Mandisa, 'American Idol' star and Grammy-winning Christian music singer, dies at 47

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Mandisa, the Christian music singer who competed on “American Idol” and then pursued a Grammy-winning career, has died. She was 47.

A representative confirmed to The Times on Friday that the California-born artist “was found in her home [in Tennessee] deceased.”

“At this time, we do not know the cause of death or any further details,” the representative said in a statement. “We ask for your prayers for her family and close-knit circle of friends during this incredibly difficult time.

K-Love, a Christian radio station, first reported the news of Mandisa’s death Friday morning. David Pierce, the station’s chief media officer, praised Mandisa for her devotion to Jesus and God.

“Her kindness was epic, her smile electric, her voice massive, but it was no match for the size of her heart,” Pierce said in a statement. “Mandisa struggled, and she was vulnerable enough to share that with us, which helped us talk about our own struggles. Mandisa’s struggles are over. She is with the God she sang about now. While we are saddened, Mandisa is home. We’re praying for Mandisa’s family and friends and ask you to join us.”

The singer, born Mandisa Lynn Hundley on Oct. 2, 1976, is a five-time Grammy-nominee who earned her first prize in 2014 for her album “Overcomer.” The 22-track album also earned Mandisa a gospel/contemporary Christian music performance nomination at the 56th Grammy Awards. Her Grammys haul also included two pop/contemporary gospel album nominations and a contemporary Christian music album nod.

Years before earning her first Grammy nomination, and eventually her sole Grammy win, Mandisa showcased her talents on Season 5 of “American Idol.”

“Mandisa … just ‘Mandisa‘” was how the singer introduced herself in 2006 to judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, before belting the opening notes of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin.’”

“Terrific, everything I hoped you would be you were that, Mandisa,” Cowell said, “and I like the fact that you want to be known as one person.”

Without hesitation, the trio of original “Idol” judges sent Mandisa along to Hollywood, the next step on a weeks-long journey that would end with her cracking the Top 10 finalists. She was eliminated after her performance of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine,” which landed her in the bottom three.

“I want to thank my fans so much, your support has meant the world to me and the prayers that have been lifted up for me I know will continue to have full force for me,” she said upon her elimination. “I thank you, and I bless you in the name of Jesus.”

After her time on “American Idol,” Mandisa released her first album, “True Beauty,” in 2007. The debut album earned Mandisa her first Grammy nomination. Also known for albums “Freedom” and “What If We Were Real,” Mandisa worked with a variety of Christian artists throughout her career, including TobyMac, Kirk Franklin and Jon Reddick, according to K-Love.

Mandisa released her final album, “Out of the Dark,” in 2017, featuring songs “Unfinished” and “Bleed the Same.” The 18-track project shares its title with her 2022 memoir, which chronicles her rise to fame and the challenges that tested her faith. That came years after she released her first memoir, “Idoleyes,” in 2008.

“Even in our darkest and lowest moments, God is in the trenches with us. He’s always at work on our behalf, loving on us and carrying us up out of the dark,” Mandisa wrote in an Instagram post celebrating her 2022 memoir. “He NEVER fails. I’m forever thankful that He keeps hope alive.”

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