In 2000, a fashionable and relatable Gospel duo called Mary Mary hit the music scene like a breath of fresh air. With hits like "Shackles" and "God In Me" it was easy for the contemporary R&B and hip-hop crowd to groove to their jams. And as the duo released more album, they forced Christian music to grow with them, dragging some critics unwillingly into the future of faith-based art.
Now Erica Atkins-Campbell and Tina Atkins-Campbell will be honored at the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience in New Orleans on July 8 and we couldn't think of anyone better to celebrate. Let's take a look back at Mary Mary through the years.
So I Can Dance
Mary Mary, comprised of Erica Atkins-Campbell (L) and Tina Atkins-Campbell®, released their debut single “Shackles” in 2000. Boasting a fresh take on Gospel music by mixing standards with contemporary flavor, the sibling duo’s edgy fashion also reflected their fresh style.
Growing up in the church in their hometown of Inglewood, California, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, the pair realized their artistic strength lie in putting their voices together.
Mary Mary’s debut album “Thankful” hit shelves in 2000 and was initially snubbed by some Christian music critics for being too contemporary. However Tina, the fiery Mary, shared this with naysayers, “It’s definitely contemporary. It’s music that everybody in any style of music can relate to. It’s universal, but the lyrics are undeniably Gospel.”
GP Are You With Me
In 2001, Mary Mary joined the ranks of Gospel’s elite when they collaborated with veteran musician, composer and songwriter Kirk Franklin for the “Kingdom Come” film soundtrack, which starred LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Here is the duo rehearsing with Franklin on the set of the video for their cut, “Thank You.”
Photo by Arnold Turner/WireImage
In The Morning
2002 saw the release of Mary Mary’s sophomore album “Incredible,” which held the hit “In The Morning.” The LP reached no.1 on Billboard’s Gospel Albums chart, no. 10 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and no. 20 on the Top 200 Albums chart.
God In Me
In 2008, Mary Mary’s fifth album “The Sound” dropped, touting the hit single “God In Me,” featuring Keirra “Kiki” Sheard. Boasting pop-hop stars like Kanye West and then girlfriend Amber Rose in the video, the ladies pierced pop culture yet again. The track also garnered the girls a Grammy for Best Gospel Song in 2010.
Put It In The Want Ads
In 2005 and 2006, the Campbell sisters released two consecutive albums, “Mary Mary” and “A Mary Mary Christmas,” respectively. Spurred on by their single “Heaven,” which samples a bit of Honey Cone’s catchy “Want Ads,” the self-titled album reached no. 4 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and the single sat atop the Gospel chart for nine weeks.
In June 2006, Mary Mary performed at the sixth annual BET Awards with Kirk Franklin and statuesque legend Yolanda Adams. Adams originally worked with the sisters when she recorded two songs they’d penned for her called “Time To Change” and “Yeah” 1999 album, “Mountain High… Valley Low.”
“Walking,” the duo’s first single from their 2011 album “Something Big” hit radio in fall of 2010. The mid-tempo track peaked at no. 3 on the Hot Gospel Songs chart.
Make a Joyful Noise
Here are the sisters, performing at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards in March 2011 in their hometown of Los Angeles. Mary Mary have won two NAACP Image awards, including 2009’s Outstanding Gospel Artist trophy and 2010’s Outstanding Song trophy for “God in Me.”
The girls have also won ten Stellar awards, two Mobo awards, one Soul Train award, two Lady of Soul awards, seven Dove awards, two BET awards, one ASCAP award, three Grammy’s and two American Music awards.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards
Go Get Your Blessing
In 2012, Mary Mary entered new territory by parlaying their reality show experience, gleaned from judging contestants on BET’s “Sunday Best” gospel competition, into a self-titled WE TV show. The series, debuting in March 2012, follows the sisters as they manage their careers and large families and all of the business in between. Collectively, Tina and Erica, married to Teddy Campbell and Warryn Campbell, respectively, have seven children between them and one on the way (Tina’s pregnant).
To cap off the show’s popularity, the Campbell sisters released a greatest hits album entitled “Go Get It” in May 2012, which featured two new songs, “Sunday Morning” and “Go Get It.”