Exclusive: Tamela Mann Speaks to UrbanBridgez.com
Tamela Mann is one of the few singers and actresses that is truly at the top of her game! Currently co-staring in the ratings success “Meet The Browns,” on TBS. The new season starts this Wednesday night! Today, she will release her new album “The Master Plan,” in stores and online now! Known to millions as Cora from the Tyler Perry productions; including theater plays “I Can Do Bad By Myself” and “Madea’s Class Reunion“, films “Diary of A Mad Black Woman” & “Madea Goes To Jail” and television “House of Payne” & “Meet The Browns.”
With “The Master Plan” Tamela returns to her first love, singing! Sharing another one of her talents with listeners, Tamela wrote for the new album as well for the first time. So not only do you hear her testimony, but you feel it in her emotions on the album tracks. “I Trust in You” is without a doubt the albums highlight single. Tamela’s voice is such an incredible instrument, as displayed on that track. Other album highlights include; “Here I Am,” “The Lords Prayer,” the urban/R&B influenced “Send Me” and “The Master Plan.”
In this exclusive interview with UrbanBridgez.com, as apart of our anniversary interview series! Tamela Mann talks to Aries about her brand new album “The Master Plan,” being apart of Kirk Franklin and The Family, her working relationship with her husband, working with Tyler Perry and much more! Read all about this talented artist, who is no longer in the background!
UrbanBridgez.com: First off lets talk about “The Master Plan,” what do you want listeners to get from it when they listen to it?
Tamela Mann: When they listen to “The Master Plan,” I want them to hear the message! That all things are working together, even though things might be hard right now for us. Specially with the economy, It’s just encouragement to let people know, things may look bad right now, but they’re going to get better. We have to remember that God has the master plan! He has it all in control.
UrbanBridgez.com: How was recording this album a different experience than recording your first studio album?
Tamela Mann: I guess because I’ve been in the background for so many years, from the first one till now I’ve learned alot of the ins and outs of recording. Me being independent (artists) as well, I can go in and change things. They don’t have to stay, meaning after I sit and listen to it, I can go back in and make the changes. And that’s what I did alot on this one, I was like no that doesn’t feel quite right, so I went in and maybe sang it a little differently or reworded it. So it really felt good, so like now I’m really geeked about this project because I feel like I was really stretched. Where as with the first one I sang and I just went in one mode, but this particular album I was stretched in different areas. I did a little urban stuff, I just didn’t stay in my traditional form.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about the writing you did for this album, I learned it was the first time you co-wrote?
Tamela Mann: I did! I did some writing..writing, not just co-writing (laughs). Like “The Master Plan,” I was on the plane. You know it just really adds to the lord, I wanted some songs that kind of sound deep, but on high. Something that would really bless the heart and that people could relate to. I was on the airplane headed to Baltimore and I was singing and the lyrics and the tune came to me at one time. I couldn’t believe it, because normally when I get on the plane I go to sleep. But I had a pad and I was just really going at it. It kind of happened with different experiences, like with “I Trust In You,” we were doing the stage play “What’s Done in The Dark.” We had a meeting and it kind of got a little heated & I was just a little rattled a little bit. So I was just like standing on the side waiting for my cue line to go in and it just dropped in my spirit, “I trust In you, when friends are few, all I have is you.” I started singing it and I just repeated it over and over, then my son went through something at school. I sung it for him and he was in tears, he started crying and was like Mom that song… he was like wow! Then I finished it. It’s so funny because the majority of the songs came to me when I was on the plane. I guess maybe I was closer to Heaven (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Will you be doing any live performances soon?
Tamela Mann: Yes I’m getting ready to do my biggest one. I performed in Florida recently at an Expo. And I’m also doing what I would say is my largest audience. I’m doing the COGIC Convention this Friday night (November 6) at the midnight musical, which is a big event. I’m doing it there and I’m performing at a big church in Baltimore this weekend as well.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve also made a name for yourself when you and your husband were apart of Kirk Franklin and The Family, what was your best experience being apart of such a successful gospel group?
Tamela Mann: You know, I think the best thing for me was just to be able to be apart. I was so happy, singing is my first love and I was just so happy to be singing. I was so poor growing up that I really didn’t get the chance to travel. In my memory book, and it’s written in my memory book till this day from highschool, that my desires were to travel and sing! So when that came about, at first it wasn’t even about trying to make any money. I was just happy to be singing. Just to be apart of the #1 gospel group, we set the trend for gospel music and how things changed going into the little Hip-Hop version (laughs). You know with the crossover, words can’t even express how happy I am, just to have been apart of that. I really learned alot of things from Kirk, being on the road and just singing in the background. I knew my purpose, that I was there to pray for him and to push him on. It wasn’t really about being seen, but when you get that chance to sing, you just give God your best! Give him your best at all times!
UrbanBridgez.com: Now let’s talk about Cora for a minute…
Tamela Mann: Ahh (laughs), Cora, Cora!
