Mary Mary Interview
|© Copyright 2010 MannaScript LLC
Reproduction or republication without publisher’s written permission is prohibited.
By Shamerra T. Brown
The Sisters Dish on Mother’s Day Treats, Their Bath & Beauty Line,
and Late-Night Bible Class with Warryn Campbell!
Sound Check with Mary Mary
For Erica and Tina Campbell, first things always come first on their bottom line: the Father’s
business and family matters. At first glance, they may appear to be carefree and occupied
with bumpin’ beats and vivid expressions of their styles; but peer in a little closer and you
might get a revelation. With a music ministry soaring by the minute, the sisters Campbell still
make it a priority to surround themselves with family, connect with supporters, and most
importantly, spend time with God -- and compromise is not an option.
From “Shackles” to “Yesterday” to “God in Me,” they've keep us groovin’ and inspired, and
the ladies remain at the top of their game -- literally. Their latest recording, The Sound,
continues to rest comfortably atop the Billboard Gospel charts; and this year they celebrated
their second Grammy win, along with one of the highlights of their lives -- singing at the
White House for President Obama. The siblings also returned as judges for the second
installment of Sunday Best. But, in light of all that shine, they insist on keeping Jesus Christ
front and center and their families not far behind.
Watching Erica and Tina tend to their children was a delight. They brought the little ones, all
under age 6 (Tina is pregnant with baby number three), their gorgeous mother, Thomasina
Atkins, and other family members along for a Mother’s Day concert. Behind the scenes, the
duo effortlessly switched from professional to mommy modes, always with a watchful eye on
their offspring. The children were rather charming -- Erica’s daughter, Krista, offered me one
of her black marbles and introduced me to her cousins; while Tina’s daughter, Laiah, wanted
to know if I liked her dress.
After the show (also featuring Pastor Shirley Caeser and James Fortune), Manna and the
Marys assembled for a yummy session filled with laughter, angelic singing and more
Shamerra T. Brown: Happy Mother’s Day. So what did you get?
Erica Campbell: I got flowers, a bowling ball and some shoes! [Laughs hard]
Shamerra: From Krista?!
Erica: [Still laughing] No, from my husband!
Shamerra: Ummm ...
Erica: [Laughing, still] He’s been trying to buy
me a bowling ball forever. It didn’t work for my
birthday, which was a week ago, and so he was
like, “How about Mother's Day?” That’s what he
really wanted to do, so I got a bowling ball.
Erica: Yeah, but see, I got a Gucci bag for my
birthday two weeks ago so, aaaaay …
Erica: It’s alright ’cause I can bowl -- with my Gucci bag! [Laughs]
Shamerra: Well alright! And, Tina, what about you?
Tina Campbell: [Recovering from laughing at Erica that whole time] My husband wrote me
the most incredible poem I’ve ever received, and he got it printed and put it in this incredible
Shamerra: Oh he tried to outshine the bowling ball situation.
Erica: [Laughs] I got a bowling ball.
Tina: You know what, I usually get these incredible bags and shoes and stuff on Mother’s
Day, and they’re all great; but I will probably never remember anything like those words that
came from him. They were just beautiful and make me want to keep working hard to be a
Tina: And I brought it with me, also. Yes, I sure did, I put the plaque right in my computer
bag, and it’s sitting in my hotel room so I can look at it.
Shamerra: Well that’s just sweet … [to Erica] a bowling ball!
Erica: [Laughs] But I did get roses today!
Tina: [Laughs] And my 5-year-old wrote me a card today and it says: “Laiah Campbell loves
Mommy.” And it had an “e,” a heart and a star. And she says, “The ‘e’ is because you do an
excellent job taking care of me, the heart is because I love you, and the star is because
you’re the star of my life.” So I was almost crying. I said, “You know what, Laiah, I will tickle
you for one hour like you want, ’cause you just gave me motivation and inspiration with this
Shamerra: She likes for you to tickle her?
