Tamela Mann talks collaborating with Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams on deluxe album release

The gospel powerhouse spoke with theGrio about the deluxe re-release of her album, “Overcomer,” her unexplainable bond with Kirk Franklin and working with Yolanda Adams for the first time.

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Tamela Mann is nearly three decades into her career and she’s still breaking records.

The release of her 2021 album, “Overcomer,” earned the gospel singer her ninth number one single on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart. 

Using that momentum, Mann dropped a deluxe version of the album in July with live recordings of some of the album’s songs and a new Kirk Franklin-penned track featuring gospel legend Yolanda Adams. 

With a role in the forthcoming movie musical “The Color Purple,” a growing plus-sized clothing line and three Stellar Awards under her belt, Mann’s career is reaching a new zenith.

She spoke with theGrio about the new version of “Overcomer,” and discussed her ongoing success.

Tamela Mann speaks during the 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 05, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

When you hear Mann’s voice, it’s clear that she’s giving it her all. She’s reaching from a place so deep within her to help deliver the word of Christ to all listeners. With “Overcomer,” Mann expanded her impressive solo catalog, but it wasn’t enough for her. As much as she likes the studio, she said it doesn’t compare with being on stage. 

For the deluxe version of “Overcomer,” she released live recordings of four songs on the album: “Help Me,” “He Did it For Me,” “Final Answer” and “Finished.”

“With live [recordings], to me, it’s like a rollercoaster, it gives you a whole other ride,” Mann told theGrio. “It takes you to a whole other place.”

Mann plans for her next project to be a full live album.

“So, my next record, hopefully, all this [COVID] will be out of the air where I can do a whole live recording. That’s my next goal,” she said.

Even with the tremendous live re-dos, the jewel of the “Overcomer: Deluxe Edition” is the addition of “Superheroes Prayer,” a poignant duet with Yolanda Adams. It was a song that required Mann to be more subdued and restrained in her vocal delivery than in her other songs.

She said Franklin presented her with this track because he envisioned her singing in elegant, high-profile venues like Adams and CeCe Winans.

He was like, ‘I got this song and I really want to see you in a different light,’” Mann said of Franklin. “He said, ‘because everybody knows that you can wail and you hit these high notes and stuff like that. But I want you to have some music where we can go on to different audiences, like The Kennedy Center.’”

Thematically, “Superheroes Prayer” was much more front-facing with its social commentary than anything Mann has recorded. It’s a thinly-veiled call to depend on God to heal the ills of society – like police brutality – when our leaders continue to fall short. 

“What I get out of it is that we are searching for our society or our government to answer questions and to meet the needs when sometimes I really feel like we need to remember that the Lord is always there and He is the superhero,” Mann said.

“If anybody can fix it, He can fix it. We’re looking for man to fix it. Sometimes we need a higher power, honestly. And that’s where the superhero part comes in, that Jesus is a superhero.”

The song marked Mann’s first in-studio duet with Adams, a four-time Grammy Award winner. Although Mann has toured with Adams in the past, she admitted that being in the studio with her was nerve-racking.

“I was shaking in my boots. I was really nervous because she’s like the GOAT. She’s legendary,” Mann recalled. “I had excitement and nervousness at the same time.”

Any trepidation Mann may have had dissolved away, making for a true standout on the deluxe edition of “Overcomer.” She credited Franklin for his prodigious songwriting and production. She and the gospel legend have been longtime friends and collaborators, making magic on songs like Franklin’s “Lean on Me” and Mann’s “Take Me to the King.” 

When attempting to think about what has made their partnership endure great success for so long, she tearfully expressed that the bond is unexplainable. “I really don’t have an answer, and I don’t even think he understands it. But we just know it happens.”

She continued: “It brings me to tears because I’m so grateful and I’m proud of him. But to just see us, I’ve been knowing him since he was 15 years old and now we’re both in our fifties, you know, and it’s just a blessing that we’re still friends and we can still work together and pull that out of each other. And I’m just really grateful to have him.”

Mann expressed even more gratitude when discussing her recent wins at the 2022 Stellar Awards. She took home two trophies for “Overcomer”: the Albertina Walker Female Female Artist of the Year and Contemporary Female Artist of the Year.

Mann has a lot to be grateful for with a number one single in the mix, but insists that spreading the gospel through song is the most important thing. 

It’s all about the lyrics and what the messages are of the songs, because we never know what songs are gonna take off and what’s going to make you say number one, or for the people to like it,” Mann said. “But I’m so grateful. I’m just so grateful that it’s resonating with people.”

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