Mary Mary's 12-Step Program to Success
- Tuesday, September 06, 2005
1) Start career with famous touring gospel musical and singing backup for big time R&B acts. Check.
2) Write songs used on the soundtracks for "Dr. Dolittle" and "The Prince of Egypt." Check.
3) Sign to a major label and release debut album. Watch “Shackles” become a global Top 40 smash hit. Check.
4) Win some Dove Awards, some Stellar Awards, a Soul Train Award and a GRAMMY for good measure. Check.
5) Release great second album, "Incredible," and avoid the vaunted sophomore slump. Check.
6) Go on hiatus. Check.
At this point, some artists might decide they’ve seen the mountaintop, move to the Bahamas and call it a successful career; but apparently Mary Mary isn’t that type of artist. With that said, the Campbell sisters decided that, instead of starting their own clothing lines or running their own record label like so many successful artists, they would do something truly daunting: Start families. Erica puts it into perspective, “We’re still at the beginning of our careers, and we didn’t want to wait until we did a million albums before we started having kids – you gotta take time for family.”
And while they admit to being a bit more tired, Tina, a country music lover, notes that other successful female artists such as the Dixie Chicks have already paved the way for working artists and mothers. The country divas may represent a surprising source of encouragement, but Tina and Erica ultimately look to their mother, who juggled nine kids and a position as choir director, as inspiration for making family work. “Both of us have asked my mom several times, ‘How did you do it?’ and I am completely convinced that God don’t make them like he used to,” Tina says in absolute awe. “I mean, maybe He does, but I guess I’m not one of the ones.”
7) Remember all God has done in order to keep perspective on career and life. Check.
Maternal humility aside, it is clear to anyone paying attention that Erica and Tina were blessed with their mother’s strength, work ethic and ability to stay the course through thick and thin. Tina notes, “Coming into this [recording career], we didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the platform we’d been given to bring music … to be ambassadors for Christ to the world.” She continues, “Now that we understand the responsibility of the ministry, the responsibility to bring great music to the world that will draw people closer to Christ, we don’t want to let things affect the process of our writing.”
And although they are focused on their part of the process, these hard-working women point to God as the One who set their course and kept them safe on their journey. Long before they ever saw an accolade or award, the Campbell sisters experienced their share of incredibly humbling events that continue to give them perspective and fodder for their music. On their new self-titled release, "Mary Mary," the ladies open with the thunderously funky “Believer,” a song of gratitude that recalls remarkable personal stories of survival. Erica recalls the life-altering family experience that helped to define their teen years. “We had a fireplace, and we always wanted to turn on the fireplace, but we didn’t know what we were doing. We would turn it on, and it would smoke, and we’d turn it off and leave. This time my mother had a sense that something wasn’t right.”
At their mother’s urging, the seven girls went to sleep at their aunt’s house that night, only to be phoned by the police to inform them of a terrible house fire. Erica adds, “I now know that it was the Holy Spirit leading her to have us stay somewhere else for the night.” In addition to surviving that fire, Tina also has a lot to sing about, having walked away from a car accident that flipped her car over. She now jokes, “That was my own little personal experience; God wanted to show me that he could save my life even if my mother and my sisters weren’t around.”
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