Erica and Tina Campbell are pioneers in the contemporary gospel movement. Together, as Mary Mary, they have “pushed the envelope” in redefining the boundaries of Gospel, by blurring its ties to hip-hop and R&B music. Make no mistake, however, God is present in every song they produce.
From the groundbreaking success of “Shackles” to the genre-defying production of “God in Me,” Mary Mary has the rare distinction of finding a welcome home on secular and religious radio stations. The duo’s latest offering, The Sound, debuted in the #7 spot on the Billboard 200 and has remained on the chart for fifty-two weeks—a solid year! The album also remained in the #1 position on Billboard’s Gospel Albums listing for over sixth months.
As “God in Me” made its historic climb up Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, Eric and Tina Campbell managed to squeeze some time out of their busy schedules and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry—reflecting on “Shackles,” contemporary criticisms, and Proverbs 3:5-6.
I want to thank you for bringing gospel to the mainstream. Has there been a particular Bible verse or piece of inspiration that has served as the pillar of your music ministry?
Erica Campbell: I won't say that there's one particular thing. I thank God for little bits of things that I get. I may see some encouraging emails from a friend or the memorable portion of a message. My favorite scripture, however, is Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. I've held onto that. I look forward to God speaking to me through so many different ways and so many different people. I think that's what's kept me going. That and working with my sister and having my family so close, keeping us grounded and knowing that it's really about God and not about us. That's what pushed us. It gets a little rough at times, but knowing who you are – and whose you are – and what you're supposed to be doing, it keeps you focused. It keeps you moving and going.
Tina Campbell: Exactly. Knowing that you're actually here for a purpose. It's not just a hobby. It's not for the hype. It's not for the fame, but you're literally here serving a purpose. You're pursuing your actual purpose in life. I think this is part of me and Erica's purpose in life — to spread the message the way we're doing it to the audiences that we're reaching. I just think that's what God made us for, so, when you get discouraged and scared, just say, “This is for the birds. They can have it. I was born to do this. This is my responsibility here on earth. I've got to do it, until God says stop it.”