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Autopsy Results Released in the Death of Beloved Singer & Songwriter

Silhouette of a person singing into a microphone against a background of ethereal light rays. The image is double-exposed, showing close-up facial features with eyes closed, creating a serene and contemplative mood.
Credit: Disney Dining

The American Idol community lost a titan of a performer. The Contemporary Christian Music industry lost a gifted and soulful singer who delivered a powerful message of truth and hope. And a vast, close-knit circle of friends and family members lost a beloved and irreplaceable member. But these losses were not of three different people.

Rather, these losses describe one person–a Disney/ABC reality star-turned-recording artist superstar who wore her message of hope like a banner and whose light has gone out far too soon.

Silhouette of a person singing into a microphone against a background of ethereal light rays. The image is double-exposed, showing close-up facial features with eyes closed, creating a serene and contemplative mood.

Credit: Disney Dining

Now, an autopsy report has finally named the culprit responsible for her sudden passing.

The Sudden, Untimely Loss of an “Overcomer”

On Friday, April 19, American Idol and Contemporary Christian Music fans began to see posts online about the sudden, untimely death of Idol alum Mandisa Lynn Hundley, known professionally as simply Mandisa.

mandisa hundley

Credit: YouTube/Vevo

The 47-year-old former American Idol star and Grammy Award-winning Christian singer and recording artist was found dead in her Franklin, Tennessee, home a day earlier, according to a statement from her father, John, made to the TMZ media outlet.

At the time her death was announced, no further details were given. Friends, fans, and family members knew only that the singer and songwriter passed away in her home and that an autopsy was being performed per Williamson County, Tennessee statutes.

“We can confirm that yesterday Mandisa was found in her home deceased,” a representative for Mandisa confirmed in a statement to Entertainment Weekly on April 19. “At this time, we do not know the cause of death or any further details. We ask for your prayers for her family and close-knit circle of friends during this incredibly difficult time.”

mandisa hundley

Credit: Sparrow Records

Family Members Struggle to Understand What Happened

Mandisa’s father, John Hundley, delivered his daughter’s eulogy during a celebration of life service in her honor on Saturday, April 27, at Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee.

During the service, Hundley took time to share the insight he had into the days and moments leading up to her passing.

“Here’s what I think happened,” Hundley began. “Mandisa fell down in her bedroom. They found her on the floor. If you look from the rear of her bed, she was laying on the left side. It’s clear that’s where she was laying, there was a couple of big rugs there and some clothes.”

mandisa's father speaks at her memorial service

Credit: Brentwood Baptist Church, Tennessee

According to the late singer’s father, once Mandisa fell, she was unable to call for help.

“On the right side of the bed, front, was this nightstand. I found her phone on the right side of the bed,” her father explained. “There was no way for Mandisa to get around the bed, go out there, and get a phone to call for help.”

Hundley also used the time as an opportunity to halt any speculation about his daughter’s death, as Mandisa had always been transparent with her fans about her struggles with mental health as they related to depression over the years.

So, when she died unexpectedly, and at such a young age with no immediate cause of death noted, some began to speculate about the possibility of her death having been associated with self-harm. Her father, however, said that such speculation had no merit.

mandisa hundley

Credit: Flickr/Jyle Dupuis

Hundley said that Mandisa had been ill shortly before her passing and that when she died, she was recovering from an illness.

“She did not harm herself,” Hundley insisted. “As she said, Mandisa loved the Lord, and the Lord loved Mandisa. So there’s one thing you may not have known. She told me some time ago that she had gotten COVID-19, and she had been weak trying to get over that.

But she was trying to press through. We talked so much on Easter morning, but I thought she was going to this conference, so I had not called her recently, but I’ve talked to her a lot.”

Autopsy Results Give Answers

Results from an autopsy performed following the discovery of the late singer in her home on April 18 were released late on Tuesday and indicate that Mandisa succumbed to complications of Class III obesity. Her manner of death is listed as natural.

Class III obesity is defined as a serious health condition that occurs when a person’s body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher. It can also be diagnosed if a person has a BMI of 35 or higher and has at least one serious obesity-related condition. Class III obesity also describes a body weight of more than 100 pounds over the recommended body weight for a person, based on gender, age, and height.

Complications that can arise from Class III obesity include sleep apnea, infertility, heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and reflux disease.

Mandisa’s Career and Lifelong Message of Hope and Truth

On April 29, American Idol hosted a tribute episode in honor of Mandisa. Fellow Christian recording artists Colton Dixon, Danny Gokey, and Melinda Doolittle—all of whom are also former American Idol contestants–sang “Shackles (Just Wanna Praise You),” by Mary Mary–the song Mandisa chose to sing as one of her final performances on the show.

american idol tribute to mandisa

Credit: Disney/ABC

Mandisa first appeared on American Idol during the fifth season of the series in 2006, performing her own take on “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys. She ultimately advanced to the Top 10 during the season. Though she garnered the accolades of fans on American Idol, her career soared following her elimination from the show.

Mandisa went on to enjoy a successful career as a Contemporary Christian Music recording artist and gospel singer. In 2014, she won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Overcomer.

Over the course of her 20-year career, Mandisa released six studio albums and received five Grammy nominations overall. She also published a memoir, Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God’s Joy, in 2022. Two of Mandisa’s most popular singles–“Stronger” (2011) and “Good Morning” (2012)–became Gold-certified, and her biggest hit, “Overcomer” (2013), went Platinum.

A performer on stage, dressed in a black outfit with red and white striped pants, energetically reaches out to the audience with both arms raised. Colorful lights illuminate the stage, and a keyboard player is visible in the background. The atmosphere appears lively and joyful.

Credit: Facebook/Mandisa

A Fitting Farewell

Last week, K-LOVE Radio Station debuted a memorial montage created by Christian recording artist TobyMac, with whom Mandisa performed and recorded often. The montage was shown during the K-LOVE Fan Awards show on the evening of May 31 and serves as a heartfelt farewell to Mandisa and Christian musician Gabe Patillo, both of whom passed away in April. You can see the video montage by clicking below.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mandisa’s friends, family members, and fans during this very difficult time. May the message in Mandisa’s music of hope, comfort, and peace be theirs in the coming days.

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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