By: Shenelle Wallace (May 2010)

There is a familiar saying that goes “Many are called but few are chosen.” In fact, it’s biblical (Matthew 22:14). Whenever I think of this artist, that very quote comes to mind. I’d like to introduce to you gospel phenomenon Camille Newman.  Take a moment to get to know her. Her story might just change the way you view life.

So Divine: Hi Camille!

Camille:  Hi Shenelle.

So Divine: How are you?

Camille:  Blessed and highly favored (laughs). I’m having an ok day. I’m trying to keep the faith.

So Divine: (Laughs) I’m really excited to interview you for the first time as an artist. Now, I’m fully aware of your journey and the sacrifices that were made to put out this CD. How do you feel now that it’s finally released?

Camille:  Well, truthfully I have a bunch of mixed feelings actually. I’m relieved that it’s released and it’s done. But often with music, you have already moved on to a different phase, or you’re writing something else while a CD comes out. So it’s almost that I’m ready to move on to the next CD and I’m just out promoting my first CD. I’m somewhat fearful as I’m realizing that to be a gospel artist is a challenge, and then being an independent gospel artist – meaning, you try to bring a vision which is an even bigger challenge. So there are a lot of mixed feelings I have right now.

So Divine:  Well are your mixed feelings leaning more towards the positive side? I would hope…

Camille: Well, it’s a lot of work and I’m basically [taking care of] the promotion, the finances, the singers, the band, I’m it. The coordinator the booker, it’s overwhelming.

So Divine: I can imagine. I understand. Well, when did you first start singing?

Camille:  I started singing around the age of 7 or 6. I used to do what they call festival competition in Jamaica; and I don’t know if they still have them, but basically we would compete on a school level, a regional level, and then a national level; and most times I made it to the national level and I always won the gold medal or silver medal.  Before I started singing I was violinist at a very young age. I was a violinist maybe until age 12 until coming to the United States, and I stopped playing the violin then, but I kept singing.

So Divine: Well look at that. See, God was preparing you all that time.

Camille:  Well, Amen (laughs).

So Divine: Amen! Now there are many people who can sing but don’t want to be in the spotlight. Did you always appreciate your gift?

Camille: No, and even today I’m still having trouble appreciating my gift.

So Divine: Really??

Camille: Yeah. Truly, I made a CD not to somehow be a celebrity or to try to be the star on stage. I made a CD because I have a lot to say. I have books, and books, and books of lyrics, and tapes and tapes of melodies in my head that I just felt I had to get out. So that’s really how I approach it. I approach it less as a singer and more as a song writer. That’s really what I do. The melodies come to me. They come to me when I’m meditating on the word. Almost every song I write is a testimony for my own life.

So Divine: Why gospel?

Camille:  When I was 14 I started out in R&B. I used to go to talent shows. I would actually win talent shows and I did talent shows for quite sometime actually; and would try to move foreword in the R&B area, and I was supposed to get a record deal through a management company or work with a management company and I had to get the consent of my father and my father said no. And so that kind of stopped the dream because I was 14 at the time and I would have to get consent for everything that I was going to do. So that was very disappointing because I really wanted to do that. So I stopped singing for quite sometime because I was so disappointed and …wow I had stopped singing for a really long time. I didn’t sing all the way through college until maybe my junior year when I joined Voices for Christ and different groups. Then when I graduated from college I sang with a couple choirs here and there. Then I started to serve in my church choir; but before my church choir, I entered a talent show at church.  I didn’t win at all. In fact I was last! (Laughs) I stopped singing then too. But through that [the talent show] I met a lady, Kim Harley, who encouraged me to keep on singing; and eventually through Kim I auditioned for Dreamgirls in 2006 and I became Effie. So my musical journey has been very tumultuous actually.

So Divine: Well thank God that he put the desire back in your heart to continue singing.

Camille: Yes. And even some days… (Hearty laugh), some days the desire wavers!

So Divine: Yes, well let’s hope that the fire is there more than its not!

Camille: You know what the fire is? The fire is to pour out all the hurt and pain and the depression and the suicidal thoughts, and the bad relationships, and just to pour that into women and men out there who are suffering the same things and don’t quite know the way to get over. That’s what the fire is for. I really focus on the message.

So Divine: And you’re ministering to me right now too. There are quite a few artists who start out singing gospel and as they gain popularity they branch off into secular music. It’s a common trend that we see a lot. Do you ever see yourself going that route?

Camille: I don’t really see myself going that route. I only write gospel songs. I have tried to write R&B songs and nothing pours out. Maybe it will change when I get married and fall in love; I don’t know.

So Divine: So you’ve written all these songs, and I must say that the words are profound and sounds like they’re coming from a person who has experienced life. Tell us a little bit about your story.  

Camille: My story is heavy. Can you handle it?

So Divine: Tell us what you want the readers to know. Put it that way.

Camille: I’ve had a very tumultuous past. I am a rape survivor and I am a survivor of domestic abuse. Both of those experiences have influenced not only my music but my walk with God and they had a tremendous impact on my life. Those two situations will cause anybody who endures, both men and women, to have a period of emotional challenges. So I write from that place. I’m not ashamed of it. I am still getting comfortable discussing it but those have been two of the most impacting events that have happened to me, and have shape dhow I feel about myself and how I feel about God. And it wasn’t always rosy with God (Chuckles).

So Divine: Well I applaud you for being brave enough to share that with our readers. I just want to tell you that you’re very strong, because you came out of it and you’re still here, and you’re still choosing to serve God in spite of. What are you hoping that people will get from listening to Unashamed?

Camille: I am hoping that people will be delivered. That every time they hear one of the songs they will be healed, or it can begin a process of healing. I’m hoping that people will understand that they don’t have to be ashamed to proclaim God; especially young people. I hope that my CD will motivate them to want to live their life right.

So Divine: Why are you so convinced by this gospel?

Camille: Oooo! That’s deep! You know what? It’s a faith walk. I just don’t know how I would make it without Christ. I don’t know how some people get up everyday in the morning and they don’t pray. I’m not gonna run out and tell people that I’ve tried Allah, because I haven’t; and I don’t want to quite frankly. I know that when I pray to Jesus I feel his presence; He is very real to me. But it’s a faith walk. My life would not be the same without Jesus Christ.

So Divine: Finally, what is your final message?

Camille: I want to tell my listeners that they are to keep fighting. When you get saved people don’t tell you the truth. Though there is happiness in Jesus, you have to fight to keep your belief. You have to always push nearer and nearer and nearer to God, and you have to keep on pushing until you can’t push no more. This is a war. Every time you try to push towards that mark and push towards Jesus, it’s like the walls of people are trying to close in on you. So have an eternity mindset that says I’m going to strive for Christ no matter how I feel, no matter what.

So Divine: Well thank you Camille! Thank you for your time it’s been a pleasure!

Camille: Thank you Miss Wallace! Thank you So Divine!

So Divine: We love you and we look forward to this CD, and the next CD, and the next CD to come.

Camille: Yes, praise God. I receive it!