UrbanBridgez.com: (laughs) You’ve appeared in many Tyler Perry plays and now you have went from the stage plays to the big screen in some of his films & the small screen with his series, how did you first meet Tyler?
Tamela Mann: Actually David (Mann) met him first, after we did Kirk Franklin and The Family. We knew the same promoters that Tyler was working with for the play and he kind of set us up with meeting Tyler. David went and did an audition, he flew himself to Chicago and I didn’t go. So David kind of just told Tyler about me and he had already heard me sing with The Family. So Tyler was like oh yeah, David said we come as a package (laughs). So that’s how I came about meeting Tyler and we did that first stage play, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” in 1999. And really my role at first was to be Mr. Browns wife, then it switched. One of the young men who was playing the uncle decided to do something different. And Tyler was like well you’re gonna take that role and you will be my daughter, you’ll still be Cora but the daughter and the aunt. And that’s how that took place. He told David, get her ready! So David rehearsed with me over and over at home, then once I got back with him & did some rehearsal dates before the show opened back up. Tyler was like wow David you really worked her out, so he kind fine tuned me. One thing I’ve learned from him, he would say take yourself to a real place, when you’re acting. If you’re acting, it’s wrong. So if you take yourself to a real place it comes across and you can feel it. You can make the people feel it if they’ve been through whatever situation that is being played. They can put theirself in that position looking at you like I’ve been there! And Cora is really me, he allowed me to develop the character. Cora is Tamela in so many ways! I’m the encourager of my family, the one who tries to keep the peace, like with Mr Brown and Medea. The same for my own family.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s your favorite Tyler Perry production you’ve appeared in and why?
Tamela Mann: I think my favorite is “Diary of A Mad Black Woman.” Because I really had a chance to do something different. I also was really starting to like the acting thing. I was grabbing hold to it and I got a chance to be kind of sweet and I got a chance to be rough. Then it switching and me singing and just seeing how that all came together. I think “Diary of A Mad Black Woman,” is my favorite part in terms of acting, now my favorite show would be “Meet The Browns(laughs).”
UrbanBridgez.com: Speaking of my next question (laughs), you also costar on the very successful “Meet The Browns” series on TBS, what can fans expect this season, which starts Wednesday?
Tamela Mann: It’s some exciting episodes coming up! Mr Brown is the usual, he’s looking a mess (laughs). Cora, I kind of find me a little friend in the show and we’re developing that. We’re also going further into the teaching thing and Will is going through a little episode. It’s really alot to see, it’s a roller coaster with the laughter and then the drama, we have a little drama in there. We’ve been having alot of fun taping it and I really believe that if it makes us laugh, it’s going to make the people laugh.
UrbanBridgez.com: You and your husband David work so well together in everything you do, are there ever obstacles you two have faced when having to keep your working relationship separate from your personal?
Tamela Mann: You know I think we’ve learned, we’ve been married 21 years and we’ve been working together really the whole 20 years. With the music and doing theater and stuff, so we’ve learned when we get to work, it’s work. Even if we’ve had a disagreement, we’ve learned to go ahead an squash it when we come to work. And there will be times on the set where he will try to coach me and I’ll be like don’t tell me that right now (laughs). We’ve just learned to know when and when not to go into something. Like if we disagree with something, we’ll just say okay. Once we get in the car or back home we’ll talk about it and get a good understanding. We’ve learned to always get an understanding in whatever the situation is.
UrbanBridgez.com: What else can fans expect from Tamela Mann in the upcoming future?
Tamela Mann: You can expect more music, I got some new hot videos coming out. I got the video coming out for “The Master Plan,” I’m so excited about it. I’m telling you, the production is hot! For a gospel video, it’s hot Aries (laughs)! I’m really so excited, I guess because it’s some stuff that’s so different for me. You know with the urban tunes and tracks are so different for me than just the band. And the horns we used on the CD, I mean you won’t be disappointed! I want everybody to go out and pick it up, you won’t be disappointed at all. It’s something to hear and it’s really going to bless you. Young and old, I even went back and I did “The Lords Prayer,” to end the CD. I’m telling you, it’s just the icing on the cake! It’s really a blessing. I’m learning to talk about me, because normally I’m just not into me like that (laughs). You know some people don’t mind, shaking their own bush. But I really feel modest about that because I don’t want anybody to ever think, I think it’s about me! I just really want them to remember the message that I’m talking about, which is Jesus Christ! And that we’re able to touch peoples lives and to bring joy through the songs that minister to you in that time of need. That’s what it’s all about, that we get the good news out. Which is the Gospel!
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Tamela Mann: I just want to thank everybody for going to pick it up and go to Me and David’s Facebook, hit me up and tell me what you’re thinking. I always want to know what you’re thinking and I’m going to be leaving some messages and video spots on there. To keep you updated with what we’re doing. Remember, all things work together for the good of them and love the lord!