(Photograph: WE tv)
Erica Campbell is not afraid to admit she needs prayer just because she is a gospel singing sensation, and after overcoming a traumatic year in the public eye she is showing people how to turn to God for Help.
Campbell, 42, has Grammy, AMA, ASCAP and Image awards among others as a member of Mary Mary. Now she is forging her individual path with her debut solo album, "Help."
However, the road to releasing her first solo effort was paved with obstacles in 2013 including her father's death, a ruptured vocal chord, parting ways with her manager and helping her sister and fellow group member Tina overcome marital infidelities publicly.
Instead of folding under pressure, Erica followed God's calling and channeled her experiences into "Help," an eclectic album that she hopes reaches people even if they may not know God.
"I just want to reach as many people as possible. I want people to be ok with asking for help," Erica told The Christian Post. "A lot of times we let our ego get in the way and we don't ask not only God but we don't ask anybody for help. And we suffer silently, and it's not necessary."
Erica's new album showcases her individual suffering and vulnerability in songs like "Eddie," where the singer pays an emotional tribute to her late father who passed away last year. With different sounds like guitars, harmonicas and ukulele the Mary Mary group member makes her mark as an individual in "Help," with some unique production and heartfelt stories that branch out of the traditional gospel music sound.
"The messages are kind of consistent with the year that I had in 2013 and everything was directing me to God knowing that I would make it through, that I wouldn't stay there long," Erica told CP. "Everything in Mary Mary had been me and Tina. Now it's just me, my voice and opinions."
Still, Erica is still very much a part of Mary Mary and will record at least two more albums as a part of the gospel music duo with her sister Tina. While her sister has taken a break from music, the pair currently appear on WE tv every Thursday night for their self titled reality television series, "Mary Mary."
Although Erica is focused on getting the word out about her new album, she is also publicly supporting her sister Tina who has been vocal about her husband's infidelity in various interviews and on their television show. Erica does not seem to mind that people are focusing on her sister's marital issues while she is promoting "Help," and does not hesitate to sing Tina's praises instead of her own.
"She took all the sting out of all the bloggers, all the haters and naysayers. The people that were whispering, she told you what happened," Erica told CP. "Nobody wants to have to be the example but she is one and she's a good one..God must think my sister is awfully strong to let her go through this in front of the whole world."
Outside of the public eye, Erica admits that it has been tough going through such a hard time with her sister. However, she is amazed at how God has had a hand in the situation.
"I've gone to her house, just sat there and didn't say a word because she didn't feel like talking. I've taken the kids to my house and turned it into a fun weekend because she needed some time to breathe and kind of assess things, I've really seen Tina and (her husband) Teddy dig in and try to make right what has been wrong," Erica told CP. "I've seen them praying and fasting and going to therapy. Some good days and some bad but watching it is amazing because it lets you know that God really is able to do everything."
While the Campbell sisters do not let their children watch the "Mary Mary" show, Erica admitted that it is impossible to shield them from everything. The singer was forced to address Tina's marital issues to her 9-year-old daughter, Christa, who saw an EBONY magazine cover where her aunt was candid about her husband's infidelity.
"She asked, 'what's an affair?' I said 'it's something really serious, when you get a little older mommy will share it with you,'" Erica recalled of the conversation with her daugher. "That was rough because I kept trying to hide the magazine but it was everywhere we went, even in the grocery store. So I had to address it."
Tina seems to be positive about working on her marriage these days, but the group has been forced to deal with another turbulent relationship on and off screen. The pair parted ways with their manager Mitchell Solarek and Erica admits that she is not happy with the heated exchanges that took place with him on her show.
Still, she insists there was more to the story than cameras showed viewers after a recent episode showed a heated argument.
"After that day, I sent him an email and I said we can make this right. We can tell them don't air that, we can have this conversation again and try to do it over and try to do it right," Erica told CP. "And he didn't respond to me. I saw him later and apologized. We made an attempt to have a conversation but it didn't happen."
While Mary Mary has moved on to new management Erica admits, "It is hard to watch because everything doesn't have to go that way. You can have a disagreement but still be agreeable."
With all of the changes, surprises and obstacles that she faced in 2013, Erica is positive that God will help her get past another issue that arose last year concerning a ruptured vocal chord. Fans will begin to see just how the vocal issue arises on the show but Erica is confident that faith will help her get through it during a grueling promotional schedule.
"God is a healer. I'm not worried..actually I'm getting better," she told CP. "So I am working hard, getting better, talking to my doctor and being smarter about what I do. I make sure that I'm my best."
The devoted wife and mother of three kids ages nine, soon to be four, and two, may have just started her solo career, but she shows no signs of slowing down with plans to share children's books, a luxury hair line and more music with fans in the near future. In spite of a grueling year, Erica insists she is grateful to be in her position.
"I really love Jesus and I'm really really grateful for what I do. I don't take it lightly," she told CP. "It is never my intention to offend people but I know sometimes they get offended. I just hope that they hear and see my heart in the things that I say and the music that I sing..The real purpose is to reach people for Jesus."
Erica's Campbell's debut album, "Help" from My Block/eOne Music is currently available online and in stores now. Mary Mary's self-titled WE tv series comes on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
For Erica Campbell updates, follow @ImEricaCampbell.