Denise Neil

November 4, 2012

‘Wonderful things happening’ for Wichita native Chris Mann

Chris Mann has an album now.

Chris Mann has an album now.

He also has a “team.”

When reporters want to talk to Mann on the phone these days, they must pre-arrange the chat with a member of the Chris Mann Team. Then a member of the Chris Mann Team will call the reporter at said time and identify herself as a member of the Chris Mann Team. Then, she’ll connect the reporter to the Mann.

It’s all very big-time.

A year after he first auditioned for “The Voice,” the NBC singing competition that gave Wichita native Mann the big break he’d been waiting for forever, Mann has just released his album, titled “Roads,” which includes an appearance by Christina Aguilera, his famous mentor on the show.

He also has a new Christmas album that’s available only at Walmart stores, and he’ll perform at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, which will air on NBC on Nov. 28. And Mann just found out that he’ll record his own PBS special, a concert with special guests that will run during television pledge drives. It will be recorded this week and should begin airing nationwide early next year.

“I’m running around with my head cut off,” Mann said during a phone call Thursday from Los Angeles, where he was preparing to perform for Barry Manilow at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Gala, where Manilow was being honored. “There are just so many wonderful things happening.”

Mann, 30, placed fourth on last season’s installation of “The Voice,” which began airing in February and ended in May.

A 2000 graduate of Southeast High, Mann started vocal lessons at age 15 at Wichita State University. While in high school, he worked in two Music Theatre of Wichita companies.

He moved to Los Angeles after he graduated and landed several high-profile gigs. He recorded his own album; performed on soundtracks for “Glee,” “Sex and the City 2” and “Avatar”; toured with singer India Arie and “Glee” and “Wicked” star Idina Menzel; and sang on commercials. In late 2010, he was cast as a Warbler, a popular group of singers on “Glee,” and he appeared on several episodes.

He auditioned for “The Voice” last October, beginning a journey that Mann said helped him identify himself as a classical-pop singer – a career-defining moment, he said.

Immediately after the show, Mann was offered a recording deal with the record label Faircraft/Universal Republic, and he’s spent the last several months recording his album.

It was released Tuesday and debuted in the top 10 on iTunes’ Pop Album Chart.

“The record is just gorgeous. It’s everything I’m happy to be putting out into the world,” Mann said. “It’s a fully orchestrated, beautiful record, but it has really diverse songs.”

The album is a 10-track collection of a few original songs and several Manned-up covers, the most buzz-worthy of which is his rendition of Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter” featuring vocals by Aguilera.

Mann also puts his own take on Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” and the classic “Ave Maria.” Mann also recorded “My Way,” which author Paul Anka tweaked to make the lyrics more appropriate for Mann.

He’ll likely be too busy to come back to Wichita, where his parents and sister live, for the holidays, but Mann expressed his gratitude to his hometown for voting for him on “The Voice” and helping him become what he is today: a star on the rise. With a team.

“It’s basically a year after I auditioned for ‘The Voice,’ and I can’t even believe all the things I have had happen,” he said. “It really is a dream come true – everything I always wanted and hoped I would be doing but had no idea how to get there. None of this would be possible if everyone at home hadn’t been so supportive of me.”

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