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!
Erica Campbell is switching things up in a big way, and the change is paying off in more ways than one. After over a decade of creating great gospel music with her sister Tina Campbell as the dynamic duo Mary Mary, Erica is going for the goodness and greatness that change brings by embarking on a solo career. “A Little More Jesus,” the first single off Erica’s upcoming solo album, was released last summer and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Song – and also has had folks buzzing about what’s next…And now the wait is over!
R&B music has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence as of late thanks to artists like Donell Jones, Raheem DeVaughn, Avant, Lyfe Jennings, Monifah, and Erica Campbell, who came together Sunday, August 4th at the Central Park Summerstage to perform in the WBLS R&B Fest. And what a show it was!
The first thing that struck me as I settled into my seat at B.B. King last night and waited for the Mary Mary performance to start was how many children —tots, teens and tweens— were out in full force with their families. The sight put a smile on my face and made me wish I had brought my own 15-year-old son to the show to experience the joy and jubilation that is Mary Mary. After all, he’s watched enough episodes of Mary Mary’s self-titled WE tv show with me to know that I love me some Mary Mary. I’m right there, watching and joining in on their triumphs as the Grammy-winning, Billboard-charting sisters continue to bring gospel music to the masses and break new ground. It’s no small accomplishment that they are the first gospel group to grace the main stage at the Essence Music Festival, have been featured on iconic magazine covers like Ebony, and have singers like VH1’s own K.Michelle performing their music. Like those who came out last night to see Mary Mary perform at B.B. King, I love Mary Mary because they love the Lord, and they make no apologies for singing his praises, sharing his word, and giving him the glory in all things — in good times, in bad times, and most certainly in great times.
For the fifth time in as many years, Mary J. Blige graced the Essence Music Festival stage last night in New Orleans. Galvanizing her legion of ravenous fans during a set that followed main-stage performances from Tank, Mary Mary, Ledisi and comedian Kevin Hart, even the ushers were two-stepping unapologetically; in between performing a number of hits that spanned her entire twenty-year career, Blige also made time to unleash covers of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and Charlie Wilson’s “Outstanding” for the Mercedes Benz Superdome crowd.
When the beat dropped for songs like “Real Love,” “Family Affair,” “Just Fine,” and “Not Gon’ Cry,” audience members took to their feet and assisted the sequin-clad star with lyrics and adlibs alike, creating an energetic exchange with their heroine that was, on more than one occasion, acknowledged by a grateful, “so pleased” Mary J. Blige. Read more…