Rickey Smiley, David and Tamela Mann Host for the 30th Annual Stellar Awards
Few entertainers today can match the unbridled energy and creative passion that Tamela Mann brings to her multi-faceted career. An acclaimed actress, NAACP Image Award and Grammy Award nominee and Stellar Award and Dove Award-winning vocalist, as well as wife and mother, Mann’s talent has helped anchor one of the industry’s most successful film, TV and theatrical franchises, while her amazing vocal gift is at the top of her impressive resume.
Tamela seems to effortlessly juggle a variety of notable projects while still finding time to aid such worthy organizations as the American Diabetes Assn. Tamela and her husband, NAACP Image award-winning actor and comedian, David Mann will co-star in a number of upcoming television projects including a new series “It’s A Mann’s World” and sitcom “Mann and Wife.” Mann’s 2012 “Best Days” album release set records and garnered a list of accolades adding to Mann’s musical profile.
“I want to present music that people can be blessed by and that can be healing,” she says about her record. “We have to put music out to keep people encouraged and keep lifting the body of Christ up, and even the ones that haven’t become Christians. We need to encourage them that the best thing that they could ever do is become a child of God.”
With “Best Days,” Tamela is on a mission to share the strength and joy that can be found in being a child of God. Produced by Myron Butler and Kirk Franklin, the seven-time Stellar Gospel Music Award and two-time Dove Award-winning project showcases Mann’s powerful voice and her gift for wringing every ounce of emotion from a great lyric.
Tamela has a gift for encouraging people through music. Her previous album “The Master Plan,” won the 2011 Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Album of the Year. Though an award-winning project might cause some artists to feel pressure when they enter the studio to record their follow up album, Tamela just felt excited and motivated to take her music to another level, and she does just that on “Best Days.” “I take no glory. I take no merit for myself because it all comes from Him,” Mann says. “Everything that I am comes from Him. The Lord gives me words and the most fulfilling part is that I can plant a seed of joy and hope for people that I’ve never met.”
One of the most powerful tracks on “Best Days” is the Grammy-nominated, Stellar Award and Dove Award-winning debut single “Take Me to the King,” produced by long-time friend and Gospel icon, Kirk Franklin. The song earned Mann her first Grammy Award nomination for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and remained at #1 on the Gospel radio chart for a record number of weeks. The lyric acknowledges how heartbreakingly challenging life can be and how respite can be found in the presence of the King. Tamela turns in a soul-stirring performance with her voice conveying every ounce of vulnerability in the well crafted lyric as well as the hope that is within grasp.
The single is also featured on Mann’s 2013 “Best Days Deluxe Edition” album release, which also features the worship favorite and single “I Can Only Imagine.” The NAACP Image Award-nominated album features favorites from the standard version, plus live versions of the positive and powerful songs.
The positive, life-affirming attitude is not only the focal point of Tamela’s albums, it’s at the heart of everything she does. Whether she’s starring in a film, a play or on television with her husband David in the successful TBS comedy “Meet the Browns,” or recording an award-winning album, the singer continually touches people with her impressive talent and her Christ-like spirit.
Faith has always been the foundation of Tamela’s life. “It was all about faith and all about God in my mom’s house,” She recalls of growing up in Fort Worth, Texas as the youngest of 14 kids. “We couldn’t listen to like R&B or blues. My mom would say, ‘You can’t listen to those blues in my house.’ She was really strict, but we listened to a lot of gospel music---The Clark Sisters, Andrae’ Crouch, Walter Hawkins, The Williams Brothers and Inez Andrews.”
Tamela knew at an early age that she was called to music ministry. “When I was eight-years-old, I was going to youth choir rehearsals with my older siblings, and I would start learning the songs that they were singing. I noticed myself scooting up closer and closer to the choir stand, singing with the choir. I jumped in there and started singing soprano right off.”
Though she was young, her voice caught the attention of the choir director and her uncle, who was the pastor. “I had an opportunity to sing the lead and the song was James Cleveland’s ‘I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired.’ It went over so well and I got so moved while I was singing the song, I started crying. I didn’t know what it was at the time, being so young, but it was like the spirit of God would take me over every time that I would sing. I found out that singing was my passion.”
By the time she was 12, she was in the singing choir at the Holy Tabernacle church. Shortly after high school, she met three young men that would change her life forever. David Mann became her husband, Darrell Blair who is now her pastor, and pal Kirk Franklin, who helped launch Tamela’s singing career when he recruited her to be part of his groundbreaking group, The Family. Tamela sang on five of Franklin’s albums and has fond memories of those days. “I look at all of us and how God has blessed us in different areas,” she says. “We’re going on and doing our own things. We’re all still serving the Lord which is really a blessing. And working with Kirk again after all these years has been so special.”
