Mandisa, Grammy-Winning 'American Idol' Star, Passes Away at 47

Celebrating the impactful journey of a cherished musical icon.

by Nouman Rasool
Mandisa, Grammy-Winning 'American Idol' Star, Passes Away at 47
© Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

The celebrated singer, who won a Grammy Award and was a finalist in season 5 of "American Idol," Mandisa Hundley, has died at 47. According to her publicist, she was found dead in her house on April 18. The cause of death has yet to be ascertained.

Her family requests that their grieving and suffering be given space and covered in prayer. California native Mandisa was born in Citrus Heights and found herself on the road to a music career, prompting her to study at a college for music before her big break on 2005's "American Idol." Her powerful presence and soulful performances of the Chaka Khan song "I'm Every Woman" and Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" earned her an enthusiastic following among the show's viewers, and she finished in the competition's top 10.

Mandisa's Musical Legacy

Mandisa's career did not come to a halt, even though she left early. In 2007, she released her debut album, "True Beauty," and it made history when it debuted at No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums chart.

This marked her as the first female artist to top the chart upon its debut in the chart's 27-year history. She would go on to release six albums in her discography, as hit singles garnered multiple Grammy nominations and one award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album with her song "Overcomer." Her influence was not only in the musical field.

Mandisa was very vocal about her bouts of depression and weight struggles, which she chronicled in her 2002 memoir, "Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God's Joy." The book dealt very candidly with the battle of mental health, and the journey resonated with many.

She talked about the lowest lows and thought an intervention by close friends had done what it could to help her start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, a theme she often repeated in her music and public life. Mandisa's life was a story of resilience and faith.

Her work with artists such as TobyMac, Michael W. Smith, and Kirk Franklin was not only proof of her musical fluidity, but it was also proof of her reach to inspire and encourage others, regardless of what was going on in her own life.