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American Idol star and Grammy-winning singer dies aged 47

Mandisa was a contestant on season five of Idol

Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
19 April 2024
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Former American Idol contestant and Grammy-winning singer Mandisa has died aged 47. 

Mandisa Lynn Hundley – known professionally as Mandisa – was found dead in her Nashville, TN, home on April 18. Her cause of death is unknown. 

The singer's passing was confirmed by the Christian radio station K-Love. "Mandisa loved Jesus, and she used her unusually extensive platform to talk about Him at every turn," Chief Media Officer David Pierce said in a statement.

"Her kindness was epic, her smile electric, her voice massive, but it was no match for the size of her heart. 

singer mandisa dead aged 47© Getty Images
mandisa died aged 47 on April 18

"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." 

He added: "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." 

In 2017, Mandisa bravely opened up about her battle with depression following the death of a dear friend who lost their battle with breast cancer. As a result, she admitted that she contemplated taking her own life. 

"It got pretty bad – to the point where if I had not gotten off that road I would not be sitting here today," she said on Good Morning America.

"I was this close to listening to that voice that told me, 'You can be with Jesus right now, Mandisa. All you have to do is take your life.'" 

She added: "It almost happened. But God is what I say. He saved my life quite literally." 

american idol singer mandisa dead aged 47© Getty Images
Mandisa appeared on season five of American Idol

Mandisa appeared on the fifth season of American Idol in 2005, finishing in ninth place, and went on to have a successful career in Christian music. 

Following her Idol audition, judge at the time, Simon Cowell, sparked outrage when he made a negative comment about Mandisa's weight. 

After she left the judging room, Simon said to the camera: "Do we have a bigger stage this year?"

She later responded to his jibe, telling him: "What I want to say to you is that, yes, you hurt me and I cried and it was painful, it really was. But I want you to know that I've forgiven you and that you don't need someone to apologize in order to forgive somebody." 

simon cowell mandisa american idol© Getty Images
Simon apologized for his negative remarks about Mandisa's weight

She added: "I figure that if Jesus could die so that all of my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you." 

Simon was "humbled" by Mandisa's words and apologized to her, admitting his behavior was "appalling". 

In May 2007, Mandisa released her debut single, Only the World, and a few months later, her debut album, True Beauty dropped. With its release, Mandisa made history as the first new female artist to debut at number one in the Top Christian Album charts. 

singer mandisa dead aged 47© Getty Images
Mandisa won a Grammy in 2014

True Beauty earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. In 2014, she won the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album Grammy for her 2013 release, Overcomer

In total, Mandisa released six albums, with her last being 2017's Out of The Dark.

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