Tina: Jesus! I can’t tickle the girl for five minutes. She wants me to do one hour at a time,
and I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why it’s not finished within 10 minutes.
Erica: My daughter made up a Happy Mother’s Day song -- but it sounded a lot like “Happy
Tina: [Laughs] Oh she plagiarizes a little bit!
Shamerra: [Laughs] What’s going on with the Be U bath & beauty line?
Erica: Well, we went through a few transitions, changed manufacturers, and it’s actually a lot
better. We are still releasing it, but you know, it has to be the right time, and sometimes,
deals, they are what they are …
Tina: When we changed manufacturers, of course we’ve got some new conditions of the
contract, we’ve got to reformulate some of the scents with different chemists and all that kind
of stuff, so it’s really a time-consuming process in terms of the preparation for it. If it’s a
product that you really put your whole complete effort behind, as opposed to stamping your
name on it, it takes a lot of time to develop it, so we’ve got a little more developing to do --
Erica: Yeah, maybe we’ve been a little excited …
Tina: Well it was on the brinks of coming out last year. Then there’s was something that was
just not so great about the deal that popped up at the last minute. So, do you try to meet the
deadline, or do you do it when it’s right? We decided to do it when it’s right, so we pulled it
Shamerra: So it may be out later this year?
Tina: I’ll say the latter part of this year, or top
of next year.
Shamerra: Sounds good. What are you studying?
Tina: John. I’m almost finished with it. You know,
I’m studying Jesus’ life and the road to the cross.
And just remembering that sacrifice and all the
specifics of it …some good stuff in John!
Shamerra: I know, I’m in the same book. I’m just
in Chapter 4 though.
Tina: Mmmm, girl, there’s some good stuff in there!
Erica: My husband started seminary, and it’s funny. It’s really great, but we have these kind
of sessions at night where he just kind of goes over what he learned …
Tina: It’s church, and he’s her pastor!
Shamerra: With one member.
Erica: Yeah. I’m definitely his number-one member … his only member! But it’s so great,
because it’s something that we do together and I feel like it’s bonding our relationship. It’s
definitely building us stronger in the Lord, and I’m looking at him through different eyes. This
is not the same person he was when we first got married. I mean he was saved, but who he’s
becoming spiritually is amazing to me. And to be able to study with him … you know, we
[would] pray together before in our marriage, but we didn’t have like a set thing. And now,
our Bible time is becoming a set thing. I’m so excited about that. And sometimes we share
stuff with Krista … and it even changes the way I worship and pray by myself. I’m like, wow,
God. ’Cause you know, most women are praying [for their marriage] … but to see what’s
happening as I watch him … and he gets so excited about it: “Look at this, babe … and in
Isaiah … if you connect this …”
Erica: I’m like, people would not think that this is the same guy … digging in the Word like
this, but he’s really serious about it. He makes me get on my p’s and q’s a little bit more!
Shamerra: [Laughs] OK, first lady.
Tina: [Laughs] I just have to insert this: It’s hilarious when I call her and she’s like, “I can’t
talk right now, I’m listening to Warryn preach.” [Erica and Tina laugh] “I’ve been listening to
him preach for the last 15 minutes and he hasn’t let me out of church yet!”
Erica: [Laughs] Yeah well, sometimes it’s 12 at night and he hasn’t let me out of church yet.
Tina: [Laughs] She’s stuck at the church at midnight!
Erica: I’m like, “Yeah, baby, Jesus is … but can we get back to Jesus in the morning?!”
Tina: “I just want to wrap my hair!” [Laughs] He’s like, “Hold on, let me check my [Scripture]
Erica: [Laughs hard]
Shamerra: [Laughs] You’re in some unusual places for your tour. I know there’s criticism
about Mary Mary being too much of this, not enough of that. But one of the things I
appreciate about you is that whatever the platform or environment, you two do not inhibit
yourselves regarding the cause and the name of Jesus, or proclaiming Him as your Lord
and Savior, and drawing others in. With all your mainstream achievements and after so
many years, it’s evident that He remains the whole point of it all.
