SU Gospel Choir to sing backup for Erica Campbell at N.O. Awards event

Of course, they’re nervous.

Who wouldn’t get butterflies at the thought of singing backup to Erica Campbell?

Campbell is best-known for her contemporary gospel singing act, Mary Mary, which she shares with her sister Tina Campbell. And she’s recently released a debut album, featuring the hit “A Little More Jesus.”

The Southern University Gospel Choir will back her on that song on Saturday at the McDonald’s 365 Black Awards in the New Orleans Theater at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

The ceremony will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A recording of the show will air on the BET network in August. A specific date and time will be announced later.

Not all the members of the Southern University Gospel Choir will be present, because the spring semester had already ended when director Marcela Ratcliff learned about the opportunity.

Ratcliff is a senior from Baton Rouge majoring in vocal music. She’s been the choir’s director for a year, and she rounded up choir members who were still in the area after receiving a call from LaShawn Gary.

Gary is the music director for the awards show’s musical segments. He’s also a Southern University graduate, and he first contacted Harry Anderson, director of Southern’s Alvin Batiste Jazz Institute.

“He wanted to know how to get in touch with the Gospel Choir, and Harry Anderson gave him my name,” Ratcliff said. “We usually have about 35 members in the choir during the school year, but we’ll have 15 for the awards show. They’re from Baton Rouge, New Orleans and New Iberia, and they’ve been driving to Southern for rehearsals.”

Gary met with the choir two weeks ago and liked what he heard. He also was happy with the way the choir quickly followed the direction he wanted for the show.

The choir didn’t meet Campbell until a Friday rehearsal at the convention center.

“We’re excited about it,” Ratcliff said. “But we’re nervous — we’re all nervous.”

The 2013 program is a free, ticketed event.

To register for tickets, visit