Soon, Mann and the guys became fast friends and they asked her to join the group - a gig that lasted for two years. After a while, David and Mann became an item and married in 1988. David had gone to O.D. Wyatt High School with Kirk Franklin, so when Franklin formed his Family choir, he asked David and Daryl to become members. Eventually, Tamela joined too and Kirk Franklin & the Family hit the gospel world with the crossover hit "The Reason Why We Sing" in 1993.
Over the years, Mann led such Kirk Franklin & the Family classics as "Behold the Lamb" and "Lean on Me" which also featured Bono and R. Kelly. Even during that period, the Manns had their share of problems. "We were living off of potatoes," she says. "Mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, baked potatoes because that's all we could afford." They were so broke at one point that they attached wire hangers to their car windshield wipers and pulled on them manually during a rainstorm because they could not afford to get them fixed. When they weren't performing with the Family, Mann worked in the optics field and David was a hairdresser at the Fantastic Beauty & Barber Shop in Ft. Worth, Texas.
In 1996, Mann joined the David E. Talbert gospel stage play, He Say...She Say...But What Does God Say? And got the acting bug. She and David left the Family in 1999 and a few weeks later were recruited for Tyler Perry's first stage play, I Can Do Bad By Myself where she played the character of Cora-Madea's spiritual but giggly daughter and the lovable daughter of Mr. Brown in the production. Afterwards, Mann played in Perry's musical comedy Diary of a Mad Black Woman in 2001. She played the character of Myrtle-a bit of a feisty, preachy woman who was never short on words. In a relatively short period of time, Mann's exemplary performances paved the way for Cora to become a principal character in Perry's other successful stage comedies Madea's Family Reunion and Madea's Class Reunion.
In January 2005, Tyler Perry launched Meet the Browns with the Manns as the star of the sold-out show, which ran for six months around the country. Around the same time, the couple opened their own recording label, Tillymann Music. Their first project is Mann's debut CD Gotta Keep Movin' which sold 7,000 copies in the first week and has since sold over 60,000 copies. The single "Speak Lord" has spent a dozen weeks in the Top Ten on Billboard magazine's gospel singles chart. Tamela's career ontinues to build momentum as she tours the country in support of the project.
It's all part of the next chapter of the Mann's career in which they plan to speak at marriage seminars and continue making music. Many of Mann's dreams have now come true. She and David have built a 7,000-foot dream house with a commercial stove (Mann is an excellent cook) and other luxury amenities in Cedar Hill, Texas. But, amid her material blessings, Mann's heart is broken. Her mother, Mary Thompson, has Alzheimer's disease and lives in a nursing home. "She was really a good woman," Mann says as she holds back the tears. "I know God has his reasons for all things. My mother didn't deserve this. She doesn't know about any of these things that have happened to us. She's 79 years old and when I go to visit her, she doesn't know who I am. I wish my kids could know her the same woman I knew growing up. She would have been so proud of me and I just want to share this with her. She's alive but she's just here. I want her to be a part of this because she is a part of this. Without her, I would not have made it this far.