Erica Campbell of the gospel recording group Mary Mary surprised the crowd at Rumsey Playfield in New York City with a performance Sunday night. Campbell took the stage after Jon B and before Musiq Soulchild, who was the headliner for the 6th Annual R&B Fest, which was presented by SummerStage and sponsored by WBLS.
Campbell performed her hit “Help” off of her debut solo album of the same name that was released earlier this year in March. “I know you’re used to seeing me with my sister but she’s home with her husband,” Campbell announced to the crowd. She also performed the Mary Mary smash “God in Me.” Though this was an event that featured secular artists, Campbell brought a little Jesus and church to the event, which was appreciated by many in attendance from the thunderous applause she received.
I spoke with some of the audience members after the night was over, and many talked about Campbell’s performance. “Erica Campbell’s performance was a delightful surprise that added to my experience at the concert,” said Selena Hill, a host on WHCR 90.3, “The Voice of Harlem” in New York. “Her performance was spiritually uplifting and added a nice touch to the concert.” S. Fields of Brooklyn, who works in investor relations at a Manhattan real estate firm, had similar sentiments. “Jon B, Erica from Mary Mary and Dave Hollister killed it,” she said, adding “the opening acts were great.”
Dave Hollister, a solo artist and former member of the group Blackstreet, also took the crowd to church, giving a testimonial that reflected the power of God in his life. “I was addicted to cocaine but I have been clean for 10 years.” Hollister, who also admitted to abusing alcohol in his past, said he couldn’t leave the stage without testifying what the Lord has done for him.
Jon B didn’t take the crowd to church, but he did get one of the better ovations of the night, reminding the crowd that he was bringing the R&B world blue-eyed soul before “Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke.” He ended his performance asking the crowd “Robin who?” Musiq Soulchild closed out the show with many of the hits from his catalog that dates back to 2000. It may have been R&B Fest, but it was a Sunday, and Erica Campbell and Dave Hollister made sure that the crowd was able to get their Sunday praise in.