If you’ve never heard Tamela Mann sing, you are missing out. Her vocals on “Father Can You Hear Me” from Tyler Perry’s movie “Diary Of A Mad Black Woman“, not only brings me to tears but gives me chills every single time I listen to it. Born In Fort Worth, Texas, this powerhouse vocalist got her big break as a member of the multi Grammy award winning group, Kirk Franklin and The Family. As the lead vocalist on a number of songs she made a name for herself. The acting bug stung Tamela in 1999 when Tyler Perry was introduced to her.
Between acting in movies and plays, she released two critically acclaimed albums, “Gotta Keep Movin’” in 2005 and “The Live Experience” in 2007 as well as received a Stellar Award nomination in 2008.
With a stream of Tyler Perry plays under her belt, having landed a staring roll in Tyler Perry’s newest sitcom, “Meet The Brown’s” and multiple movie roles (Kingdom Come, Diary of A Mad Black Woman and Meet The Browns) I was honored to speak with Mrs. Mann about her most recent role in “Madea Goes To Jail”, her music career and anything else she wanted to share.
Stephanie: How did you get your start singing professionally?
Tamela: I started singing professionally with Kirk Franklin & the Family in like 1992. I started singing with him and it kind of went from there and I sang with him for like nine years. Then the Lord just led me into the acting field.
Have you always wanted to be an actress or is singing your first love?
Singing was my first love. I was always afraid to act.
How did you get the opportunity to act?
My husband talked to one of the promoters for Kirk Franklin and the Family. He introduced us to Tyler.
You’ve acted in both plays and movies, do you prefer one over the other?
I like both but I prefer the plays. The plays are not as time consuming than the movies. With the stage plays, the play may run for a year to a year and a half but once you get the lines down your done. With acting on television, you always have to learn new lines. So that makes it more difficult and the hours are a lot longer. Because with the television show you have rehearsal time and the filming.
How do you maintain a straight face when acting with your husband David Mann and Madea?
I can’t help it because it’s an everyday thing. It just magnifies once he puts the costume on. It’s funny to me and you may see me laughing because I’m just shocked as you guys are from working with Tyler on stage and with David. They always try to do things to make me laugh.
How do you deal with your husband being funny all of the time?
I just deal with it. It’s been 21 years and it’s just an easy thing for me now. He told me a few months ago, “You are going to have to start paying me because I’m making you laugh too much.”
In Madea goes to jail, you reprise your role as Cora, what can viewers expect to see in this movie?
In this movie, I’m trying to help Madea. She’s always going against the grain. It’s just so funny.
So you’re really busy?
I’m really grateful of how God is just keeping us busy and putting things in our way. Right now busy is good with so many people out of work and everything else that is happening.
I knew you had one album but not two. Why did you decide to do the Live album?
This first album I did in the studio and I was just going to do a video to it. But what happened is the video turned out so well and different because it was live and even though it was the same songs, we just decided not to cheat the people and give them an audio and the DVD.
Your voice is so powerful!
I just want to be used by God in order to bless other people because that’s what it’s all about. My gift was given to me but it wasn’t just for me.
What’s next for Mrs. Tamela Mann?
Well I’m working on a new project. I want everybody to look for it. It should be released mid April. We’re starting production on another season of Meet the Browns. When the new album is released, we’ll send you a copy so your readers can hear some of it.