Feature: Erica Campbell Talks New Album Help, Artistry and Ministry

Erica Campbell is a rare musical jewel. She has her own voice. Her amazing talent, her style, her anointing… and her unique approach to music, add a level of creativity and flavor to Gospel music, which is beyond what we have seen in a long time.

As part of Mary Mary, she amassed multiple Grammy, NAACP Image, BET and Stellar Awards, which alone, amounts to musical greatness. Yet, because of that, a number of people have tried to sum her up as just one-half of the dynamic Gospel female duo Mary Mary. However, Erica Campbell is so much more… and she has so much more to offer, than what the music community has experienced from her, so far. Her life is about ministry and musical excellence. Now, Erica is ready to take on the challenge of a new experience, where – for the first time – she will share her God-given gift with the world as a solo artist…, but not without God’s HELP.

For many Mary Mary fans, Erica’s decision to pursue a solo career path, was unexpected. Nevertheless, Erica is on a personal quest, and her goal is to continue the tradition of making music that’s beautiful… just as she always has. The music world received a hint of that beauty when Erica released the first single, “A Little More Jesus” from her solo project, HELP last year… and they began to take serious notice. When she released a second single earlier this year, “Help”, it became clear to everyone that to Erica, singing and ministry is serious business, and she is able to hold her own, whether with Mary Mary, or simply as Erica Campbell.

As a child growing up in a large churchgoing family, Erica’s parents shaped her musical destiny as she followed them, and assisted them on ministry outings. Her parents taught her well too. Little did Erica know though, that she was being trained and prepared for a life in ministry on such a large scale. Her parents didn’t verbalize what they were trying to do, but it was always through the action of what they did, and what they had Erica do. It was the lessons – in action – that prepared her for her future.

When her parents went to a church shut-in service, Erica went to the shut-in. When her daddy had to preach, Erica was there… usually singing before he got up to preach. When her daddy went to the prison to minister, Erica and her mom were with him. When her daddy would preach in some really rough parts of LA, Erica would go there too. She made full use of the opportunities presented to her… and always welcomed the challenges. The experience gained from those opportunities would later help her, as she began to tour as a background vocalist with various groups.

Now, after a lifetime and 13 years of professionally singing with sister Tina, Erica releases her debut solo album HELP… and takes a leap of faith out into unchartered territory with music that is eclectic, compelling, and at times risky. Yet, it is music which she hopes will bring faith, encouragement and confidence to listeners who are looking for something positive to connect to, in the midst of life’s most difficult moments.

HELP reflects every imaginable real life issue. On the project, Erica lays all her emotions bare on what she calls, “A true labor of love.” HELP is a parallel to Erica’s journey that she hopes listeners will use as a guide for their own.

It reflects that inner position that I was in … not only did I need help, I had help, and that was how I made it through – with the help of God,” Erica affirms. Last year, 2013… was a year of tests and trials for Erica. “There were some things that happened in my life that I felt would break me,” she says. But, “I am standing on my own two feet…, starting something new,” “I am turning the page… starting a new chapter, which can be kind of scary.

The reason is not that Mary Mary is not working; it is because a shift has taken place. Tina wanted to chill a little bit more… and I wanted to keep going, so I had to create something that would allow me to just do me. I didn’t want to go out as just one ‘Mary’ – a bootleg version of the group [so to speak] – trying to sing duo songs. So I created my own music, and I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the whole HELP album. The whole movement. I can’t wait for people to hear the whole thing.”

The songs on the album all point to the idea that you can overcome. Even if you have low or dark days, it’s knowing that when you’re in that space… you know that you’re not alone.

For sure, Erica is not alone, on her journey. No matter where she goes, when she goes or for how long she goes, Erica makes it a point to include her family in all of her musical endeavors. “My life is very busy,” she says. “If I don’t include them [family] in what I do, then I probably would be missing in action a lot. So I learned early on that [my] family is in ministry together. My daughter has been on the same stages I’ve been on. And I think the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” and I believe that they will be in ministry. So I’m trying to prepare them now for all that it entails.”

What’s great too, is the fact that the chemistry and connection between Erica and husband/producer Warryn Campbell is what makes her music shine. “It is always great working with my husband … whether we are at home or wherever we can always be creative,” said Erica. “When people who love each other do music together … that love, that passion makes its way in there. We have a passion for each other, for the art, and most importantly for the God we sing about.”

For Erica, that’s the message behind the HELP album. It’s a simple message to understand. Life is about moving forward. It is about looking to the future every day. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity. Therefore, Erica is not resting on past accomplishments, she is looking ahead. “I know I’m not infallible… I get broken at times, but I’m determined to win, she declares. I’m resilient. My drive and my will are so strong, and I’m so determined to do what God wants me to do. I know I cannot do it on my own. I need help. And GOD is my HELP. After all, He is “A very present HELP in the time of trouble.”