On ‘Masters of the Game,’ Erica Campbell explains why she won’t let naysayers determine her sound

OPINION: In a clip from a recent episode of "Masters of the Game," the gospel star shares a story about a pastor who threw shade on her performance and how she recovered from that painful moment.

In our recent interview with gospel legend Erica Campbell on “Masters of the Game,” she explained that her music was not always churchy enough for everyone in the church community. Sometimes her solo work or her work with her duo, Mary Mary, was a bit too pop for some church people. And we know how particular church folks can be about gospel music. It’s got to hit the right notes and praise God in just the right way or they’re not interested. Sometimes, Campbell’s music has moved people in the wrong way. And sometimes they have said that to her face.

In one unforgettable moment in our interview, Campbell said once, she sang at a church in Atlanta, and when she finished, she sat down in the front row. “The pastor gets up,” she said, “and says, ‘Well, that was cute. Where’s my singer? Is my singer going to sing?’”

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The shade! “That was cute”??? Wow. It’s easy to say Campbell should have just ignored it and, yes, in that moment, she just played it cool and maintained her dignity. She said she “sat there and smiled and sat a little taller. And then went on to sell platinum and win Grammys.” But she couldn’t entirely brush that off. The opinion of church folks matters to her, so it was a painful moment. She said she felt hurt and offended. But, more important to her was this: She would never allow someone else to determine the sound of her music. 

“I think when you hear they’re not going to like that, they won’t like that … I started saying, ‘Who are they?’” she said. “And why did we give them so much power? Am I living for them? Or God? Am I trying to serve him? Am I trying to reach people in different places of different cultures of different lifestyles, or am I just trying to make sure that y’all happy? So then I can’t get to the best version of myself? Because I just made you my God.”

You can watch my entire interview with Erica Campbell on “Masters of the Game” on TheGrioTV.