By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
Fortunately, Mann has figured out a way to beat the system. Although she'll never get much airplay on triple-A radio, she's gotten just enough exposure on TV and film to reach a small but loyal audience. She's the first to admit that she's unusually lucky: "I got a lot of recognition from the Magnolia thing, so my profile was large enough to be able to parlay that into a distribution deal and get records in the stores and have people know who I was enough to sell a few records, even without a big company marketing and promoting the record for me. I'd imagine that I have it easier than most people do."
Under the circumstances, it's no surprise that Mann's a big fan of the television series The West Wing, that liberal-arts fantasyland where smart people prevail and justice is served without soul-killing compromise. When the producers asked her a few months back to film a performance for an episode set at a Rock the Vote function, she jumped at the chance. "It was really a last-minute thing," she says. "They wanted me to be sort of a backup because they wanted Joan Armatrading to do a song but didn't think they could get her in the country in time. I'm a big fan of the Wing, so I was happy when it turned out she couldn't do it. They really wanted this James Taylor song ["Shed a Little Light," from 1991's New Moon Shine], so I went to the studio and recorded it in a day, and then we filmed it a couple of days later."
Even the enlightened Bartlet administration isn't ready for a Mann original, it seems. But at least she's getting heard in the real world.