Perhaps the most successful “gospel crossover” act since Kirk Franklin, the award-winning duo Mary Mary is having a banner year. Erica Campbell recently gave birth to her third child, Tina is pregnant with her fourth, their WE TV reality show was just picked up for a second season, and their eighth album, Go Get It, dropped last month. They were also nominated for two Grammys, hired new management, and were invited to perform at the Essence Music Festival for the first time next month.
It’s fitting, then, that the lead single from their new album is called “Go Get It.” They’re definitely out here seizing opportunities. And many of those opportunities would not have been available to them, had they not “crossed over” and earned spots on mainstream R&B/urban radio. Though most gospel listeners don’t get as up in arms about that as they used to, say, thirty years ago, when the Clark Sisters released “You Brought the Sunshine,” with its reggae-lite beat inspired by Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster,” Mary Mary still experiences the occasional old-fashioned churchy side-eye when their melodies or wardrobes seem to skirt a little too close to the secular edge.
Their reality series has provided more insight into their personal lives. Their bickering and endorsement of pole-dance workouts left some churchgoers cold, while others found their candor and concern for their body image, their health, and their sexiness to be refreshing. Regardless of your thoughts on Mary Mary, it’s interesting how discussions about them highlight some Christians’ ideas about what is and is not an “acceptable public image.” The sisters Campbell often said as much, whenever their sister and stylist Goo pulled outfits for their appearances. They had to dress with an eye to modesty, because it was expected.
Are you a Mary Mary fan? How do you feel about hearing gospel music in “non-traditional places” (like the club)? Should gospel artists have to look a certain way to be considered an “acceptable representation” of church or Christian life–and if so, what should that “gospel artist look” entail? And finally, what do you think of Mary Mary’s new single, “Go Get It?” If you haven’t heard it, check it out below: