Completion is a beautiful goal, yet it can be so hard to attain. It’s something most of us wrestle with throughout our lives and Tamela Mann is no exception. It’s a concept that surfaces throughout her new album Overcomer, a compelling collection of songs that takes the listener on the journey Tamela has been traveling the past few years.
On Overcomer, Tamela has been more involved than ever in the songwriting, lending her input to nearly ever track. Never has her creative vision been more powerful or her heart more open than on this collection of poignant songs. During the past several years, Tamela has dealt with physical challenges including double knee replacement surgery and a dramatic wellness journey, while joining the rest of the country in dealing with the emotional stress of the pandemic and political and racial upheaval. Tamela has sought God’s heart as she’s dealt with both the joys and challenges of life, and pours her hard-earned wisdom into her music.
“On this album, I’m really putting my life into music, putting my heart and soul into words,” the Grammy® Award-winner shares. “It’s me looking at my life and the things I was dealing with and doing what I can to overcome those things.”
The result is an album filled with songs listeners will relate to that offer much-needed hope and encouragement. The first single, “Touch from You,” has already hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel chart, becoming her seventh No. 1 single in the format. Tamela’s hit-laden career includes such memorable songs as “Change Me,” “God Provides” and the Platinum-selling No 1 classic “Take Me to the King” from her chart-topping album Best Days, which was named Billboard’s Gospel Album of the Decade (2010-2019). An accomplished actress, songwriter, producer, and businesswoman, Tamela has earned numerous accolades. In addition to scoring a Grammy®, Tamela is also a BET Music Award winner, Billboard Music Award Winner, NAACP Image® Award Winner, Gospel Music Stellar Award Winner and multiple GMA Dove Award recipient.
Whether on screen, in a film or TV show, or on stage belting out one of her many hits, Tamela is a consummate communicator with a gift for bringing audiences closer to God. She does so again in the songs on Overcomer. The album opens with “Finished Work,” a nearly seven-minute opus co-written with Todd Dulaney. “It’s all about everything He’s begun in us, He’s going to complete in us,” she shares. “I thought ‘Finished Work’ would be a great song to start the album and I hope it will encourage people.”
Released last year during the height of the pandemic, “Touch From You” has served as a healing balm to a hurting world. Propelled by the Grammy® Award winner’s strong, passionate voice, the song’s lyric is a poignant reminder of God’s sovereignty in these troubled times. “People are praying now more than ever,” Tamela says. “One part of the song says, ‘Can you hear the voices of your people crying out?’ People are crying out for so many different things. We are needing God’s touch. We need a refreshing. We need to know that the Lord is with us.”
Tamela has never been more vulnerable in her music than she is on Overcomer. Working with an all-star team of producers including Phillip Bryant, Jevon Hill, Kirk Franklin, Travis Green, Dontaniel Kimbrough, Todd Dulaney, Shaun Martin, Rickey “Slikk” Offord, and Stanley Green, she has crafted an album that shares her heart.
On the tender ballad “Help Me,” she passionately cries out to God. “A lot of the songs are about what I was dealing with in my personal life,” says Tamela. She enlisted the quartet, The Fellas, to lend their vocals to the tune. “Because we were doing old school, I wanted the quartet sound,” she says. “They are young, contemporary guys but still have an old school flair and new sound. I thought they would give it the grit it needs.”
Famed rapper Wyclef Jean and Franklin join Tamela on the Caribbean-flavored “Hello God.” “I was in the studio working with Kirk on one of the songs and I said, ‘I would really like to do a Caribbean song. I’ve never done one,’” Tamela says. “Later Kirk called and said that Wyclef had a song that he thought I’d like. Wyclef and Kirk wrote the lyrics to it.
“When we wake up in the morning, we speak to everybody in our house, and say hello. Why don’t we wake up and say hello to God and thank Him for this day? ‘Hello God’ is like a breath of fresh air that lightens the mood. I wanted to simply blow a kiss to God and say ‘hello.’”
