David and Tamela Mann could easily be the next first family of gospel, but that might be selling the Christian power couple short.
The Manns are not only gospel singers – they perform as part of the annual JoyFest gospel concert Saturday – they are actors who have appeared in a number of Tyler Perry stage, film and TV productions.
The Manns recently appeared on the reality TV show “It’s a Mann’s World” on BET, which the couple is juggling with a new sitcom for Bounce TV (“Mann & Wife”) while pitching their own cooking show elsewhere.
“It was a little strange at first, but I made up my mind I’ve made the agreement,” says Tamela Mann of letting a camera crew into her home. “For eight weeks, mentally we got ourselves together. It wasn’t as invasive as we thought it would be, but when time came for them to leave I was ready.”
While reality TV can be notoriously trashy or scripted, the Manns wanted to focus on the work that goes in keeping a family together.
“For us it was putting our family out there like that to encourage other families to stay together. Family is all you have. We have to learn to forgive each other and love each other and you have to work at it,” she says. “(It’s) not trying to destroy each other with words. We need to build each other up.”
Mann has received positive feedback, especially for the episode where her husband confronts his absentee father.
“When David did the episodes with his father even people in the industry called to say it helped them touch base with their fathers,” says Mann, 48. “A lot of us are raised without our fathers being in the house and so much animosity builds up. It just encouraged so many people in that way that they’re not the only ones going through these things, with the hurt and the letdown of someone not being there.”
The Manns sometimes draw on their own experience for the fictional Bounce TV sitcom as well. The couple, who played father and daughter in “Perry’s Meet the Browns,” are now cast as a newly married couple.
“I had one episode where (my character) had to explain to (her husband’s) son that I’m not trying to take the place of your biological mother. The same thing happened with me and my girls because our family is blended,” she adds.
Mann, who admits she was nervous singing for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in April (“I never want to take it for granted that I’m just going to go out and kill,” she says), is looking forward to her second time at JoyFest, which places a lineup of Christian singers, rappers and comedians on one stage.
“It’s different between singing outside. It’s a different vibe. It’s almost like freedom, to see the sky with the Lord looking straight down on us,” she says. “It’s just us, the sky and the Lord.”
Courtney’s blog: cltsoundbites.blogspot.com
The Manns play the JoyFest gospel festival with Fred Hammond, Tye Tribbett, Dee-1, Jonathan McReynolds, Humble Tip, comedian Bone Hampton, and PG.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Carowinds Palladium, 14523 Carowinds Blvd.