When it comes to lifting their voices in song, Grammy award-winning gospel duo Mary Mary send praises to the heavens. As sisters, Tina Campbell and Erica Campbell share a familial bond that’s prevalent in their Billboard chart-topping songs such as the hip-hop-infused anthem “God In Me.” ESSENCE.com caught up with Mary Mary to discuss the controversy surrounding their latest hit, how they have learned to brush negativity off their shoulder and being pregnant at the same time.
ESSENCE.COM: Congratulations on the success for your single “God in Me.” How do you deal with the critics who believe the sound is too secular?
TINA: It’s all good; you just have to brush that dirt off your shoulder. When we go into the studio we are very true to ourselves. Yes, we are aware of the trends, but we don’t force things or try to become something else. We write from our hearts and sing about what we believe in and stay true to who we are.
ERICA: I just keep praying for [the critics], because I know we stand in a long line of trailblazers. When the Clark Sisters started blazing it, they caught flack as well. You have to learn to take it all with a grain of salt; share some praise, talk, and give them a hug to show that there genuinely is no hate.
ESSENCE.COM: Maintaining a positive outlook is how it should be done. Has the criticism ever bothered you?
TINA: As new artists we were clueless and simply writing what we felt. We were uninformed and because of that, where did that song go? Straight to the dance charts. People want to put you in a box but I can’t let them direct who I am. I will share what I feel and pursue this vision the way God gives it to me.
ERICA: I did get a lil’ hurt and frustrated and thought, “these people are so mean and hateful.” I wonder if they heard any of the other songs on the records or did they just see Kanye West in the video and get upset? I won’t lie, it bothered me for a minute but I had to regroup. My sister and her husband were like, “Girl, if you don’t quit listening to that stuff and quit trippin’… Keep it moving.”
ESSENCE.COM: Just like the name of your bath and beauty product line suggests, BeU. Is it true that you’re also releasing a clothing line?
TINA: Absolutely, we are looking to launch it in January of 2010. “BeU,” the inspirational book, will come out before the beauty collection. Our principle is to be honest, be intentional, be strong, be beautiful–be you. We emphasize our personal stories and experiences, how we overcame everything by learning to embrace good and bad.
ERICA: We wanted to make sure it was right. Our clothing line, with the same name, BeU, is sporty, casual wear. It’s fly and fashionable, reasonably priced. We’ve been very engaged and are firm believers that we put out clothes girls would wear.
ESSENCE.COM: It’s important for you to stay in tune with the younger generation, especially when you’re a parent. Speaking of which, one of you are expecting any day now, right?
TINA: Yes, that’s me. Any day now. I’m expecting my first boy. Mary Mary are about family. We love our family and they are who we gain our strength from. We would never forsake the opportunity to add to our families because of our careers.
ERICA: And I found out about a month ago that I’m also pregnant and due in April. It’s funny because our daughters are close in age. Tina and I have always joked that we’re twins but just two years apart. But we cherish our family and we don’t allow trivial problems to destroy what we have. At the end of the day it’s family and they might hurt you bad, but you always forgive.