Tamela gives God all the credit in “He Did It For Me.” “That song was birthed out of looking at my life and saying, ‘Okay I did accomplish it. I did lose 50 lbs.,’” Tamela says of the celebratory anthem. “It talks about how the Lord is helping me reach my goals. There were people asking, ‘How is she able to do all of this?’ And that led to the lyrics for ‘He Did It For Me.’”
“Source” is another song that speaks of the Lord’s presence and strength, and the peace He brings. “God is the source and my go-to when I’m lost. I can’t do anything without Him, and I never want to try to,” says Tamela. “I fell in love with the song, and I cried recording it because what is says to me is so meaningful to me. It’s speaking to God saying, ‘You are my source and I need you for the air that I breathe, the direction I need to go. You are my everything.’”
Tamela also celebrates the strength found in God’s sovereignty on “Conqueror,” a passionate song that showcases the power in her impressive vocals. “We are more than conquerors But a lot of times we have to keep repeating it to ourselves. It’s something we should say every day,” Tamela says.
That message is most boldly voiced in the album’s title track “Overcomer.” “We’re faced with so many different things. There are so many obstacles,” she admits. “We’ve climbed mountains and gone through valleys, but we can overcome, we have overcome.”
The album closes with one of Tamela’s favorite new songs, which she wrote with Travis Green. “‘Finished’ comes at the end, and it gives the album a period.” She says she loves that the lyrics declare, “He who has begun a work in me is faithful to finish what He started.”
Overcomer is just the latest accomplishment in a busy music and acting career. After making five albums with Kirk Franklin and his pioneering group, The Family, Tamela began acting and discovered a love for the theater. It was at that time Tyler Perry recruited her and her husband, NAACP Image® Award winning actor David Mann, to appear as the beloved “Mr. Brown” and “Cora” in his play, I Can Do Bad All By Myself. They continued to work with Perry in his plays and such hit films as Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea Goes to Jail and 2011’s Madea’s Big Happy Family. She and David also starred in the film and long-running hit TBS comedy, Meet the Browns. Tamela and David released their first book and joint album, Us Against the World. The book won an NAACP Image® Award for Outstanding Literary Work and the album continues to garner top-charting singles including the Urban AC track, “Ups & Downs.” Together they star in the new Tyler Perry comedy, Assisted Living, and two upcoming films, Soul Santa, airing on BET this Christmas season, and the new “Madea” movie coming to Netflix. Tamela and David appear in the digital series, Mann Family Dinner, which also features the Mann’s kids and other family members, sitting around the dinner table discussing a range of interesting and sometimes provocative topics. And, in her latest venture, Tamela launched her own successful athleisure line, the Tamela Mann Collection, which has fast become a popular staple in the athleisure apparel space.
From the sheer volume of her accomplishments, it wouldn’t seem Tamela has problem finishing what she starts, yet she admits she’s sometimes prone to procrastination and completion has been an issue for her. After hearing a sermon from her pastor, she says it became a priority. “My theme is completion. My pastor preached coming into the New Year by staying focused and finishing,” the Texas native shares. “So, I took that as a theme for myself. I said, ‘I’m going to stay focused, stay in my purpose, and I’m going to finish.’”
In addition to making new music, films, writing a book, launching an apparel line, and working on new television shows, Tamela has also been among those marching for racial justice. “It was with my son, my daughters, my grandkids, and David. We were all walking together,” she says. “I got this big lump in my throat, and before I knew it, I was crying because of how the experience was moving me. I was born in 1966. In 1968, they were marching with Martin Luther King and now we’re still marching for those same causes. Our world has changed some, but it hasn’t changed enough.”
After a year of evolution and change in her own life, Tamela has emerged as a stronger, swifter butterfly ready to take on the world. “I feel like a new vessel and that I’ve been given another opportunity to represent for Him,” she continues. “It’s not about me. My heart’s desire is to get His message out, to let people know He cares about us. There’s still love, hope, and compassion in the world. It’s the opportunity for me again to show His love and His grace. That’s my purpose in life and for this album.”