B.E. Mann, also known as the “Energy Man,” has been bringing reggae and dance hall music to club, bar and concert goers in Northeast Ohio for nearly three decades.
Now, after 27 years of recording and performing at a breakneck pace — he’s done 36 performances in the past 40 days — Mann, 43, is leaving the many bars and clubs and the state of Ohio behind with more than 3,300 live shows under his belt. His accomplishments include a darn good radio show, Reggae Rhythms From Around the World, that he’s hosted for 20 years on WAPS (91.3-FM) “the Summit” and 27 albums that garnered him six No. 1 songs in eight European countries. He was named an MTV artist of the month and fronted the group Identity, which recorded for Island Records in the ’90s.
Mann is leaving behind the Energy Man and Ohio for a combo platter of professional and personal reasons.
“As far as the business side, I can still perform and do all my shows, but the economy has been in such a decline for the past few years now, I’ve had 13 places that were regular staples for me that went out of business,” Mann said.
Add the high cost of filling your tank to drive from gig to gig and his overhead rises significantly.
The other primary reason is spiritual.
“I've always been a Christian. My music always has been about positivity and though it’s good-time music it’s always had kind of a message,” he said. “But last year, I got baptized and I realized that all the worldly things I worried about with my music really haven’t served a bigger purpose about Jesus Christ and God’s message and I just feel it’s time for me to start my new chapter.
“I'm still going to do reggae music because that’s my blood, my bread and butter but I’m going to shift a lot of the lyrics. I won’t be preaching, but I’m going to cater it like bands like U2 do.”
Mann said he won’t miss being in clubs and bars performing for up to four hours on 200 nights out of every year, but he still will record and release music, which he plans to give away as free downloads from his new home “way, way down South.”
“I'll do functions here and there if it’s for a cause or a purpose and of course I'll be in church singing my head off,” he said.
Mann, an Akron Central-Hower High School graduate, was born in Texas, but moved to Ohio as a youth. He said another reason he’s leaving is the weather.
“It seems like it’s dreary nine months out of the year,” he said “I’m starting a whole new chapter, a whole new life and trying to cut loose all the ends that may be kind of tempting or wanting me to stay put.”
That being said, Mann has no regrets about his career and said he feels blessed.
“Even though it’s been a lot of hard work, I’ve been able to do what I love for a living and especially in the music world it’s a slim margin of people who get to do that,” he said.
“And though it wasn’t part of God’s work or anything like that, I still brought people together and was able to have a lot of life experiences that were positive that enriched me and made me grow as a person.”
Mann recently graduated from ITT with a degree in electrical engineering and said he is looking forward to having a day job where the work day actually ends after he punches the time clock.
As for his musical career epitaph in Ohio, Mann said he hopes he left folks feeling better.
He thanked his fans for “all the years of love and support” and said he hopes that “if they remember me, that they would remember that it was always positive and we always had a good time.”
At his shows, Mann said, he tried to take people out of their daily lives and make “them feel like they were on a vacation or getting away from their regular life, I hope I was able to do that for them.”
As he makes his final run of shows, Mann will be selling copies of his CDs, including his latest and last, appropriately titled Last Call, while MP3 download versions will be available at iTunes, Amazon.com, CDBaby, Rhapsody and other online digital download stores.