Erica Campbell has been one half of the gospel duo Mary Mary for over 15 years. In 2013, she embarked on a Grammy Award-winning solo career and released two albums. She also stars in and executive produces her reality show “Mary Mary” which airs on WE tv. Rolling out caught up with Campbell before her gospel show sponsored by the American Stroke Association in Chicago to talk about her solo career, her television show, and Mary Mary.
How have you enjoyed being a solo artist?
I have totally enjoyed being a solo artist simply because I have been able to grow. When you are with someone, you learn a lot. Standing on my own two feet has been the best part. You begin to question yourself sometimes when you are in a group. I am quite sure of myself now. Now granted, I wish the reasons for going solo would have been different. But regardless, sometimes God has to shake your foundation in order to move you and I think God is shaking my foundation, and I’m so glad he did.
What have been the biggest successes and challenges of being a solo artist?
The upside and the downside is that I am doing it by myself. In a group you share all the responsibilities, the interviews, the stage. So if you need to take a moment, there is always somebody to lean on. From a physical perspective, I had to retrain my body to handle the whole show by myself. It’s a little scary and you have to condition your mind because everything that you are and everything that you do starts with what you think.
What is your favorite Erica Campbell song?
I think it’s “Eddie,” my song about my dad. It’s something I thought about doing my whole career with Tina. We touched on little parts but not a whole song. So to do a whole song for him after he passed was tough. But it speaks my truth of who he was.
Where is Mary Mary now?
Mary Mary is still together. We have about four or five concerts this year. I know people are watching the show and freaking out. But we are sisters. Sisters who love each other in real life. We know our music together is a great ministry that changes lives. The thing is we don’t want to rush just because everybody is asking for it now. Because to say I have to do it because they are asking for it speaks to the fact that you kind of believe they are going to stop asking. But God put us here and he is going to tell us when it is the right time. It’s going to be convenient for her and convenient for me and we’ll get it done. We love the Mary Mary fans and we really love singing together. So it’s coming …
So we can expect an album in 2017?
Well, I don’t want to go that far. I’m telling you probably. There is new Mary Mary material now. There are five songs that we have done that are great. For the album, the timing has to be right. The label has gone through changes as well. It’s not just us. Presidents of the label have left and the people who handle our music all left. There are a lot layers that go into making a record. On TV it looks like you just go in the studio and you put it out. Oh no, it’s a much more complicated process than that. And we are very big on doing it right.
Your television show, “Mary Mary,” has become incredibly popular. What do you attribute that to?
From the voices and comments the people, they love it and I’m very proud of the work we do. Tina and I are executive producers on the show so we get to see the edits and the cuts. We know what’s going [to happen] and we approve of what goes on the show. So there aren’t any big surprises. I do know that when you do a show, you don’t want to watch in episode one that everything is going to be OK. There has to be a beginning, middle, and an end. You identify the problem, how you are going to deal with it, and how it will be resolved. So that’s usually what it is — at least on our show. And we are committed to telling the truth and committed to making sure they don’t cut out the resolve, especially if it includes prayer, forgiveness or redemption.
How has the show helped you grow?
It’s been a growing experience being in front of the camera and learning about the business and all of the politics of how things work. It also help me learn how to work well with others. You can’t do good business if you don’t work well with others.
You and your husband, Warryn Campbell, appear to have a really good relationship. How do you keep it going?
Honesty. The reason I think we are still in love is because we are honest. We are honest when things start to shift, we are honest when we need some face time. I’m honest when he gets on my nerves and he is honest when I am getting on his. My commitment is to him but it is also to God. I stood before God and I said for better or for worse, so I have to stick with my commitment. I know I have a good one so I put the work in. We pray with each other and pray for each other. I give him space, he gives me space, and we just have a good time. I like him, he makes me laugh, he makes me smile, he challenges me and he pushes me. He’s not nice all of the time when it comes to work but I know he is pushing me to be better.
You and Warryn have a church. How do you enjoy your new role of first lady?
You know what, I am enjoying being a first lady. I did not think I would. Initially,I had a rough time. First, we started with bible study and I was a little hesitant. And then Warryn was like we are going to start the church and I kind of blew up. I said, I didn’t sign up for this. I said I have a producer as a husband, not a preacher. My life is what it is and we enjoy this. This meant we would have to be at the church every Sunday. But then I said Erica that is the wrong attitude. You are going to be mad because God called him to something. So I had to put myself in check and pray and apologize and repent to my husband for my bad attitude. He said it was okay and I told him we are in this together. We have a bunch of amazing people in our church and I’m thrilled. I did not think I was going to enjoy it this much and I really do.
What are you appreciative of?
I appreciate of my fans for sticking with me. Even when I went solo, I know some folks were mad. But team EC stuck with me and I’m very appreciative. I hope through this work I encourage, motivate and uplift. That is all I want to do.
Follow Erica Campbell on Instagram and Twitter @imericacampbell. Watch her show “Mary Mary” on Thursdays on WE tv.
Click here to read more about Erica Campbell.