The beautiful and talented gospel artist stopped by ESSENCE to talk about her debut solo album, Help!.
Photo Credit: Michael Rowe
Erica Campbell of Mary Mary isn't doing too bad. Her first solo album, Help
, debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard Gospel Albums chart last month, with first week sales totalling 23,000 copies.
With a burgeouning solo career, a hit reality show and 24-hour mommy duty, Campbell spoke to us about how she stays balanced and empowered while dealing with controversy.
How do you stay spiritually well?
Prayer, quiet time with God, and reading my bible. I'm actually going through the entire bible in six months using an app on my phone. It's amazing. It's all stuff that I've heard my whole life, but I hear it differently now that it's just me and the bible. I'm learning a lot; it's awesome and it keeps me in an even space when I'm busy and my days are crazy. And being God-centered from the start of the day helps you stay focused.
As a mother, you understand the struggles of trying to stay in shape. And even though there was a backlash with the white dress you wore, you looked amazing! How do you stay fit?
My regimen is like gumbo — there's a whole lot of stuff in there. I do different things because I like to switch it up. I do like to work out, but I don't like the gym. I like jumping rope, hiking, and climbing mountains. Sometimes, I'll even go to the backyard and play with the kids. I'll lunge while holding my daughter.
Speaking of the dress, we had Ledisi here last month. She mentioned your white dress scandal and she had your back! We spoke about women empowering each other and not tearing each other down. What do you do to empower and encourage other women?
I just think loving on people is really important. If someone shares some good news on social media, I'm the first one to comment, or I'll pull out my phone and send a text message! You have to care enough to be open and honest and giving. But be strong enough in who you are, and know [how to understand the difference between people offering criticism and being negative.}
But I dare not feel uncomfortable with my sexuality. God created sex and sexuality. I do not believe that it has to be negative. From a Christian perspective, take ownership of how God made you and you can still be beautiful and strong and sexy, and sexy is not a bad word.
At this year's festival, a large portion of our program is dedicated to youth empowerment. What kind of advice do you give to your kids to empower them?
I tell them not to worry about negative people and negative things. It's funny, my daughter was being teased at school, because, you know, she is brown and her hair is curly. And you know what she said to me? "Maybe the [bullies] aren't happy themselves. Maybe they have a bad situation at home so when they come to school they are just mean to other people." I was so proud of her for saying that. I didn't know what to do.