Erica: I’ll tell you, what we’ve been doing lately is really trying to get into unorthodox venues.
We do a lot of churches, conferences and stuff like that. But what we want to do is go places
where un-churched people are. You know, people come if they like Gospel [music], but they
don’t necessarily love Jesus the way they need to love Him. So we’ll come and offer what
you would get when you go to church, but in a Mary Mary kind of way, and I love it because,
not only does it draw people in, but to me it speaks volumes to promoters and venues and
lets them know the value and the capacity that Gospel artists can carry in these kind of
Tina: Yeah, and I think the fact that we like to “rock out” on stage … and not just rock out in
the sense of doing anything insane, but we lose ourselves on stage. Like, we go out there
and we have fun. We’re running, jumping, flipping, laying on the floor --
Erica: Crying! [Laughs]
Tina: However we feel, we go with it. So, people are not usually expecting that big, huge
performance concert kind of experience with Gospel artists and that’s kind of who we are.
And so, I think when people see it outside of a church setting, they’re attracted to that
portion of it, and then they like the music and they like the beat. But you know, wherever we
go, my grandma used to sing a song, “Take the Lord ’long with ya’ everywhere you go.”
And wherever we go, He’s coming, so you’re going to get Him, like it or not. We gon’ give
you “God in Me,” we gon’ give you “Shackles,” we gon’ give you “Yesterday” and all of those
songs that give you goose bumps and all of that, but we’re definitely going to impart some
Jesus into the place, wherever we go. So, it’s great for us to go into settings that are not
churches because that’s our commission -- to go out and tell somebody who doesn’t know.
Or, they may think He’s cool but they’re not connected like that. Well, let’s help you out.
Let’s go ahead and get connected.
Shamerra: Excellent outreach. How was it for you, to get your second Grammy this year?
You hadn’t gotten one since the Thankful album. Then comes The Sound …
Erica: [Singing in angelic melody] Aaaaaah!
Erica: It was amazing.
Tina: To sum it up in one word -- fantastic.
Erica: But you know what, it’s not like every time we missed it we were like, dang. I mean you
always want to win, but it was something that went along with the feeling of doing this
Shamerra: This one was really different.
Erica: Yeah, it was. I don’t want to kind of say I knew, but we were sitting there kind of
Shamerra: I knew. See, the first album was “it,” but I must say this one is "the one."
Erica: [Laughs] Yeah!
Tina: You know, you never can be too sure. I went into one awards ceremony and we did
win it. But I realized it when some interviewers were asking questions and I sounded kind of
sure, they helped me see my “sureness,” and I was like, [to myself] “You have gotten beside
Erica: God will show you yourself!
Tina: You can come in here and sell 50,000 records and somebody can come in, and sell
six records, touch the right people and they will get your award, so do not get beside
yourself and think you’re more than you are. So, I brought myself down, and now I go into
every awards show hoping, praying and maybe wanting, just never sure … but I did feel kind
of confident about this record. I felt it was Grammy-worthy.
Erica: We went to the Image Awards two weeks later and we were sitting there. And I didn’t
even know that I did it, but when they got to my award, I put my program down and I put my
purse down [Laughs] and I look at Tina and she’s on her Blackberry, and I’m like, “They’re
calling our category!” [Laughs] and when we won, she was trying to shuffle stuff … I was
ready, she wasn’t!
Erica and Tina: [Laugh]
Shamerra: [Laughs] Be ye also ready! Ladies, thanks so much for the time.
Erica: You’re welcome.
Tina: Thank you!
Much thanks to God, Gale Allen, Crystal Crawford, Ricky Derae and Lori McNeil -- it took the entire village
for this one:))
Tina, Shamerra and Erica gather for a smile break after a super-busy day.