From Seattle PI:
Tamela Mann is one of the most-recognizable names in the contemporary Gospel music industry. Her tremendous success story and long string of accolades are even more impressive, however, when one considers the difficulty religious figures often have in attracting and maintaining secular audiences. Even so, Mann has captivated the hearts and minds of countless Americans for more than a decade — juggling time between her music ministry, as a solo artist and former member of Kirk Franklin and the Family, as well as her acting and singing performances in several Tyler Perry productions, which include stage plays, feature films and recurring roles on TBS’ House of Payne and Meet the Browns.
At the same time Meet the Browns became the #1-rated show in African-American households, Tamela Mann was hard at work on crafting her sophomore solo project, The Master Plan. Released via Tilly Mann on November 3, 2009, the album showcases four songs that she co-wrote: “I Trust in You,” “Here I Am,” “Anything for You,” and “In Him.” In addition, Tamela has an executive producer credit alongside her husband of 21 years, David Mann.
In support of the Master Plan’s release, Tamela Mann managed to squeeze some time out of her busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on the generational divide in Gospel music, “The Lord’s Prayer,” and the lasting influences of Kirk Franklin, Tyler Perry and a host of others.
I still get goose-bumps whenever I think about the time I saw you perform “You Deserve My Praise” during John P. Kee’s benefit concert a few years back. Even though I was a fan of the studio recording, Lord knows that the Spirit nearly knocked me off of my feet during your live set. What’s the back-story behind that particular song? Did Demarcus Williams approach you with the song?
Oh, Demarcus is such a wonderful talent. With that song, I asked if he had anything, and so he submitted that song and another song. When I first heard it, it was just a little rough draft with the music, so you can remember what it is — the lyrics and the harmonies. My husband, [David Mann], and the album producer – Myron Butler – heard it, and they were like, “I don’t know.” But I was like, “Y’all! You have to hear beyond what’s here right now.”
And it has really become one of my favorite songs. I just fell in love with it and I asked Demarcus if I could tweak it and make a few little changes. And he was like, “Sure. Sure.” It’s really one of my favorite songs, because the lyrics really taught me that God deserves the praise, you know? No matter what. He protects us, in all things, from dangers seen and unseen, and He keeps us, in the midst of the good and the bad, even when we want to just do whatever we want to do and think it’s right.
For God, you know, He still covers us in so many different areas: of where our parents, our grandparents, pray for you and even just other people just praying for you and you’re not even knowing it, how God still gets the praise. He deserves the praise, and we should give it to Him because of who He is. And that’s just kind of how that song came about.
Your mother served as a psalmist in church. Growing up and seeing her perform, in what ways did she knowingly or unknowingly encourage you to pursue your love for music?
By her pushing me, unknowingly, I guess. You know, you kind of fight it when you’re young. It’s like, “Why do I have to go to church all the time?” [laughing] But I think by her encouraging me — well, it wasn’t encouragement. It was like, “You just gotta go. You gotta go.” [laughing] When I saw her in the choir and leading songs, it was just such an encouragement. I really didn’t see it then, but I thank God for it now. At the time, I didn’t see it as an influence. I was thinking: “Wow, she making me go and she’s not making anybody else go.” But it turned out that that’s really how I fell in love and saw that singing was my passion.
You closed this particular album, [The Master Plan], with “The Lord’s Prayer.” Since it’s a very traditional song, is there a reason you wanted to close with that particular song?
Well, with David being one of the producers of the project, he really wanted it. I had done it at a lot of weddings and other little gatherings, and he thought I should do it over. He felt like it would be the perfect closer for the project and a good prayer for the people of God. Thankfully, it wound up being a blessing for so many people.