Grammy Award-winning singer Tamela Mann released her latest album, Overcomer, this month and said despite her great success in Hollywood and gospel music, her primary goal is to honor God until the day she dies.
The singer, who's also an NAACP Image Award-winning actress, songwriter and producer, birthed her new Tillymann Music album after a trying few years in which she developed her strength and focused on her purpose. It was also the first time Mann used her voice, songwriting and production skills to create an album.
Wearing multiple hats, Mann, along with being a gospel singer, is known for her roles in Tyler Perry’s “Assisted Living,” “Madea” plays, films and the hit TV series “Meet The Browns.” She and her husband, David, have been together for over 30 years and often share their love story to inspire others. The couple released their first book and joint album, Us Against the World, in 2018.
Mann also recently launched her own successful athleisure apparel line, the Tamela Mann Collection. But despite all of her accomplishments, she wants her work, especially her new album, to draw people closer to faith in God.
“I just want to be able to put people's eyes back on God. Not their eyes be on me, but your eyes and your ears tuned in to what thus say the Lord. What is His desire for our lives and for our steps to be ordered by Him? So that's my focus, my goal until I die,” Mann emotionally shared with The Christian Post in an interview that can be watched in its entirety below.
The following is an edited transcript of Mann’s interview with The Christian Post, where she shares about her new album Overcomer, her ultimate goal in life, and responds to those who wonder why she's been so blessed by God in her life and career.
CP: This album is the first time that you're venturing into songwriting and producing, along with singing your music. How was that for you?
Mann: This album is based off a lot of things that I have been dealing with over the last five or six years. One would be my double knee surgery, then I got on the journey of health and wellness and to work on that, also with menopause. So going through all these things over the last few years, it kind of just gave me another story that's coming from me to help other women and other family members having to deal with different things that I just talked about. Weight has been a journey for me for my whole life, and I just wanted to talk about just overcoming. It's day by day. But part of the journey is to overcome.
This part of the journey, I've been praying and asking the Lord, of course, it's an everyday task [of], “Lord, I need help. If you could just help me help myself do better.” Even with my relationship with Him just being close with the Lord. So that's kind of how Overcomer came about.
CP: Listening to the album, what is evident is your sincerity. Sometimes when people sing for the Lord that passion gets lost over the years. Your music has maintained that genuineness. Where does that come from?
Mann: For me, it comes from a place of not having an earthly father, and not wanting to let my Heavenly Father down. So the purity for me is to make Him proud, ... to make Him proud in what He sees me doing. Because I do remember that the Lord sees everything that we're doing, and I just don't want to let Him down. That's a big part of it, is not letting Him down.
I just thank Him, and I constantly ask the Lord to keep the burning and the fire, just like I do for my relationship with my husband. It's been 33 years. I'm like, “Lord, keep my eyes on You, keep my eyes on him, and to desire nobody else but him and You.” I know the Lord is my first love and I keep myself in that place of thinking. “I want to make Him proud and not let Him down.
CP: You've had so much success and your focus on God is what has been very impactful to others. Can you talk about that?
Mann: I really don't get caught up in that. ... We are an independent record company and they tell me if something does hit number one ... because I don't really watch the charts. I read some of my comments, but I've never want to get caught up in that it's all about me. I want to keep the focus on that it's about the Lord and us reaching as many people as we can.
I'm not perfect in no way. I have flaws just like everybody else. But I just really, really mean Jesus. I really mean to get the word out and to help people. To be able to be tangible, to touch the people and the people to touch me. Yes, there are days that I get tired, like anybody else. Especially with this menopause thing. I'm like, “Lord, please let this cup pass me,” because I don't want to snap at anybody during those days that you just don't feel like it; let's just be honest.
David keeps me reminded, “Hey, you got to keep it together.” So I'm really working on that aspect and not get caught up into me — that it's all about getting people to Jesus.
CP: You're single "Help Me" says, "Help me to finish well." Christians usually start off on fire for God, but with time that fire can die down. What is it that helps you stay on course?
Mann: I do want to finish well, and I want to stay focused. But again, it's pleasing God.
That song came about of me realizing [while] I was talking to the producer who worked with me. And I was just talking to him that I came to a place in my life that I needed to just ask simply, “I need some help.” I keep hitting stumbling blocks; I keep trying the same thing but trying to vary off and do things my way. It's like a constant thing, 'Lord, I need you. I can't do without you.” It's like one song that's on the album "Source." “Lord, You are my source. You're my everything. I can't do anything without You.”
I cry out for help constantly because it's like a day-to-day thing, and I just really want to please God. I want to make it in. I want to hear Him say, “Well done.” So I do really want to finish well, and I think it's OK for us to ask for help.
A lot of times, we've run from that. Kind of like the video that we have out for "Help Me," we show that I'm talking to a therapist, and then it leads into the sanctuary because we know where our help comes from, which comes from the Lord. But sometimes, we need some earthly help.
I keep saying, I'm going to go see me a therapist, just to talk to somebody. Not that I'm in a bad place or anything, but just to have another outlet and just to encourage people to have another outlet.
