Erica and Tina Campbell, the sisters that comprise Mary Mary, refuse to mince words when talking about reaching the lost. “We would tour with 50 Cent,” they say. “Whether it’s 50 Cent, Ozzy Osbourne or whoever, somebody will be drawn to Jesus. We’re never scared to stand for God no matter where we’re singing.”
The group’s third opus, self titled Mary Mary, finds the pair singing the same gospel funk that has earned them a GRAMMY, several Dove Awards, a Soul Train Award and more. It’s music inspired to encourage Christians and plant seeds in the mainstream. “We need to be relevant to the crowd, especially the people drawn to hip-hop,” Tina Campbell explains. “We’ve always been the gospel act at a hip-hop show. Everybody else is out there buck naked and we’re there singing ‘Thank You Lord’ to start our show. I believe God orchestrated and prepared us for that.”
While the duo is completely at ease with who they are, they still realize that some Christians may raise an eyebrow at their willingness to play with groups that sing about booties and Bentleys. “It’s the same thing they said about Jesus,” Erica Campbell says. “‘Why is He talking to prostitutes and drunks and the sick and the lepers?’ A lot of times Christians are so scared what people will say about them. We need to be getting out there, drawing somebody to Christ.”
While marketing staffs at record companies prefer their artists to concentrate on one demographic, these ladies really want their music to connect with all people. “Jesus is all things to all people,” Tina Campbell explains. “Jesus is love. Who doesn’t want love? It relates to all nationalities, all ages and all people. You might love the devil but it means you still love something. If we come out exemplifying the love of Christ, there has to be some connection with people.”
When watching shows like the GRAMMYs and the American Music Awards, one can’t help but notice the shout-outs to God upon winning. It seems especially prevelant in the secular urban community and almost irreverent considering the lyrics these artists are spewing. “If you thank God for the gift that He’s given, it’s cool because every gift, every talent is from Him no matter how you choose to use it,” says Erica Campbell. “I don’t really understand it, though, when they thank their Lord and personal Savior Jesus Christ when nothing in their life exemplifies that.”
Tina Campbell agrees: “With a lot of the urban artists, we hear things like, ‘I’m spiritual, too.’ I think to myself, ‘Spiritual versus saved — a little different!’ Spiritual can mean of any spirit. When they’re searching, they tend to say those things because they don’t know what else to say. I just hope there are enough of us out here to help give them clarity.”
While Mary Mary continues to make their presence known in the secular realm, they realize presenting the gospel in the mainstream has to be done with the same grace and patience that Christ showed. “I think it’s so important not to come off as ‘extra’ holy,” Erica Campbell chimes. “We can’t say, ‘My light is on, do you see it?’ Just be that person. People will see there’s something different.”
“One has to be wise to win souls,” Tina Campbell adds. “Hopefully, they’ll have a chance to meet somebody who truly exemplifies Christ — not in a judgmental way, but in a way that will reflect the light of Jesus.” Copyright © 2004 Christian Music Planet, used with permission. Read more at ChristianMusicPlanet.com!