My interview with Tina Campbell. Known to much of the world as one-half of the iconic gospel duo Mary Mary, Tina Campbell is an accomplished and multi-award winning singer, songwriter, producer and executive producer of the WEtv original series hit show, Mary Mary. The newest single and video “Speak the Word” is out now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaeS1WX68a4
Terrance - When did you have the incentive to do your own solo venture?
Tina Campbell - Well, after I saw the devastation in my marriage and after I was going through the process of healing because I am a singer and because I’m a person of Faith, I ran to the Bible just to find some answers and so I was studying the Bible all day. Actually I started writing a prayer before my life fell apart but of course once my marriage and everything started falling apart I ran to the bible and started writing a prayer just to pray for God’s best over my life and not the devastation I was living with everyday. As I was going through this journey of healing all of these songs that would speak to me and encourage and inspire me and I wasn’t trying to write them and I’ve been a songwriter for quite some time but that’s not usually how it happen and so by the time I had all these songs that carried me through my journey and all these prayers I was praying, I talked to my lawyer one day about it and he told me it was a book and I was like Okay I guess I’m gonna put it out and that’s how I became solo.
Terrance - What’s the major difference as a Solo artist vs. Mary Mary?
Tina Campbell - I can’t take a breather to let Erica sing so it’s different it gets a little winded (laughs). The thing is with Mary Mary is Mary Mary is a big ol’ machine experienced with a lot of components that make it work. Independently it was just that. It was just me, just me at the helm of things quarterbacking things trying to come up with this vision and see that vision is played out. I didn’t have the staff, the financial resources nor the expertise that comes with Mary Mary so I wasn’t able to put all of those things in place and furthermore I just wanted to give what came from the heart, I wanted to give it in the most honest way. I wasn’t aiming for chart positions or making impressions I just wanted to put it out there for people who were looking for something to get them through their journey so again the difference is Mary Mary have a whole lot more resources and a whole lot more experience and a much greater fanbase. Tina didn’t have all of that so it was challenging but I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown as a music executive. I’ve learned how to get what I want, how to negotiate, how to facilitate what is required to make an artist like myself happen, all of those little nooks and crannies someone else have to do that you really don’t pay attention to I’ve had to be all of those people so I’ve acquired a great respect for all of those people who did it for me in Mary Mary because as an independent solo artist I had to be all of those people over the past year and a half.
Terrance - Getting into your debut album, It’s Personal, how therapeutic was it for you?
Tina Campbell - Exactly that. It was just straight therapy and straight counseling. When life got so hard that I couldn’t pray sometimes these songs said what I couldn’t pray. Every stage and every phase that I went through God gave me a song for it.
Terrance - Can you give us a brief breakdown of some of the songs and how they were conceived?
Tina Campbell - I remember when I first found out about my husband’s infidelity I was extremely violent I was homicidal and suicidal so anything and anybody around me other than my kids were subject to attack so the song I sing on my album with my kids called “Woh Oh Oh” is basically saying like you use your body, mind, mouth and hands to glorify God not to seek people, so that song carried me through when I was being violent I had to sing that song to remind myself, don’t attack nobody, don’t plot all this stuff. Then you seem like God is taking too long to take you through this process I have a song called, “I'll Wait”. “Destiny” was basically kinda prophesying into my future like you got to go through this journey but you’re gonna learn and get better and get where God has for you if you keep following Jesus. I would play the songs going to bed and when I wake up and even now that music is personal, so it’s not fake it and impress somebody.
Terrance - Your latest single and video “Speak The Word” is out now what does that song mean to you?
