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‘American Idol’ Sensation and Grammy Winner Discovered Deceased in Tennessee Residence

mandisa on american idol
Credit: @mandisaofficial X / ABC

A former American Idol star and Grammy Award winner has been found dead in her Tennessee home. She was 47 years old.

Close-up black and white portrait of a woman with long hair, smiling subtly against a blurred light background.

Credit: Sparrow Records

The Untimely Passing of a Former American Idol

Former American Idol star Mandisa was found dead in her home in Franklin, Tennessee, on Thursday, April 18. Her death was initially confirmed by TMZ after the outlet received a statement from the father of the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter on Friday morning.

According to her father, the late Gospel singer, whose full name is Mandisa Hundley, was found deceased, but the cause of her death is not known at this time, and there has been no mention of the loved one who survived her.

A joyful woman with braided hair wearing a black and white polka dot dress poses against a deep blue backdrop with a logo.

Credit: Disney/ABC/Good Morning America

A Life Remembered With Love

“Mandisa loved Jesus, and she used her unusually extensive platform to talk about Him at every turn,” said David Pierce, Chief Media Officer of Christian radio station K-LOVE, in a statement released on Friday. “Her kindness was epic, her smile electric, her voice massive, but it was no match for the size of her heart.”

“Mandisa struggled,” Pierce continued, “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.”

A Life-Long Love of Music

Born on October 2, 1976, Mandisa Lynn Hundley was raised in Citrus Heights, California. After graduating high school, she attended American River College in Sacramento, California, where she studied Vocal Jazz. From there, she transferred to Fisk University in Tennessee, ultimately graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree.

Mandisa embraced her faith as a gospel and contemporary Christian recording artist. She first stepped into the spotlight in Chicago in 2005 when she auditioned for the fifth season of American Idol. She finished the season in 2006 among the Top 10 performers. Following her elimination from the show, Mandisa released her debut album, True Beauty, in 2007.

A woman and a man stand on a stage, singing and smiling together. the woman is wearing a sparkling black outfit, and the man is in a blue suit. a band plays in the background.

Mandisa with “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest/Credit: ABC

The album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart and earned Mandisa a Grammy nomination–the first of five the singer and songwriter would eventually receive.

Mandisa was among several American Idol alumna who have gone on to win a Grammy Award. Mandisa won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for her 2013 album, titled Overcomer, which was popular among audiences and critics.

Over the course of her almost 20-year recording career, Mandisa released five albums and a Christmas compilation. She also collaborated with Dove Award- and Grammy Award-winning Christian recording artist TobyMac, as well as singer, songwriter, and choirmaster Kirk Franklin.

Two side-by-side portraits of men. the man on the left wears glasses and a brown jacket, with intense blue background lighting. the man on the right, in a patterned shirt, has a neutral expression against a gray background.

TobyMac (L) and Kirk Franklin (R)/Credit: TobyMac.com/X/KirkFranklin

In addition to her music and her performances on American Idol, Mandisa is remembered for extending kindness and forgiveness to judge Simon Cowell after he made hurtful comments about the singer’s weight during the fifth season of the hit prime-time singing competition show.

“What I want to say to you is that, yes, you hurt me, and I cried, and it was painful–it really was,” Mandisa said to Cowell shortly before she was named an American Idol semi-finalist. “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.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic. 

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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