by Matt Conner
David Mann is used to the spotlight.
As a renowned actor, singer and comedian, Mann is likely most familiar to fans as a regular in Tyler Perry’s work. However, his career has taken him from backing Kirk Franklin as part of The Family to starring in his own hit television show like It’s a Mann’s World. Yet despite his extensive experience on the stage and screen, David Mann has put off his most recent project—an album with his talented wife, Tamela Mann—because he was intimidated.
If that sounds ridiculous, it’s understandable, but Mann has good reason to be a bit nervous about singing along with his wife of 30 years. Tamela’s powerful vocal has garnered a Grammy nomination as well as numerous accolades such as Dove Awards, Stellar Awards, a BET Award, an NAACP Image Award and more.
Fortunately, a chance to write a book together to celebrate 30 years of marriage, Us Against the World, afforded the power couple a chance to also share their ministry in music.
“The book came first, but writing it together inspired us,” said Tamela. “For so many years, people have asked us about doing an album together and I’ve been trying to get David into the studio for years and years and years, so the book inspired the album.”
“Honestly, I’ve always been intimidated to sing with her,” explained David. “She’s been trying to get me to do so many projects with her, but when you’re talking about one of the greatest voices in any genre of music, it was quite intimidating. Once I got in there, got comfortable with the songs, and realized we’re talking about our love for each other, the songs felt tailor-made for me. I became comfortable and felt like, ‘Hey, I can do this!’”
The Mann’s new album shares the same title as the book, and Tamela said the ability to finally come together on an album was worth the wait. In fact, she was quite proud of her husband.
“Actually, I think he outsang me,” said Tamela. “It was great to have him in the studio with me. It exceeded what I thought it would be. These songs were made for his voice. I think he did an incredible job in the studio. To hear it being played back after being mixed and mastered, I’m very excited about how things turned out.”
The book and music project together have enhanced the Mann’s ability to minister to others by sharing the lessons learned from three decades of marriage in the spotlight. However, the Manns also admit that the projects helped them to learn even more about themselves than they knew before.
“When we started writing the book, it actually became a learning opportunity for us as well,” said David. “We started learning so much more about each other that we didn’t know or understand. For us, it was one of those opportunities to dig deeper, which allows us to help other people. Now I’m able to understand her more and I have a bigger, more compassionate heart for her and the ministry of what we do.”
Tamela admits such projects like the book can feel a bit vulnerable, but she knows the power of a shared story makes it worth all the effort.
“People are going to have something to say either way,” she says. “Even if you don’t put it out there, people will have something to say anyway. The bottom line is that I want our lives, our stories to be able to help somebody else. That’s what it comes down to for me.”