Artist Interview: Lamar Campbell

The Gospel Source: I know that you grew up singing and playing the piano at an early age. Talk about that experience and how it has influenced you as an artist.

Lamar: My earliest memory of sitting down to a piano and playing real songs was when my aunt bought a new piano, we were invited over…, and they [my family] said well, since you said you can play, we are going to see what you can play. And I sat down and started playing songs. They would make requests, and I would play the requests. I went on from there to study [music]. My mom made me take piano lessons.

TGS: By the age of 15, you were a music director as well. Who were some of your musical influences back then?

Lamar: It was cool, it was a new experience. But at the age of 15 I was learning and growing at such a rapid pace. I got hired at the age of 15 and started playing for the adult choir. At that time I was making $7 for church services and $7 dollars for rehearsals, so the grand total for the week was $14. And that seemed like a lot of money back then. It taught me a lot about being able to deal with older people in a leadership role. [I learned] a lot about being respectful, and also about dealing with people on a level that they could understand me, so I wouldn’t always be looked at as a child.

[Music] made me grow up early. I was put in a scenario with some good people, and they helped me grow… Actually, I helped them grow as well.

TGS: When did your role shift from being a musician to a worship leader and artist?

Lamar: From an early age, I always thought I would do something great to impact the world, but I had no idea it was going to be music. I remember being in the youth choir. The only reason I started singing at all is because none of the other tenors would sing. So I said, I’ll sing.

I started singing and I was always very passionate about what I was doing. And with my singing, even back then, it was very emotional and people would always respond to whatever I was doing. The passion and love I had for Jesus Christ was translating. I didn’t even realize what was going on, but I knew that when I started singing about or playing for Jesus… it really was the Holy Spirit. I knew I was anointed, and people were experiencing that.

I started pursuing academics in terms of being an accountant. Then I went on to computer science and I kept going from major to major.

Soon, I went back to my first love, which is music. I decided to study music at Butler University. During that time, when I made that commitment… I asked the Lord if He would allow me to do this on a professional level. [I promised God] I would continue to do music that glorified Him, that pointed people to Him… and I’ve been faithful in that area. And He has exceeded my hopes and dreams.

TGS: Now you have a new single called “The Power of Love” from your new project “Open The Sky.” Tell us a little about the song and what it means to you.

Lamar: I’m so excited about that single because I believe it’s so timely and with everything that’s going on in our communities and what we’re hearing on the news. Every time we turn on the news, we hear a bad report and it’s always something going on and it’s always negative.

We’re getting to a point where I don’t think people believe what they hear anymore. I think they only believe what they see. And what they see, they reproduce it. So I think it’s time for the people of God to really start bombarding the air waves with positive messages. Not just about Jesus Christ and things that are real religious, but about love.

God is love, and love is still the answer to every situation and every circumstance that people are going through. I think we’ve forgotten that, and this song [The Power of Love] is really to remind people that we’ve got to get back to putting love in our communities, putting love in our homes, putting love in our families, and putting love in the school system.

There’s a line in the song that simply says,

The same love that wouldn’t let Jesus come down from the cross still has the power to set us free.

Really, it’s that same kind of love, and it feels like we’ve just dumbed it down and it doesn’t have the power that it used to have. People always talk about grandma’s love and all that. We used to talk about that kind of stuff, but it’s like it almost doesn’t exist anymore. So that’s what this song is about, and that’s why I think it’s so important for people to hear it and to listen to it.

TGS:How would you describe the feel for this particular single?

Lamar: I think it’s reminiscent of the 40-voice choir, the signature style that we [Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise] started with. There are two Spirit of Praise lead singers, Michelle Bonner and Denise Clark, on the song. [Their voices are similar]. A lot of people think they are the same person. So I said let me put them both on the same song and finally let people figure out that they are two [different] people.

Michelle Bonner, people know her from singing “It’s All About The Love Of Jesus” and Denise Clark, you know her from singing “Closer” and “He Won’t Let You Down”. We really wanted to revisit that style. It’s got an 80’s kind of feel to it in a fresh way. We used all acoustic instruments. It has some Doo-wop in it, which takes you back to the Doo-wop days. It has some solid background parts. It can work as a group song as well as a choir song. It peeks at the past, because it takes us back into what the past was [musically]. That’s why I think it’s such a cool song.

TGS: Tell us where we can purchase the album and connect with you on social media.

Lamar: It’s available for purchase in all stores that sell Gospel music, and at all digital media outlets. You can also hit my website LamarCampbell.com. And if you want to follow me on social media it’s: @LamarCampbell1 on Twitter, Instagram is LamarCampbell.

If you can remember Lamar Campbell, you can get to me. The CD is actually a collection of songs and the title of the CD is “Open The Sky”. Hopefully people will reach out. I think it’s a collection of songs that will really bless the body of Christ.