I would’ve been happy just to be a bystander in the Big Morning Buzz Live studio taking in the soulful sounds of Erica Campbell as she performed the title single off her new solo debut Help this morning. But Erica made my morning even more special by sitting down with me just before her live Buzz performance to talk about her transition from being half of the groundbreaking gospel group Mary Mary with her sister Tina, to living out her childhood dreams as a solo artist. We also talked about her musical children, her ongoing battle with her manager, her dream collabo, and even what she prayed about this morning!
So your solo debut album, Help, was released just two days ago, on March 25th. And speaking of help, what did you pray for “help” with this morning?
Ew, help with my voice, that I not be tired because I only got three hours of sleep. And for peace because I lost my cell phone, so that means I can’t call my kids, or my husband, or look at my schedule, or any of that stuff (laughter).
How has the response to the title track of your album been? What has been the most powerful response?
People saying they needed the song. I see a lot of that on Twitter, people saying. “I needed that song this morning, this song gave me strength.” Everybody says, “This song gave me life,” that’s the new phrase, so a lot of people have said that, just to start their morning whether it be a mom, or a student, or someone dealing with a sick relative, a lot of people have said the song has blessed them, even up until this point, and it’s only been out a short while, so I feel really really good about that.
And your daughter Krista is featured on the single “Help” along with gospel artist Lecrae. Are any of your other children showing signs of musical talent?
Warren is my son, he’s three soon to be four and has two drum sets, he’s slightly obsessed with the drums and plays at very inappropriate times at home. But he’s happy about it so I let him do it, because I tell him that he’s practicing so he gets in the rhythm of knowing that practice is necessary. It’s not a very quiet house, but we’re training them up to be fully prepared if that’s what they want to do. Krista is in her room interviewing herself at all times, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, introducing… Krista!” Sometimes I have to lift up the sheet aka her curtain and pull it back so she can stand onstage. She has shutters in her room, so one time she called her daddy in to do the shutters because she was like, ” I need the lights to come on and off, so daddy when I start to sing move the shutters.” And then she even called me to pass out! She was like, “Mommy I’ma throw this to you. Pass out when I throw this to you,” and I was like OK! She’s getting ready — stage lighting, audience — she’s getting ready.
Are there any other features on the album?
No, it’s just me. I think when a lot of people come out they do a lot of features, and I’ve spent my whole career being heard with someone else, so I just wanted it to be me, my voice, what I wanted to say and sing. Plus, the process was so quick and so fast that I really didn’t have time to catch up with someone else’s schedule and see if they could get in the studio. It’s not easy to get collabos done with travel and scheduling.
Who would be your dream collabo down the road, for maybe your second solo album?
Let’s see… maybe Mary J.? Michael Bublé — I love him! I love all kinds of music and I like odd people… you’d be like, what?!
Has anyone ever told you that your performance style rings of Tina Turner? It’s fierce, it’s intense, and it draws people in.
I’ll take it! I love her. I think it’s important to show your strength when you’re onstage. And even in showing strength, there’s a vulnerability to that because it’s real real honest. So if the song is sad, you’re gonna be sad. But if I’m happy, I’m all the way there. And if I’m in beast mode, we all the way there. Like, I’m not playing with this song or this audience — you gonna take all of it. So sometimes that’s how I feel. I always tell people when they’re doing my hair that my hair is an accessory, so they have to make my hair so that it moves. I can’t do stiff hair, I can’t do ponytails, I need it, like my microphone.