Essence Music Festival
  Previous ArticleNext Article

5 Questions: Erica Campbell on Her Solo Journey and Becoming an Author

Comments
Erica Campbell stops by ESSENCE to talk about her debut solo album, Help!.
Photo Credit: Michael Rowe

There is no denying that the Mary Mary sisters have had a rough year -- from infidelity issues to being chastised by the church for being too sexual. But is there anything that music can't get you through? Erica Campbell takes us through her journey while creating her debut solo album, the challenges she faced and how she made it through. Also, she shares what she aspires to do outside of music.

Why did you decide to name your new album Help?

It was appropriate for what I needed and the year that I had. 2013 was crazy. In writing the music, everything that came from me was in that vain. Needing help. It felt unfair. It felt like I was being picked on. But things happen in life. I understand that bad things do happen to good people. You get your heart broken. You lose people. But if you are a soldier you have to toughen up a little bit. You have to fight at some point. So Help didn't represent weakness. It represented realizing there was someone that I can call on. I said "help" because I knew there was someone that would answer, and that's God. You see the tear on my face, but you see the strength in my eyes.

Outside of Tina not being there, how is this solo project different from a Mary Mary album?

Musically, it's different. Even the instruments. It's ukuleles and harmonicas and stuff that isn't really identified with Mary Mary music. Mary Mary is a little more funky. My record is more churchy and rock and roll. Even folky with certain songs. I felt really free to be me. I felt so comfortable being able to sing my own words and think my own thoughts and make my own decisions because everything has been with Tina. Now it's all on me and I'm finding out so much about myself that I'm stronger then I thought I was. So much stuff I just let Tina do because that's her personality. So it's fun and exciting and I feel like I'm growing. It's crazy because I always wanted to be singer. Tina didn't get into music until her late teens, but when Mary Mary happened I thought okay maybe this was God's plan. I thought he had forgot about my dream, but he never forgets. It might not come when you want, but it comes.

I'm sure it was challenging to come from a group and put out a solo project. So what advise would you give a person who's in a group and wants to do a solo project?

I would tell them to make sure that they have taken care of the relationships they have with the people in the group. Be honest about what they want. Be honest about the time that you are going to be away and what you want to do. Some of the conversations that me and Tina had were really rough. If they have been apart of your music career and your music career is shifting, I feel you don't owe them an explanation but you do tell them what's happening so they fully understand.

Is there anything that the producers of your reality show aired that you wish they hadn't?

No. I wish the problem didn't happen. I wish that was different. I felt like the way we handled things can serve as inspiration for people to see this is how it happens and this is how it looks. This is how you hurt. This is the process of forgiveness. Sometimes you have to do this. Sometimes people challenge you and you are the one that hired them. You're paying them and then you want to talk to me like I'm crazy? I'm a very strong black woman. I'm only gonna stand for that for so long.

What outside of music to do aspire to do?

I am writing two books. One is called "Peanut Butter and Kelly." I just finished it and I'm super excited. It's a kid's book about love, life and relationships. The first story is about a kid's perspective on their parents getting divorced. The kids are asking each other how do they know their parents are in love. The little girl says "When they hold hands and give flowers. That's how you know their really in love."  So Peanut Butter goes home and his parents aren't holding hands and there's no flowers. So he goes back to school in a panic like, "Oh no they are getting a divorce," and thinks they are going to send him away. So he gets flowers from the garden and his parents still don't see it. They find him in the closet crying and his parents are like "What in the world is wrong with you?" And he tells them they are getting a divorce because they don't hold hands.

It's about parents being aware that their children are paying attention. That's where they learn their perspective on love and life, at home. I wanted my two daughters and my son, and my nieces and nephews just to have something that had a moral responsibility. It's not a christian book but it has a moral responsibility and I feel that's really important to give them that information when their young. But it's fun and cute. I'm looking for a publisher right now. The story is finished. We have an editor and an illustrator so I'm very very excited. That is coming along with my Erica Campbell luxury hair line.

Erica Campbell's debut solo album Help is available NOW!