Starring as Cora Simmons, the loving and churchgoing "but woe to those who cross me" daughter of Tyler Perry's beloved Deacon Leroy Brown and the iconic Madea Simmons on the hit TBS comedy Meet The Browns, TAMELA MANN makes millions laugh every week while she enjoys a unique personal double blessing. Continuing the role she originated in Perry's 2004 play and 2008 film of the same name, the sassy, high spirited multi-talented singer and actress plays a woman that, like her, is absolutely in love with Jesus–and is able to work on set every day with David Mann, her husband of 24 years who plays Leroy. Looking back on Tamela's extraordinary career, which began in the early 90's when she and David joined future gospel superstar Kirk Franklin & The Family, her success is truly part of The Master Plan, the name of her highly anticipated new gospel album.
Even as she's enthralled audiences with her comedic acting over the years as Cora in many of Perry's hit plays (I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Madea's Family Reunion, Madea's Class Reunion) and films (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea Goes To Jail), Tamela has never strayed far from her first love of singing. Touring and recording with The Family, she was a featured soloist on tracks like "Now Behold The Lamb" and the Grammy-nominated (for Song of the Year) "Lean On Me," which featured Mary J. Blige, Crystal Lewis, R. Kelly and Bono. Her explosive versions of "Father Can You Hear Me" and "Take It To Jesus" are included on the soundtrack album of Diary of a Mad Black Woman. After making her solo recording debut in 2004 with Gotta Keep Movin', she recorded the concert CD/DVD The Live Experience at Calvary Church in Dallas, which featured exciting new arrangements of the songs. A Top 20 Billboard Gospel Chart hit, this album earned Tamela 2008 Stellar Award nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year and Contemporary Female Artist of the Year.
While from her earliest days singing at the Holy Tabernacle in her hometown of Ft. Worth, Tamela has always considered herself a traditional gospel singer, on The Master Plan she incorporates more contemporary urban/R&B sounds under the guidance of Grammy Award winning producer Myron Butler (Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams) and another Perry regular, Terrell Carter. For the first time as a recording artist, Tamela is a co-writer on a handful of songs, including the title track, "I Trust In You," "Here I Am," "Anything For You" and "In Him." She also includes a stirring new arrangement of "The Lord's Prayer."
As Tamela recalls, a fascinating moment of divine inspiration gave rise to this extraordinary project: "I was on a plane flying to Baltimore when both the lyrics and the tune for the song 'The Master Plan' came to me. Because I'm still new at songwriting, it was kind of a shock to me the way it happened. In the past, either the music or words came first, but not both at the same time. I hadn't planned on recording a new album yet, but when I told David and my manager that the inspiration was poppin', they hooked me up with Myron and Terrell and things started taking shape. Songs would hit me at the strangest times. 'Here I Am" came on another flight, while 'I Trust In You' hit me as I was about to walk onstage to perform in 'What's Done In The Dark.' I knew that song was a keeper when my son David called me from college telling me about all the bad stuff his dorm mates were into–and after someone pulled a gun on him! I started singing 'I Trust In You' and he started weeping. To me, that's the power of music."
That trust and faithfulness, combined with an unimaginable amount of talent and drive, has brought Tamela to a place of gratitude and humility as she thinks back on her impoverished childhood in Texas where money was scarce, and struggles were ever-present. God and the sweet gospel sounds of Walter Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins, Andrae Crouch and the Clark Sisters were pretty much all she had to hold her together. She was the baby of 14 children born to a mother who had a third grade education and was largely unemployed. Tamela ultimately left home at 16 due to her verbally abusive stepfather. As an illustration of the family's struggles to survive, Tamela remembers him having the kids "dumpster dive" to find food.