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Advice to Chris Mann: Don’t change

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 25, 2012, at 12 a.m.

Like many Wichitans, I watched “The Voice” and continued to be amazed at the talent Chris Mann demonstrated week after week. And I was one of the people who thought he was “robbed” and should have won. That’s OK, though. The young man with the killer blue eyes is doing just fine. His rising star looks more like a rocket.

His hometown loves him and proved it at his June 16 concert at the Orpheum Theatre. And he loves his hometown right back. He said so when I got to talk with him briefly after the show. “No one on ‘The Voice’ could believe the support I got from Wichita. They were jealous,” he said.

As he grew more and more famous on “The Voice,” I kept thinking I had met him or knew him from somewhere. I thought maybe he’d been part of a fashion shoot, then I wondered if he had worked somewhere I frequent – Larkspur, perhaps? But the first thing he said to me was, “We were in a Music Theatre show one summer.” Ah, there it is. I wasn’t imagining it! He was in “Singin’ in the Rain” in 2000 when he was in high school. Now I can say I’ve shared the stage with Chris Mann.

Needless to say, Chris has proud parents, Patti and Mike Mann. “I was watching and thought, ‘I knew he can sing, but he can also talk to the audience.’ He was good,” his mom said. “And here he is a product of the Wichita public school system,” she added.

I’m hoping that “product” doesn’t change. I’ve seen a few fashion models leave Wichita and develop a personality that doesn’t reflect the fun, considerate Kansas kid they started out as. Some don’t want to say they’re from Wichita, so they claim to be from Kansas City, and they seem to forget the very people who put them on the road to success. That’s probably why I couldn’t resist giving the gracious and charming music man some advice, even though he’d probably already heard it. “Don’t change. Go be a star but don’t get too slick or you’ll hear from me,” I said.

He was being beckoned for a photo with some concertgoers, but he said, “I won’t, and let me hear from you anyway.”

Now I’m more of a Mannfan than ever, and it’s not just that voice, or the blue eyes, but the fact that he is from Wichita – and proud of it.

Come see me!

You’ve read my columns (thank goodness) and we’ve e-mailed and talked on the phone. I’ve spoken to your groups and organizations or borrowed merchandise from your store for a fashion shoot. You’ve modeled for the fashion pages or you’ve put up with me on television. Whatever the connection, I hope you’ll drop in at the retirement reception the nice people at The Eagle are giving me from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at 825 E. Douglas. I would love to see you.

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