A Fine Line

Erica and Tina Campbell (Mary Mary)

Urban Contemporary Gospel or Rhythm and Blues? Religious or secular music? Which do you prefer? The line between the two genres is blurred because a multitude of singers has crossed over the line for many years. Remember Ray Charles? He drew a great deal of criticism for “messing with” God’s music by incorporating the gospel sound with his very secular and sometimes suggestive lyrics. As time ushers in so many changes in modern music, we find even more musicians are erasing genre lines. Yes, even between religious and secular music. Kirk Franklin songs regularly are played simultaneously on R & B and gospel music radio stations and shows worldwide. In addition, the same can be said for our featured performers, Mary Mary.  In the year 2000 their album “Thankful” was released with the single “Shackles (Praise you), hitting both gospel and secular charts and becoming a major crossover hit. Since their initial  hit the duo sister act of Erika and Tina Campbell has not stopped running. In fact, just last week Mary Mary released their sixth album “Go Get It”.  Like most of their releases, this album should be a hit with the growing Mary Mary fan base.  The critical acclaim has also followed the duo, which has received nine Grammy nominations taking home three, 2 American Music Awards, an NAACP Image Award, and a BET award. However, one of the things I admire most about Mary Mary is their successful balance of family and career. Erika and husband/producer Warryn Campbell just had their third child January 24, 2012 and Tina and husband/drummer Teddy Campbell are expecting their fifth child later this year.  Like many entertainers of our time, Mary Mary also have a reality show just signed on for a second season on WEtv. It seems that these days the reality show gives fans and potential fans and opportunity to view their favorite artists in a relaxed and intimate setting. In the case with Mary Mary, we are introduced to their close circle of influence including their parents, siblings and others. When musical trends start and are successful, they become precursors to more of the same. Mary Mary, having worked with T-Pain for God in me, plans to work with artists that are more secular in the future like rapper/singer T.I. These moves have not been without controversy while still proving efficacious. It seems like Mary Mary, and maybe some other similar acts to follow, will continue to work with a fine line between gospel and secular music.

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