Tina Campbell - The Bible says life and death is in our tongue and a lot of people don’t realize they have a lot they keep speaking. You keep saying you frustrated, your kids get on your nerves, you can’t stand your man, you hate your job, don’t nothing work out for me, don’t nobody respect me, don’t nobody value my talent, you know we speak these things and your words run your world and people don’t realize their speaking death over themselves and their blaming everything and everybody else when you’re confessing what’s wrong and not what’s right. You’re speaking your reality and not your potential or what your future hold. You keep getting what you got because you keep doing what you did and I realized that wasn’t working. I spoke all kinds of foolishness I spoke about irritation and frustration and I don’t like this and I’m stressed out and they ain’t giving us our just due or opportunity. We spend so much time complaining or finding whatever it is that’s wrong and so what happens the bible says so as a man thinketh so is he. These optimistic people are on to something, they just hope for the best and expect everything to turn out good and guess what? Even if it don’t they hope it'll get better the next day. The person that’s expecting and thinking negative they gonna keep getting it and so I had to speak life and speak what God says about me and not what I think about me or my reality said. Once I started speaking what God said in the bible then I ended up with this life I got now and it worked so we speaks the word and that’s what that song is about. I did it, my husband did it and that’s what we did for like a whole year and a half straight and I think that’s why we have the life we have now.
Terrance - What was it like to have Stevie Wonder grace his presence on your project on the song “Love Love Love”?
Tina Campbell - Well it’s one of those great accomplishments in life so to speak, when you have someone as Legendary impact your life for years and years and years and you’re able to link up with them and do what you do alongside someone like that it’s just what can you say? It’s an OMG moment. My husband has played with everybody and has relationships with everybody. He has played on every major television show behind major top artists so I was singing the song in the studio we were coming up with the music with Warryn and I was like Oooh what if Stevie Wonder sing on this song? I wasn’t expecting to do that I just said it and my husband said well you want me to call him? And I said Yes! (laughs). So he called him and told him what we were doing. It was extremely hard coordinating the schedules because every month he’ll say he want to do it, he want to do it but it never worked out so I went into the studio after we waited so long and I was just excited about the fact that he was corresponding with us so many times because he was so interested in doing it. I just went into the studio to record it and was like it didn’t work, maybe the next time or whatever and he called and was like, I get in town tonight. He came when the song was supposedly getting mixed, he came and sang his part I was like man when something is meant to be it’s just meant to be so I tell my kids and everyone I did something with Stevie Wonder. Stevie THE Wonder so that’s one of the greatest things ever for my first solo project.
Terrance - Were there any songs in particular that were harder to sing in the studio due to a circumstance?
Tina Campbell - None of them were hard to sing because by the time I started to sing them I had gotten over the hump. “The Prayer” on the other hand when I was writing those prayers it used to hurt my heart because I had to speak all of this good stuff over my husband and this positivity about our relationship when it wasn’t that and it was hard to believe that it would ever be that again so I was writing those prayers like this might be too much to ask or this may never happen and we might be scarred forever so I was crying and praying getting all choked up like I don’t want to speak no good over him, he hurt me you know what I mean? So prayer was different, the song? Not a problem.
Terrance - Is there a personal favorite on the album that gravitates to you?
Tina Campbell - All of them are my personal favorites at different times. “Speak the Word” is my jam though. I think the song “Destiny” as well as “Speak the Word” pretty much encompasses what the journey was like, like with “Destiny” it kind of speaks on the fact it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t without challenges, it wasn’t even without doubts and a lot of failure but I had to keep my eyes on the fact if i’m following Jesus he gone carry me through this man so had I not spoken that way early in advance I probably would’ve kept speaking this hate and death and I’m gone kill everybody and this ain’t gonna never work so because that song spoke so much life over me I love that song. It told me what my future was gonna look like and now I’m looking at that future and living it and then “Speak the Word” that song is so autobiographical that it ain’t even funny. That’s exactly what we did we lived in the bible all day and night because like I said I was homicidal and suicidal and the only thing that gave me therapy and kept me from feeling like that and listening to all them demons that were in my head was reading the bible so I read it simply because it was therapeutic now I wanted to know about God and do the right thing and grow but it shut up all the demons that wouldn’t shut up as I was reading the bible, it shut them up. I wasn’t being tormented with all of these thoughts and plans to do crazy stuff so I was reading the bible all day and night I was being influenced by it and I wasn’t kicking it with nobody but Jesus and now my life is a reflection of living that word and speaking it so the song “Speak the Word” is exactly what I did so that’s probably one of my favorites.