CP: Can you expound on that because in some cultures therapy is not encouraged?
Mann: It's kind of shunned upon. "You're crazy if you go see a therapist." And that's not true. We run from it, but the Lord sent these people here to help us, and we ought to be helpers to one another.
If that's the case, that you need that mental health help, because especially with all the pandemic and us being locked down for so long, a lot of people within their four walls of their home kind of felt pressured, like extra pressure.
Out of the norm, all you see is just maybe your husband and your kids, and you're not seeing anybody else. I just think it's a good time for us to cry out to God to help us through this thing and help us through our day-to-day life.
CP: You have a collaboration with Wyclef Jean and Kirk Franklin. It was great to hear Wyclef share his testimony in your song. What was that like for you?
Mann: I had no idea that his father was a minister and him growing up in church. But so many of us, even artists that are R&B and other genres of music, the majority of us started in church. That's our foundation.
For him to be able to share that and let people know that, and for me to be able to help spread the word that yes, I may do rap and do R&B, but I still know the Savior. I still know where my help comes from. When I heard him talking about Moses and Aaron, I was like, yes!
We collaborated, since the COVID thing, from afar, and we just talked on the phone. I was in the studio with Kirk and I was like, “I want to do a Caribbean song.” I've never done anything like that besides with Kirk and I was like, "I really want to do one." We were working on one of the other songs that's on the album and he was like, “really?”
Time passed and we just kept working. A few days later, he had an interview with Wyclef. Wyclef played a clip of the chorus and [Kirk] was like, "I need that song for my sister Tamela Mann.” He was like, “We need to do this.” So he called me. I was like, the Lord heard me put that out there in the air and He just manifested that thing and it was incredible.
I just wanted to do something fun and the idea of us waking up every morning, we say good morning to everybody, but do we wake up and say, "Hello, Lord, thank you for this day?" It's just kind of like a breath of fresh air to just greet Him and just give Him thanks right away.
People are always looking for me to do a ballad and I was like, “I've got to give something else. I can't do a whole concert with slow music, people gonna be crying the whole time.”
CP: What is your favorite song on Overcomer right now?
Mann: I'm so happy about this body of work. To be able to collaborate on the majority of the songs I wrote on or gave the inspiration behind the song. "Help Me" is one of my favorites. My other favorite is called "He Did it For Me."
"He Did it For Me," is a place where I had done an interview and then I got word back of [someone saying], "How's is it that she can get these different mounds of work? How're all these things happening for her?"
It pricked my heart so bad. I'm like, "I really work hard." We work hard to be a small company and to keep this thing afloat, keep my family going and other people that we employ. I was like, "It's not me; it's God!" God has done this for us. He's provided for us by me being faithful unto Him. God has been faithful to us.
When we're home, I try to make sure that I go to Bible study to put my time in when I'm not on the road. I go to service if I'm home. I'll be involved with my church to help things come together when they need it. It's just not about money. Sometimes it's about putting our hands to work. A lot of times, we think when pastors ask for help, he's just always asking for finances, but they need somebody to come up there and clean up. They need somebody to come help pull things together, just extra hands.
"He Did it For Me," when I hear it, it makes me cry. It makes me really cry because it says, "The gifts I have, I may not deserve it, but He chose me."
I believe He chooses who He wants. He gives us the choice to choose Him, but I just thank God for the favor that He's placed upon my life. And again, I just want to represent Him well. I want Him to say, "Well done." I don't want to do all this and all this be in vain. I just want to reach the masses for Him. Not for my name to be cried out, but for His name to be cried out, and for His name to be great. God is faithful. He's so faithful to us, and I want Him to help me overcome, to stay focused, to finish.
I just pray that the word gets out and people realize that we do need a touch from the Lord. We do realize that He is our source. It's going to take Him to help us finish. We can't do this alone, and He is the superhero. He is the superhero that we need.
I know a lot of times in our world right now, we're in a place where people are becoming lovers of our own selves and we're forgetting the mark which is keeping our eyes on Him. I just want to be able to put people's eyes back on God. Not their eyes be on me, but your eyes and your ears are tuned in to what thus say the Lord. What is His desire for our lives and for our steps to be ordered by Him? So that's my focus, my goal until I die. I just, again, want to make my Lord proud, and I'm just grateful that He chose me.
CP: Is there something else you'd like to add?
Mann: The Tamela Mann collection. We're sizes from 12 to 32. It's comfortable clothes for your everyday woman. The people have really been a great support and for the ones who haven't tried it, try it. I'm all about the quality. I want good quality for us thick girls and want for us to be cute too.
I got a couple of movies coming out this fall. One with Tyler Perry, "Madea's Homecoming,” It's going to be on Netflix. Then I have another Christmas movie coming out on BET. It's called "Soul Santa," and me and David are co-starring in that. It's really cute. It's not so much funny, but it's like a seriousness that you get to see from us. So we showing another side of us.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: email@example.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic