Since blazing onto the scene almost 15 years ago as part of Gospel outfit Mary Mary, Erica Campbell has gone on to achieve global success and awards aplenty.
Now, the soul-filled songbird is embarking on a journey of her own. Literally.
Today marks the global release of Campbell’s hotly anticipated solo debut ‘Help’, which is preceded by singles ‘A Little More Jesus’ and the title track
That Grape Juice caught up with the star, who dished on flying solo, her WE tv reality show, the future of Mary Mary, and much more.
Our interview with Erica Campbell awaits below…
Erica Campbell Shouts Out That Grape Juice
That Grape Juice: Hi Erica, how are you?
Erica Campbell: I’m well Sam, how are you?
TGJ: I’m good! We definitely have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hop right into it. “Mary Mary” (the reality show) saw its season 3 debut to amazing ratings for WeTV! How exciting is that for you guys?
Erica Campbell: It feels pretty awesome. We were quite candid and open this season, very vulnerable. The fact that people are paying attention still keeps us excited.
TGJ: We see things have already started off with a bang, but what else should we expect from the rest of the season?
Erica Campbell: Ooh…make sure you have a seatbelt, helmet, and a sedative. (laughs) It gets pretty crazy, but I will say none of it is scripted. It is all our real lives and what we had to face. We’ve always been willing to tell the truth and we did just that.
I do believe, in the end, God gets the glory in all of it. You will still get to see Him shine through us.
TGJ: Amen. People underestimate how real reality shows can be. Can you tell us about a moment where things got “too real” for you?
Erica Campbell: I don’t want to give it away. But, anybody who has had to deal with infidelity, you will understand there is no easy journey to forgiveness. My sister had to deal with it, but she is committed to forgiveness. But, honestly, she didn’t know how dramatic that process would be.
It all plays out on the show and it’s not always pretty. I think a lot of people will see themselves in that effort of trying to be better. In the process, you see my family trying to support her [Tina] and see her still try to keep going to inspire others, despite having a broken heart and broken home. Then, there’s my challenge of trying to support her while having my new [solo] venture. I was unsure if I should keep going, but she supported me. She never told me to stop.
Add in the loss of my father and you will see it was just devastating. It was just a reminder of why we sing the songs we sing. Those words helped us during those times.
TGJ: Absolutely! Because you’ve shown us everything from health scares to infidelities, what do you say to critics who say maybe Mary Mary is showing too much?
Erica Campbell: I’m not embarrassed by my life nor do I feel inhibited by my ups or downs. So, the reason I am ok with showing the downs is because I know I won’t be there forever. It makes total sense.
Now, you’ll understand why I am so thoroughly convinced that God is able to do and be everything I need. I’d tell the critics to just keep watching.
TGJ: Yes! Now, let’s shift gears and talk about music. We’re loving “A Little More Jesus” and the album’s title track “Help”, but tell us more about the sound and direction of the entire body of work.
Erica Campbell: The sound is very diverse. There are laid back songs, there are Michael Jackson-esque songs, and more. It’s urban and it’s real music. It’s a beautiful collection of songs that I love.
You hear that I was broken, but I refuse to stay broken. A lot of people need that as they listen to music. This music acknowledges brokenness, but offers reminders that you don’t have to stay broken. I can’t wait for people to hear it.
TGJ: We can’t either! But, why now though Erica? Why do you feel now, at the height of Mary Mary’s fame, is the best time to launch a solo career?
Erica Campbell: It was just the time to do it. We’d talked about it for years and, because Tina wants to be home with her family, I was encouraged to go create my own sound. I didn’t want to just sing Mary Mary sounding songs with “one Mary”. I’m really excited.
It takes a lot of courage to stand on your own when you’re so used to standing beside someone. Because, every decision over the last 13 years has been joint. Now, I get to just do me.
TGJ: Any idea on the next single?
Erica Campbell: I don’t know. I’m not even sure what I want it to be. I’m still on “Help”. (laughs)
TGJ: So, with all of this Erica Campbell-mania, does this mean more solo projects for you in the future with the occasional Mary Mary project?
Erica Campbell: Yes, there will be more Mary Mary projects – probably in 2015. Tina is writing a book and doing different things, so we’re just taking a moment to grow individually.
So, when we do come back, we’ll be stronger. When you have a baby, then an album, then a baby, then an album for 13 years, the people need a break. We needed a break too!
TGJ: You mention Tina is writing a book and doing “different things”, but is music one of them?
Erica Campbell: It actually is! She didn’t plan it, but as she was writing the book, she said there are songs that go along with. So, you may be getting some Tina Campbell music pretty soon.
TGJ: When can fans expect to see you on the road?
Erica Campbell: I’m on the road a lot. I have a show in Washington, D.C. at Howard Theater, then in New York at B.B. Kings (April 2nd and 3rd). From there, Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, and more.
TGJ: To round things out, we know you’ve been asked about Tina and Teddy’s marriage a million times: so let’s put a twist on it. On the show, you alluded to “knowing what Tina was going through”. As such, could you lend advice to couples going through similar problems?
Erica Campbell: I would say…you have to do the work. It’s easy to walk away, but assess if there is real value there. Listen to your heart and not society’s position on infidelity. If you are married or committed, forgiveness should be an option. The road to forgiveness is not for the faint of heart.
But, if you really love a person, you should go for it. Also, assess how you got there. We are so quick to throw the blame that we don’t see what all parties did and the state of the relationship before the infidelity happened.
TGJ: To round off, we’ve seen you conquer movies, music, and now reality TV. Is there anything left that you haven’t done that you want to do?
Erica Campbell: Of course, there’s always more to do! I just want to continue inspiring people, especially younger people. It’s real easy to feel lost, so if my music can inspire people in this life, then I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
I want to help people and help them understand God loves them.
Bonus: What is Erica Campbell listening to?
Erica Campbell: I love Pandora. I listen to Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, but I also love Tye Tribbett and all types of music. I love pop music to standards and big bands!
Interview by: Sam & Rashad (That Grape Juice US)