Chris Mann hopes to become the first university trained opera singer to win a major TV talent show. And he just might have a chance. Mann, 29, already has a huge built in following from his appearance on the hit FOX TV series, GLEE.
1. Why did you audition for ‘The Voice’ instead of ‘American Idol’?
From a very logical standpoint, THE VOICE doesn’t discriminate against age and they don’t discriminate against accomplishment. I felt that in the past, there wasn’t a place for me on these shows because they mainly focus on young pop styles. I’m 29 and I’m singing classically. And when I saw THE VOICE last year, it just resonated with me how much focus was placed on actual talent and not drama and anything else that really isn’t as important as the artistry itself. So I was chomping at the bit to have an opportunity to be on that stage and let my music speak for itself.
2. You have a bit of a built in fan base from appearing on “Glee”…
I’m tickled to death to be associated with GLEE. I was in the original Warblers group and actually, I did for a dare on Chris’s first episode, I was on there with “Teenage Dream” and I also did the first sectionals, which was Hazel’s sister, the Train Song. Working on Glee is the most fun thing I’ve ever done — up to THE VOICE. But I actually made a decision after the second episode… I found I had a tour planned for my solo career, and they wanted me to stay on with the group. That would have prevented me from doing the tour that I’d already committed to. So I made a decision that I was going to (pursue) my dream, take a chance and walk away from Glee.
And I did that. Then The Warblers then blew up and I felt like I had made a huge mistake. The Gleeks, the Gleek fans, are unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. So I will accept and be thankful for any support that they want to offer me during THE VOICE and I certainly don’t think that that is going to be a hindrance, if anything I’m just very thankful for that.
3. What was the blind audition like for you?
I was nervous when I went up for that blind audition. I didn’t know if anyone was going to turn around for me. Obviously I hoped that somebody would, just because I was doing the Italian song and I didn’t know if it was going to resonate.
4. Anyone special you would really love to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Josh Groban or Celine Dion, I know that she, you know, in a totally different area of music compared to sort of like the cool rockers on the show, but my dream has always been to sing on stages all over the world in a classical sense. So working with Josh would be amazing.
5. What were you up to before THE VOICE? Any cool jobs?
I had just finished going to – I went to college for music, I studied opera in college in Nashville. And I was at making that decision what to do next. I graduated college and I started working for Bank of America as a bank teller, just to pay the bills. Then I used that job to transfer myself to Rockefeller Center in New York, that’s how I was able to get to New York.
On top of working at the bank, I worked as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant down in Greenwich Village When I wasn’t working during the day or waiting tables at night, I was performing in New York. And that’s how I eventually got heard. So I definitely did many, many jobs outside of music. I sang in church and classically in New York and then when I moved to LA did a lot of film and television singing as well.