Gospel music pioneers Mary Mary want young girls to celebrate the unique person that God created them to be.
That’s why they penned the book “Be U: Be Honest, Be Beautiful, Be Intentional, Be Strong, Be You!”
“We have a lot of sisters and female friends and we came across people who didn’t want to be themselves so we wrote a book to celebrate the good in young people,” said Erica Campbell, 37, from her California home. Her younger sister, Tina, couldn’t participate in the interview because she had laryngitis. The two are internationally known as Mary Mary, one of the hottest groups in gospel music history.
The manuscript, scheduled for release in April, encourages young girls to find the true beauty that lives inside them by showcasing their natural beauty and celebrating their God-given talents and uniqueness.
“We believe there is an evil force that shows people that they are less than and this can be damaging and people just need to be able to overcome that. We want the girls to be able to move forward and enjoy themselves and love themselves. We are just saying ‘Be You.’ I hope this book will serve as a help for kids to find God and become closer to God and become a morally sound person.”
Mary Mary burst onto the gospel music scene in 1998 with a song in the “Prince of Egypt” soundtrack.
Three short years later, the blockbuster hit “Shackles” introduced everyone to the songbird sisters. The song hit number one on the billboard charts and quickly solidified the their place in Christian music.
Following the success of “Shackles,” Mary Mary continued to produce solid and uplifting gospel songs. Albums “Mary Mary, Incredible” and “Mary Mary: Thankful” have won the sisters Dove, Grammy and Stellar Awards. Their most recent project, 2009’s “The Sound,” produced the chart-topping mega hits “Get Up” and “God In Me.”
“Our longevity in this business is through God’s grace. There’s always someone who has music that will reach an unchurched audience. That’s definitely the position that Mary Mary holds,” Campbell said. “Growing up we didn’t look at people who didn’t go to church any differently from those who did. When it comes to our music, our music is for everyone, Everyone needs to know that God loves them.”
That love is what Erica and Tina’s parents, Thomasina and Eddie Atkins, have constantly instilled in all their nine children. And that’s what Mary Mary ultimately sing about in their music.
“I always knew I wanted to be a singer,” Campbell said. “My mom was a piano player and my dad sang. Tina is a perfectionist. She thought she was going to be a music teacher or a makeup artist.”
Their stage name of Mary Mary comes from the two Marys in the Bible—Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdalene.
The sisters hope the name show’s that God’s love is extended to all.
Both are married. Erica has been married to Warryn Campbell for eight years. She is the mother of a daughter, Krista Nicole, and will soon be a parent of a son. Tina is married to Teddy Campbell. They have been married for nine years and are the proud parents of Laiah, 5, Meela, 1, Cierra, 15, and a new baby, which Tina bore a few months ago.
When the sisters aren’t wowing audiences with their God-anointed voices, they enjoy the time spent with their families.
“I like to cook, watch television and hang out with my husband and daughter. I like to watch ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and ‘Desperate Housewives.’ I am a channel surfer,” Campbell laughs. “Tina isn’t a television person. Sometimes when we meet famous people, I’ll be like ‘Oh my goodness, there’s so and so’ and Tina will ask who is that? She has no clue.”
Earlier this year the ladies lent their voices to “We Are the World 25” to help raise money for Haiti.
“I was standing next to Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand. It was amazing,” Tina recalls.
The sisters are currently working on their Be U clothing line, which is scheduled to debut in Wal-Mart stores this fall. The line will feature T-shirts, hoodies, jeans and other clothing for women and young girls.
In addition, they are also working on a new album and developing a Be U bath and body line.