Terrance - What was the experience like to be honored amongst your peers in the music industry this year at the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards here in Atlanta?
Tina Campbell - Overwhelming. It’s so funny Erica and I are kinda starting to accept the fact that we’ve been doing this quite sometime and we’ve been like trailblazers and that kind of stuff but we didn’t necessarily see ourselves that way. We saw people who’ve been around longer than we have as such but the truth is God has blessed us to be able to blaze trails and to be innovative and creative so I’m grateful for the honor and grateful people would take the time to think of us and put the event together and have people tributing to us and then we have all these amazing singers doing a great job with your songs, you know what I mean? So it’s flattering, it’s exciting, it’s encouraging, it’s inspiring. We were just so consumed with gratitude like dang we mean something to the industry so you know all the hard work you put in and all the things you go through to try to be excellent it will eventually take off and you'll get to see the impact you made and for people to do that to remind you so it was completely awesome. I don’t think I really took in all that it was til I got there like they doing this for us? Yeah, it was great man.
Terrance - Fans are excited about you and Erica’s solo ventures but is there ever any pressure for a new Mary Mary album?
Tina Campbell - Well of course from the fans I feel like I get a post at least once a day saying I love your solo stuff and I love this song, that song but when is the next Mary Mary record coming? People are gonna slide that in pretty much every time (laughs) so fans want it and people are anticipating it. I think there are some people who respect the evolution of a person and respect we have gone outside of Mary Mary and the truth is Erica and I ain’t kids. We’re grown women with our own lives, our own experiences and our own voice and sometimes that voice does not coordinate it doesn’t coincide with one another. I don’t have the same story she has nor the same journey as her, twins or not you don’t have the same life. I convey with the conviction over the passion God has given me and the same for her so had we not had this opportunity to separate and just kinda do what was in our heart to do and what God pushed us to do I don’t think we would have evolved to become a better Mary Mary. When we come together now you have two evolved individuals and another thing I’ve learned since separating is we’ve learned to respect and value each other way more after being apart like when something is always right under your nose you can’t tell how amazing it is. But i’ve realized the value that Erica has brought to this group and vice versa and we probably ignored it the whole time we were together so there’s a lot of respect, comradery and value as individuals and creative people who can pull it off so we don’t necessarily need each other but we’re beneficial to each other when we’re together because we have something different so you know the respect, appreciation and all that kind of stuff and the life journey’s, growths and experiences we gone bring all that to Mary Mary when we finally do another record and I think it’s gonna be explosive.
Terrance - What are your thoughts when the blogs and social media try to pit you and Erica into competition battles?
Tina Campbell - That’s pointless and they ain’t gonna get nowhere with it. That’s my sister, I love her and support her 100% and she feels the exact same way about me and as I always say we have stayed down with each other so everybody with all of that is stupid because our Mother didn’t raise us to be competitive. We don’t compete with each other, we celebrate one another. If Erica does something bigger, better and grander than I then she opens the door for me to have an opportunity and vice versa. We stand on each other shoulders, we push each other through and we refuse to compete with each other. She’s not my enemy, she’s my partner, she’s my sister. So I’m not trying to be better than her, I’m just trying to be the best of me and the same with her so anyone who has that agenda is again stupid and pointless.
Terrance - Now we [the public] see you every week on your reality show Mary Mary and thereafter form our own opinion and whatnot but what would you say is one misconception about Tina Campbell?