After her stint with The Family, God continued to open doors for Mann to serve him in the arts. She landed a role in the play “He Say. . .She Say. . .But What Does God Say?” Her stage skills were noticed by actor/writer/producer Tyler Perry who chose her to appear in his play, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” From there her acting career escalated as she developed the role of Cora Simmons in Perry’s plays and such films as “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Madea Goes to Jail” and 2011’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” The Madea films have become one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises and Mann’s portrayal of ‘Cora Simmons’ has become a cornerstone of the series.
Tamela has also taken ‘Cora’ into America’s living rooms via the television screen, co-starring with her husband David in the #1 TBS series, “Meet the Browns.” Yet even as she’s become increasingly successful as an actress, Mann’s passion for music has never diminished. She’s recorded four highly acclaimed albums, including “The Master Plan,” and the versatile entertainer has been nominated for an NAACP Image award.
2012 was a memorable year in film for Mann as she joined Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in the film “Sparkle.” Mann acted alongside Houston as her character’s best friend.
Tamela Mann has been blessed with a busy life filled with faith, family and a rewarding career. She and David have been happily married for 26 years and have four children and eight grandchildren. The couple serves as spokespeople for the American Diabetes Association, helping educate people on healthy food choices and the importance of exercise. They also incorporate tips into “Hanging with the Manns,” a new cooking show the couple is co-hosting. They revel in the opportunity to work together on different projects. “We started out as best friends and we tell each other everything,” she says of what keeps her marriage strong. “Everything that we have accomplished has been together and it’s just really a blessing.”
The Mann’s home base remains in Texas and they are active in their church. “I’m always involved in church when I’m home,” she says. “When we have activities, I’m the decorator. I always decorate the fellowship hall. I really like being involved and I think it’s important because the pastors need laborers. They don’t just need members. They need laborers. It’s very important to come and be a part of actual fellowship and be a part of activities.”
As much as she loves being home, she also loves touring and ministering to people all over the world through her music. “That’s where I find my joy, when I can sing and minister to people,” she says, “because I see the hope and encouragement that it gives people. It’s something that I will do until I die. I will do this until the Lord calls me home because this is one sure way that I know I can tell people about Him so He can be glorified. I’ll never stop because I love it so much.”
Ingeniously funny and extraordinarily talented are understatements when it comes to the multifaceted actor and 2011 NAACP Award winner for Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series (Meet The Browns, “Mr. Brown”), David Mann. A native of the "Bible belt" state of Texas, David masterfully showcases his God given talents in today's most dynamic and distinguished genre.
Accentuating his already natural gift of making people laugh as a youth, David set his sights on acting. As a free-spirited adolescent, the self-possessed 15 year-old discovered a way to employ his unsuspecting antics by involving himself in various high school activities including contemporary drama where he permeated the stage world by becoming a budding thespian. Finding his natural element, David was commonly cast as the production's funnyman where his infectious comedic flair was visibly realized and fittingly unleashed. From high school to local community theater, David's accomplished performances quickly gained notable recognition advancing his diversified image into public notice.
In short order, David joined forces with one of America's funniest actors and critically acclaimed playwright, Tyler Perry. The illustrious actor had written, directed, and produced numerous plays including the stage play hit I Can Do Bad All By Myself where David remarkably immortalized the intrusively nosey, wisecracking, ashy-kneed, and outrageously funny neighbor, "Mr. Brown." As was apropos, David's bravo performance led the way for “Mr. Brown” to become a principal character in many of Perry's other hilarious stage and film comedies, including the play and motion picture, Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns, in which David reprised the role of “Mr. Brown” for mass audiences.
Both properties were sure-fire hits, playing to packed theaters and grossing millions. "If you thought Madea's family was crazy, wait till you meet the Browns” became the tag line for the new TBS comedy modeled after the film and starring David as the beloved “Mr. Brown.”
David Mann's musical and theatrical talents brilliantly epitomize ingenuity at its best. When David is not on set shooting, he brings his live comedy show to venues around the country playing to sold-out crowds and is a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Assn. Along with his wife, Tamela, David is the co-host of the exciting new cooking and lifestyle TV show, Hanging With The Manns, which follows the dynamic couple as they cook-up delicious recipes in the kitchen and go on hilariously funny and wild adventures together, and he is the co-star of the upcoming sitcom Mann and Wife and series It’s A Mann’s World.
David is also the president of his independent music and entertainment label, Tillymann Music Group, with his wife Tamela. When David is not on tour, he enjoys the restful company of his wife of 26 years and their fun-loving children and grandchildren.