There is a well known quote by Lou Holtz that says, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” A person can be remembered—famously or infamously—by how they respond during their greatest trials. It is for that, where Erica Campbell, excels and shows her “true self” to be a woman led by the strength of her faith.
“The time I remember going through difficult days, I was in my early 20s,” this week’s co-curator of The Playlist shares with me via email. “I had life decisions to make and there was a song called ‘He’s Preparing Me’ with the Wilmington Chester Mass Choir, and Daryl Coley singing the lead. That song encouraged me to my core with the line, ‘He’s providing me with what I will need to carry out the next matters in my life,’ and I knew that what I was going through would help me get to where I am today.”
Where the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and Urban Gospel radio host is at today is immersed in the power of faith and dedication to ushering others through these trying times. “I believe God’s truth makes its way in so many different areas of life [and] that God speaks through all people,” Campbell says. “A song of faith is rooted in the Word of God. It’s rooted in a Biblical truth that can’t be denied.” And in a time where faith is in great need, these selected songs by this gospel legend and your favorite audio adventurer is affirmed by the love of the Creator.
“God’s Word says you are fearfully and wonderfully made,” Campbell offers. “You have to affirm yourself in the faith and don’t worry about the tribulation because God’s already given us the victory in every situation. “In order to maintain the faith, rest in what He says, declare what He says, and when you begin to lie to yourself, know that we’re not in this by ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth!”
With those blessed words bestowed upon the ESSENCE family, allow us to share these “songs of faith” rooted in love and truth. May these selections show that there is a difference between a “good song” and a God song.
1. PJ Morton — “All In His Plan” (ft. Le’Andria Johnson & Mary Mary)
PJ Morton‘s “All In His Plan” kicks off Erica Campbell’s first pick in this week’s The Playlist. “[We had an] amazing collaboration with PJ Morton, and the incredible voice that is Le’Andria Johnson,” she says via email. “[There’s] so much love and passion in the vocals on this song. ‘All In His Plan’ reminds us all that what we go through, we’re going through for a reason. We’re going to learn or grow or be better from what we’re experiencing in life.”
2. Jonathan McReynolds — “People”
Award-winning singer and BET’s Sunday Best judge Jonathan McReynolds has been hailed as the “leaders of the new school of gospel,” and broken new ground to bring the sound to the masses. The title track from his 2020 effort, People, arrives in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic and highlights the emotional trauma that humans inflict on each other. Directed to listeners to help them shift their focus back to God, “People” is a message-laden song that will have you feeling the light and love of the Creator through your speakers.
3. Juan & Lisa Winans — “It Belongs to Me” (ft. Marvin Winans)
Erica’s next song choice speaks to faith directly. “It’s all about knowing what God said and claiming it even though sometimes you haven’t seen it yet and maybe you feel like it’s taking too long to see it,” the Urban Gospel radio host says. “[Juan and Lisa Winans’] ‘It Belongs To Me’ kicks the devil in the face! I know what’s mine! And it never hurts to have Marvin Winans on the song. His voice is just golden and anointed [laughs].”
4. Gaidaa — “Falling Higher”
It is no secret that I love Gaidaa and her otherworldly sounds. After breaking out with “Morning Blue,” the Dutch-Sudanese sensation reaffirms her bold demeanor on “Falling Higher.” Undeniable and unique, Gaidaa sings about holding on for dear life, but trusting her vision and the manifestation that comes from giving into the journey. If that isn’t asserting faith in one’s self, then hold on tight, press play on this one and brace yourself for a beautiful and profound experience.
5. Kem — “Love Always Wins” (ft. Erica Campbell)
For Erica’s third pick, she continues the R&B-esque vibes with this beautiful number by her and Kem. “I’m happy to do this collaboration with Kem because it’s true, love always wins,” she says. “‘Love is patient, love is kind, it suffers long’ – that’s what the scripture says, and I believe that with my whole heart.” The touching track between these two singer-songwriters is a match made in heaven, since, as Erica tells Essence, “Love is a living and breathing thing and it always wins.”
6. Marvin Sapp — “Undefeated”
Marvin Sapp‘s “Undefeated” follows on the elevating and potent anthem, “Thank You For It All,” and proclaims God as the champion and savior of the world. The 11-time Grammy Award nominated, 24-time Stellar Award-winner has always been led by the Divine and with his latest and greatest offering, he explores just how God covers us all, wherever we are, with light, hope, and strength.
7. Trilogy — “Jesus Loves Me”
We round the corner for ESSENCE’s The Playlist with Erica’s fourth pick, “Jesus Loves Me” by Trilogy. She shares more by saying, “I heard this song, took a deep breath and said, ‘Thank you God for loving me’.” “This song is so beautiful, so sweet, and yet so simple. They didn’t over-sing it. They just realize, recognize, take a moment and just breathe in the fact that Jesus loves us just as we are. The wonderful thing about the love of God is that you won’t stay the same once you’ve encountered and experienced His love.” In other words, let this song bless your life!
8. grouptherapy — “blackout.”
With shared experiences as kid stars, grouptherapy has gone from pop-rap protégés to one of music’s most inspiring new collectives. The LA-based quartet have delivered in a major way with “blackout.”, the second single from their there goes the neighborhood. mixtape. As this country feels thrown more and more into chaos, grouptherapy’s “blackout.” offers insight on how to traipse through the mulch and thorns to see the greater purpose within.
9. Aaron Lindsey — “Take Care”
The last pick for the wonderful Erica Campbell is a close-and-personal one of sort. “My friend, Aaron Lindsey, is a musical genius first of all,” she shares about the architect behind “Take Care.” “This song is birthed out of a place of pain, actually needing to take a moment for yourself. Self-care is so important and necessary. Most of us are so busy taking care of our business, people, and everything else, we leave ourselves last.” With “Take Care,” Aaron Lindsey‘s track reminds us all to put ourselves at the top of our list to stay healthy and connected to the Creator.
10. L. Spenser Smith — “The Cross Alone”
In closing this week’s offering, L. Spenser Smith’s “The Cross Alone” is a revealing and effortless weaving of words to melody, making it the perfect song to carry with you into the weekend. Marked with beauty and savviness in each verse and octave, Smith’s first RAM-distributed album, Hooked, will have you feeling exactly like that as you let this audio testimony play on repeat to drive evil (and Trump supporters) away in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.