Tina Campbell - You know that i’m this volatile person that always willing to snap on somebody and that i’m this selfish person who only care about myself. That’s who I used to be but even then I think it was a bit exaggerated because I’m not that person. I have had problems being a bit controlling but I’m not trying to control anybody else stuff. I’m controlling my stuff for instance a lot of the things i’m doing I can come off controlling because the truth is I am the boss. This is my vision and not someone else’s opinions and thoughts you know what I mean? When you see someone as an artist it’s very hard to see them as a music executive or as an executive in any other respect but when I became solo that’s exactly what happened. I booked my own tours, hired my own people, I facilitated my own budgets and did all of this kind of stuff, I did all my own stuff so if I seemed controlling it’s because I am the boss and that seemed like, Oh you’re being a Diva. That was not what you seen as me as an Artist, you saw that part of me as I was running the business of the Artist and when I was the artist I could sit back and chill and let those in place help me be the Artist but when it came to being an Executive if the ship crash and burn then it’s all gonna be on me, I have to make sure i’m guiding that thing properly and so sometimes the show shows that. That’s where my heart was and my life extended itself to so I was labeled as selfish and all of that. How are you selfish when you’re pursuing what’s in your heart? Even after someone say they wanna go solo, I was left in the open to do my own thing as well so the whole idea you know that I have this such volatile personality the TV show needs a villain and they try to push play on that and I understand that it’s frustrating because of the different places we perform the staff is like we don’t wanna make you snap and I’m like I’m not gonna snap on anybody like i’m this volatile, out of control person that doesn’t respect the people who have brought me in and i’m not grateful for the opportunities so I don’t really like that or the animosity that’s supposedly quote unquote created amongst our family because the truth is my family are my bestfriends. We love each other and hang out all day and night and we’re always working together even on the tour so I don't like that. What it does is create this persona we fuss and fight all day and we don’t. We used to but that haven’t been our lives for the past two years especially after I went through all my hell you know? Up until that point the TV show showed the truth of me but for the past two years it haven’t shown the truth of me nor my sisters. It fixes everything in the end but it plays on the worst before it gets to the best and I don’t think that’s the best representation of a family who really love each other or people of Faith because we ain’t sitting up here worried and stressed out like, Oh my God I’m gonna lose my house, my doorknob fell (laughs) come on now. But I live with it because at the end of the day they wouldn’t have anything I didn’t give em so you give them a bad day and they stretch it out to coordinate with a storyline or idea because it makes things a lil more interesting and they have that content to use rather than the good content. There will be a season six and we will absolutely be a lot more honest with our truth and exactly who we are now, not who we were or what people bought into or who the network think will bring in ratings. If we can’t be who we are and give our real lives then we need to leave reality TV I’m not for the drama and I’m not going to be an ignorant black woman with an ignorant black family.
Terrance - Talk to us about the goal you would like to achieve with An Evening with Teddy & Tina Campbell Fall Tour.
Tina Campbell - An Evening with Teddy and Tina Campbell i’m so completely excited about it. I’m consumed with the preparation of it. I just finished my routing and pulling all the dates together and locking all the dates in with the cities you know getting all the particulars together but I’m so completely about it because the truth is with me and Teddy it’s like much of the world especially in America believe you can do anything but change the nature of who you are. You might get a degree, you might make money, you might get a new job, you might move into a better neighborhood but naw you’re a liar so you always gonna be a liar, you used to be a ho so you gonna always be a ho. People generally don’t believe you can change.
Terrance - Unfortunately that’s true.
