Mary Mary are now simply Erica and Tina. The gospel-singing sisters have had a long career together, but things have gotten pretty tense and the arguments are frequent. The time is right for them to go solo, and they're both doing so with a bang! Throughout their careers, the group have expanded the boundaries of gospel music. We talked to the ladies to find out how their relationship is doing post-Mary Mary, their projects, and their favorite things!
GGM: So it looks like the group is splitting up according to the show, but you’re still doing interviews together. How is your relationship right now?
Erica: Our relationship is great. Probably it’s in one of the best places we’ve been in a really long time! Any time you really allow somebody to be who they are and not try to regulate what we should be doing, then there’s a good relationship. I think the downside is that the fans only want to see us together as Mary Mary, so they’re a little bummed about it, but we’re good!
Tina: And excited every time we can get together! It happens periodically, but we enjoy it now more than we ever did, and I think it’s because we have the freedom to completely and totally be with our own decisions, own creativity, and we can finally pursue that. When we get together, we can appreciate each other more and not argue as much! (laughs) We like it.
GGM: Tina, your solo debut and book were just released. "It's Personal" (currently available on iTunes and Amazon) had an impressive Number 1 debut, and in a few days, you have your solo show, "An Evening with Tina Campbell. What has striking out on your own allowed you to do that you weren't able to with Mary Mary?
Tina: If I was busy pursuing Mary Mary, I would’ve never been able to experience any of this! While I was trying to heal from the devastations of infidelity, or while I was trying to heal from the devastations of Mary Mary, I was going through counseling, praying, relying on the faith that the world had for me. During that time, all this inspiration for music was coming to me, and it was music that was healing to me, speaking to me, encouraging me, because during that time I was healing, I was very discouraged, very dark, have more bad days than good. Music would speak to me, and I would sing myself happy! I would sing myself to a place of encouragement. I would sing myself out of a place of worry. I would sing myself to a place of hopefulness, and all of these songs are now songs I am able to share, and if I was busy on the road with Mary Mary, perhaps none of this would’ve come.
As for the book, I was writing a journal to God about who I thought he was, and who I could be through him, and how I wanted to be better in real life. It was never for anybody but me, and now I understand I was writing all that to heal, and I could give it to someone else to heal. I was writing the music and the journal to heal so that somebody else could do that when I was through it. If Erica and I were together trying to make our decisions in sync, trying to make sure everything we did was feasible, or smart, or beneficial, or enjoyable for both of us, we would’ve never gotten to what is fulfilling for us individually, or discovered what His plan is for us as individuals, because we’re not just two kids. We’re grown women with complete lives. We have something incredible to offer to the world together, but we also have something to offer to the world separately. This would’ve never happened had we been working to figure out what we had to do together, so I’m grateful!
GGM: Erica, you’ve recently released “I Luh God” is being called “Trap Gospel,” which is a genre I didn’t think I’d ever say. How’d this song come about?
Erica: That song came about because I decided to have some fun, and I do love God with all my heart! People usually see me and Mary Mary as polished, but sometimes I speak in a different dialect, and I just wanna say “I Luhh God,” and I do! It allows me to sing to a group of people who really don’t listen to Him for spirituals. I’m really excited about this song, and the video, which debuts June 10th. I’m so excited! Some people get it, some people don’t, and that’s fine, but there are a lot of people—a LOT of people—connecting with this song, and I think if you can change the conversation young people are having, cuz they’re singing about a whoooole lotta stuff and God is very far from the conversation. If the younger generation can start praying, I think it can only make them better, to start saying “I Luh God. You don’t love God? What’s wrong with you?” If you love yourself, it makes you think about life, and the Creator, and it makes you look at things differently. I’m very happy about it.
GGM: So obviously “I Luh God” suggests a set of influences that people might not think of when they think of Gospel. What are some songs you’re listening to right now?
Erica: First of all, I don’t know what “Trap” music is. I didn’t listen to trap music and start writing this song, I was just at my house saying “I Luh God,” and then put the music to it, and there you have it!
As for what I’m listening to? I’m listening to Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler, the Walls Group, Michael Buble, who I adore. I’m always listening to new music my husband gets that isn’t out yet too.
GGM: How about you, Tina?
Tina: I don’t know if I have an interesting answer for you because I have not been listening to any music since I’ve been making it! When we were in the creative process with Mary Mary, Warryn, our producer and Erica’s husband, would come in with the vision for our record and say “let’s write a song about this in this style,” and we would perhaps listen to music in that particular style. For the music I’m doing now, there was none of that. It all came to me literally while I was praying, reading the Bible, or just trying to heal. I’ve been in the studio all year either mixing, writing, talking with the producer, and when I’m in the car, I’m listening back to it to see how it turned out! The only other music I’ve been listening to besides mine is my sister’s because my kids require it! When we get in the car, they only ask to hear Mary Mary or Erica! They make me play “I Luh God” over and over!
GGM: What are some of your favorite albums of all time?
Tina: Oh yeah, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall is hands down my favorite record!
Erica: There’s a new one that I discovered named Nathaniel Bassey called Son of God and it literally changed my life!
Tina: And I have to say that too, I have been listening to his record! His record outside of Erica’s and my own is the only one I’ve been listening to. That’s my answer too.
GGM: Favorite reality shows?
Tina: I don’t really watch TV. Last night was the first time I watched an episode of my own show. I’ve been too busy! I did watch Mary Mary’s WATCHit last night and it was so funny! Erica’s so hilarious!
Tina: And I’ll say that if I had an opportunity to sit down, I will watch Duck Dynasty!
GGM: Favorite movies?
Tina: I like Coming to America, and I thought the new Cinderella was really good! I liked the colors and the costumes, and I thought the acting was brilliant. I guess that sounds goofy cuz it’s a Disney movie, but it was really good to me!
GGM: Favorite books?
Tina: I’m reading Pigs in the Parlor, which is a book about deliverance.
GGM: Favorite restaurant?
GGM: Favorite clothing brands?
Tina: I like Diane Von Furstenburg.
GGM: Last thing you splurged on?
Erica: Oo, there was a jacket I bought in Chicago at a store called ALLSAINTS, which wasn’t a huge purchase, but it’s a really cool jacket.
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