to a whole new chapter and still be excellent.”