Tina Campbell - What I believe have been shown is God has allowed people to see me and my husband’s life completely change, all the fool I was acting on that show I was acting an even greater fool than that in real life but I didn’t let them see the worst days because I think it would’ve embarrassed our family and God so it showed the best of me as foolish and crazy as it was that’s exactly what happened. But I live my life now I’m deeply in love with my husband I say it all the time I would leave any and everything and everybody except God for this man because he’s an exceptional man yes he failed, yes he made a mistake but who doesn’t? Who he became and how he recovered from his mistake told me who he really is. My husband is nothing like the man I was married to for the first twelve and a half years this guy that I live with now is totally different and I see it everyday so I can’t deny what I’m living with. I’m like you wasn’t nothing like this before and he probably think the same about me (laughs), so for us to go and talk to people about what changed and transformed our life by learning the word of God. First of all, we were created by God so who’s going to tell us how to live our best life? Anything that’s created comes with a manual by a creator so how are you gonna find out how to be your best person in life? You dang sure ain’t gone find it in the Cosmopolitan magazine or health book that’s filled with someone’s opinion based on their life. You go find your best information by reading the creators manual by the creator which is the Bible. By reading the Bible we’re better parents, we’re better companions, better lovers, better friends. We never created together, we never did anything together in music we do everything together now. He’s out of town doing a conference and I’m miserable because he’s my best friend but he wasn’t my friend at first he was just my lover and my husband who I loved, now he’s my best friend, the one I want to talk to and kick it with and my homegirls be like dang Tina we can’t never find you no more I’m like i’m hanging out with my husband so this is the life we have. A lot of people are trying to figure out how do I get there and not still be distrusting, how do I get there and really smile from the heart and not be insecure or ashamed, how do I not be the failure I’ve been my whole life? How do I overcome the things from my past like I never got over who molested me, I never got over who stole my business idea, I never discovered who I loaned that money to and I feel like I ain’t never recovered financially because of the way things are in your life.
Terrance - Exactly.
Tina Campbell - People have a problem forgiving and moving on to the next best thing so my husband and I feel like between the music, prayers, testimonies and messages interwoven between these songs we are able to share with people how to overcome these things. I’m talking point by point, don’t give me all this good inspirational stuff and I don’t know what to do with it, this is what you do, this is how you do it, you can’t quit, get back up. To me it’s a big long night of really good counselling and my husband and I spent tens of thousands of dollars on counselling for thirteen months everybody can’t spend that. Everybody doesn’t have the freedom in their schedule to study the whole Bible like we did you know? Or the amenities or luxuries to just zone out of everything and just zone into trying to cultivate love and learn what God wanted us to do on this Earth and we learned it so we need to go out there and teach and share with people so that’s what An Evening with Teddy and Tina Campbell is about. It’s almost like you’re watching a movie in my opinion and it’s infused with music so it’s like a little bit concert, a little bit inspirational, maybe a little bit of preaching back and forth. I have yet to see anything like this and I definitely haven’t seen anything like this with a husband and wife and music is the backdrop of our life we’re both musicians and figurative songwriters so we use what we have to share what we’ve learned to help somebody who’s trying to learn it. But I have to tell you this, there’s two other components to the tour right, my husband in the process of healing he started writing these songs well he used to be the drummer for Jay Leno so when he was on the Jay Leno Show he did a lot of drumming and singing and he liked it so he started writing songs with just him on the drum and he does like Rock/Soul kind of stuff and he started writing about becoming a better man and having a better relationship with me and that was about a year or two before I found out about everything that was going on so during our healing he started writing more songs in that same lane with a Rock/Soul vibe. An Evening with Teddy and Tina Campbell is every Thursday through Sunday but the first kickoff night on Wednesdays there will be a Teddy Campbell band performance which is straight up for lovers, straight up for music lovers, married couples all that kind of stuff. I’m going to be out there enjoying my man and I might get up there and sing a love song or something of that nature so i’m excited about that being part of the tour because you get to show all the variations and aspects of who you are you.
Terrance - That’s interesting!! Is there anything additional you’d like to add that may not have been covered?
Tina Campbell - I’d like to encourage everybody and hope they enjoyed the interview. They can pick up my book, I Need A Day to Pray, as well as my album, It’s Personal, on Amazon and iTunes, and I’d love to see everyone on the tour, An Evening with Teddy and Tina. The tour is free and I have some of the information posted on my website at www.iamtinacampbell.com. You can follow me on all my social sites, on instagram it’s @teddyandtina and everywhere else periscope, twitter, facebook it’s @iamtinacampbell and I will be posting more dates and cities at the end of the month but I’d love for people to come out and enjoy the tour it doesn’t come at a cost all you gotta do is bring your body and be ready. Now the Teddy Campbell Band Performance will cost you a little bit but it will be well worth it.