Mary Mary Biography
Their debut album, Thankful (2000), was certified Platinum. In addition, the duo has released two Gold albums: Incredible (2002) and Mary Mary (2005), both of which have charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums. They have also received four Grammys, among other awards. In 2011, they released their fifth studio album, Something Big.
In March 2012, they premiered their own television series, Mary Mary, on WE tv. A second season premiered in December 2012 and concluded in February 2013. Their most recently released album is their first compilation album, Go Get It (2012), with the hit single of the same name. Then the third season premieres on February 27.
The sisters were born Erica Monique Atkins and Trecina Evette Atkins in California. The Atkins sisters grew up as part of a large family of nine children in Inglewood, California. Their parents are mother Thomasina Atkins, an evangelist and choir director at the Evangelistic Church of God in Christ, and father Eddie A. Atkins, an Elder in the Church of God In Christ and Gang/Youth Counselor. Their mother and father were married and divorced three times when their father, Eddie, died in 2013.
Due to their proximity in age, the two sisters grew up closer to one another than to any of their seven siblings. The Atkins children are: Darrell Atkins (born 1965; the only living boy, as a second boy died as a child); Maliea Atkins (born 1967); Erica and Tina (born 1972 and 1974); Delisa Atkins-Brown (born 1977); Thomasina Atkins (born 1979); Alana Atkins-Jamison (born 1985) and Shanta Atkins (born 1986). (Thomasina, Alana, Delisa and Shanta Atkins all sing background on Mary Mary albums and in stage performances.)
The sisters quickly entered the world of church choirs, traveling gospel shows, and some television productions. All eight Atkins children were on the Bobby Jones Gospel show on BET.
The sisters had their sights set on making music a career and enrolled at El Camino College to study voice. There they ran up against the divide between academic music studies and the popular musical world. "We had to study classical and sing arias, which was fine," Erica told the Times, "but the teachers would tell us if we sang anything else it would damage our instrument".
The sisters toured with the 1995 Michael Matthews traveling gospel show Mama I'm Sorry and Sneaky. Each sister subsequently toured as a backup singer for a variety of R&B acts, including Brandy.
The duo was subsequently signed to Columbia Records/C2 Records and decided to perform under the name Mary Mary, honoring Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. They were the first gospel act to record for the industry giant Columbia Records since Tramaine Hawkins in the mid-1990s. Their first single, "Shackles (Praise You)" became a crossover hit, being popular with gospel, R&B, and pop audiences. It was a Top 5 R&B and Top 10 pop hit, and peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It became the first gospel song in five years to crack the R&B top ten and gained wide exposure on the MTV video cable channel. The album was a huge success because it offered a younger, hipper version of gospel that audiences could relate to. Their debut album, Thankful was released in May 2000. It peaked at No. 1 on the Gospel album chart and at No. 59 of the overall Top 200 chart, and was certified Platinum for shipments of one million copies in the USA. It went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. The second single "I Sings" features rapper BB Jay. Both singles were also hits in the UK and Europe, and to this day remain popular with Christian youths in the US, Latin America, and Europe. Their only Top 10 UK hit to date is "Shackles (Praise You)", which reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in June 2000. The follow-up "I Sings" peaked at UK No. 32.
With their second album Incredible, the duo was able to maintain their success. Soon after its July 2002 release it was No. 1 on the Gospel chart and was able to enter the Top 20 of the Top 200 album chart. Incredible was later on certified Gold for 500,000 copies sold in the United States. The album's singles were In The Morning and I Try. While this album charted higher than their debut, sales were lower. The duo attributed the lower sales to less aggressive promotion due to label switchovers and the advent of music piracy.
After taking time off to have children, Mary Mary released their self-titled third album, Mary Mary, in July 2005. It became the duo's first album to enter the Top 10 on Billboard and was later on certified Gold for sales of 500,000 copies. The first single "Heaven" contained a sample from seventies soul trio the Honey Cone's "Want Ads". Heaven made history and broke chart records as it had an unprecedented nine week run as the No. 1 record on Billboard's Gospel Radio chart. The second single, "The Real Party (Trevon's Birthday)" debuted at No. 43 on the Gospel Radio Chart. The third single, "Yesterday", also became a hit, especially on the Adult R&B charts where it peaked at No. 10. On the R&B/Hip Hop chart, the song became their second biggest hit since "Shackles" in 2000, reaching the No. 50. The album's final single, "Believer" indicated testimonies of being a Christian. The song hit No. 33 on the Gospel Radio chart.
On October 10, 2006, the duo released their fourth studio album, a Christmas project entitled A Mary Mary Christmas.
On October 21, 2008, the recording group released their fifth studio album, The Sound. The lead single "Get Up" was released digitally via iTunes on July 15, 2008. The Sound saw Mary Mary achieve even greater success in the mainstream market; the album sold over 37,000 copies in its first week, and was their best charting album to date, debuting No. 7 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the US R&B chart, and topping the gospel and CCM charts. The album held the No. 1 position on the Billboard Gospel Album chart for over six months since its release. Warryn Campbell again returned to produce the album and saw collaborations with Kierra Sheard, David Banner, Marvin Winans, Daryl Coley, Andrae Crouch, Rance Allen, Dorinda Clark Cole, Joe Ligon, Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins, and Karen Clark Sheard. In Spring 2009 "God In Me" began achieving crossover success (as Shackles had nine years earlier), reaching No. 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play.
The duo (along with Warryn Campbell) was nominated as songwriters at the 52nd Grammy Awards in the Best Gospel Song category for "God in Me" while the Israel Houghton song they were featured on "Every Prayer" was also nominated. They went on to win the award. After the awards, they were invited to participate in the remake of We Are The World to benefit Haiti after the earthquake. The album also won Mary Mary four Stellar Awards on January 16, 2010.
In 2009, Mary Mary commenced recording their sixth studio album. Originally titled OMG, the project was renamed Something Big after R&B singer Usher had a hit single, "OMG" in 2010. The album was released on March 29, 2011. The duo released the lead single, "Walking," in the fall of 2010. A video was shot in January 2011 in Santa Ana, CA. Mary Mary debuted the title track "Something Big" on the BET Celebration of Gospel 2011, while "Something Bigger" served as a B-side to "Walking". The second single from the album was "Survive." The video debuted on July 27, 2011.
On February 13, 2012, Mary Mary debuted their new single, "Go Get It", from the greatest hits compilation album of the same name, at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, California. A music video was also made for the single and released on April 20, 2012. The performance was shown in the season finale of their reality TV series, Mary Mary (on WEtv), which began airing March 29, 2012. The album was officially released on May 8, 2012. It features one other new track, "Sunday Morning", along with eleven remixed and remastered hits from their previous albums.
In efforts to promoting "Go Get It," Mary Mary has announced a "Go Get It Tour." The tour is in 10 different cities across the U.S, beginning in Jacksonville, FL on October 25 and running through November 17 in Hampton, VA. Support acts include: Isaac Carree, VaShawn Mitchell, Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy, Sunday’s Best Finalist Jessica Reedy and Anita Wilson.
On December 5, 2012, it was revealed that they scored a double Grammy nomination under the categories of Best Gospel/Contemporary Music Performance and Best Gospel Song, for "Go Get It"; the latter winning the Grammy.