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.
The duo, comprised of sisters Erica and Tina, have been singing God’s praises and sharing his word with the world since 2000 with their debut album Thankful (which won the sisters their first Grammy and birthed the mega-hit “Shackles (Praise You)”, achieving crossover success in the urban, R&B and hip-hop markets. Their message keeps getting stronger and reaching further, as witnessed with their sixth album titled Something Big releasing in 2011 and spawning the hit record “Go Get It.” Mary Mary greeted the seated B.B. King crowd with their opening song “Get Up” followed by “Heaven”. By the third song, “Go Get It,” much of the crowd were on their feet and mirroring the animated movements Erica displayed onstage, swinging and swaying in a manner that conjured up recollections of a lively and spirited Tina Turner in action.
The show was equal parts testimony and tribute, with sprinkles of ad-libbed humorous commentary thrown in for good measure. The duo’s performance of the song “I’m Walking” — which included a sample of CeCe Peniston’s 1992 dance hit “Keep On Walkin'”— had everyone dancing, including one server who limboed on the line that crossed professional and spectacle as he joined in the celebratory air of the evening with his own praise dance.
Tina expressed her thankfulness for the testimonies Mary Mary fans have shared over the years and how this sharing fuels their focus and fire to keep creating their signature brand of contemporary gospel music that touches and transforms lives. “Every single one of your testimonies matter to us,” she encouraged, “because if we are not changing lives it don’t mean nothing.” Life has been somewhat trying and tumultuous for Tina of late, who shared that she’s been doing a lot of crying as she seeks to recover and rebound from recent marital strife. Her husband Teddy Campbell, known for his work as a percussionist on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, revealed his infidelity to Tina and she subsequently went “Keke Wyatt” on him and tried to stab him, personal revelations which made her performance of “Yesterday” all the more poignant and powerful. Tina joked that her sister left her as Erica set up the performance of her recently released solo single “A Little More Jesus” but as Erica shined center stage, it was another moving moment made as we all watched Tina enthralled in the message of the song, shaking her head in agreement and appreciation.
[Photo Credit: Mary Mary]