New Details on How Mandisa Died Emerge Ahead of ‘American Idol’ Tribute


Heavy/Getty New details have emerged about Mandisa's April 2024 death

Though officials have not released an official cause of death for gospel singer Mandisa Hundley, known worldwide simply as Mandisa, new details have emerged as “American Idol” prepares its tribute to the season 5 finalist, scheduled to be part of its live show on April 29, 2024.

Mandisa was found dead at her Nashville home on April 18, 2024, at the age of 47. Authorities have since ruled out foul play, but given the singer’s history of depression and anxiety, many assumed her mental health played a role in her death.

However, during a celebration of life ceremony held on April 27, live-streamed by Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee, Mandisa’s father poked holes in that theory, revealing that based on his conversations with a detective involved in the case, she did not die from “self-harm.”

Mandisa’s Father Says ‘She Did Not Harm Herself’ & Offers Alternate Explanation

Many family members and friends shared memories of Mandisa during the ceremony, which lasted nearly three hours and also featured music from the Glorious Funk Band, the Jubilee Singers from her alma mater, Fisk University, and contemporary Christian star Natalie Grant, per the event’s official program.

Mandisa’s dad, John D. Hundley, spoke at the podium, hoping to clear up any confusion about his daughter’s death. On April 23, local police said that there was no evidence of foul play in her death, according to the Courier Journal, but questions have lingered about whether her struggles with depression, which she wrote and sang about, played a part.

“I’m not a detective, but I have spoken to the detective twice,” Hundley told the audience at her service. “I’ve been in Mandisa’s home every day since last Saturday. I spent the night there and my wife didn’t like it, but I stayed there. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff.”

Hundley said the detective he’s been in contact with estimated that a formal report won’t be released for three weeks and that nothing can be shared officially until then. But Hundley told the detective he planned to share publicly what they’d already discussed, and said that the authority “did not disagree with me.”

“I’ve heard different reports on the TV,” Hundley said, alluding to speculation about his daughter’s death. “Mandisa fell down in her bedroom. They found her on the floor.”

Hundley explained that Mandisa was found on the left side of her bed, where there were “a couple of big rugs and some clothes” and that he found her phone sitting on the nightstand on the right side of her bed.

“There was no way for Mandisa to get around the bed and go up there and get a phone to call for help,” Hundley said. “She did not harm herself.”

“So there is one thing that you may not have known,” Hundley continued. “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.”

Mandisa Will Be Honored by 3 ‘American Idol’ Alums in Live Tribute

As fans and family await authorities’ official report on Mandisa’s cause of death, “American Idol” producers have planned a live tribute to the singer, who rose to the top 9 on season 5 and was beloved by many of her fellow finalists that season, including winner Taylor Hicks, runner-up Katharine McPhee, and finalists Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Paris Bennett and Elliott Yamin.

Three other “Idol” alums who had become close friends with Mandisa will pay tribute to her during the show, according to Billboard. Season 6 alum Melinda Doolittle, Danny Gokey from season 8 and Colton Dixon from season 11 will honor Mandisa with the song “Shackles (Praise You),” which was a top 10 hit in 2000 by contemporary Christian duo Mary Mary.

While waiting for her flight to Los Angeles to perform on the show, Doolittle told Billboard, “I met Mandisa in the studio. We were both singing background for a project produced by our good friend Chance Scoggins. Mandisa was singing soprano, of course, and I was definitely singing alto, and we hit it off. She told me she was going to compete on ‘American Idol’ and I said, ‘That couldn’t be me. You have a great time.'”

She continued, “I remember watching Simon Cowell say some words to her that weren’t kind, but she was so resilient. She was willing to forgive him while I was thinking: ‘What kind of human being is he?’”

Nevertheless, Doolittle decided to audition the next year and Mandisa helped her through it, she said.

“She was the biggest cheerleader anyone could ever have,” she said. “After my performances, she would message or call me and tell me everything that was good.”

Doolitte said she’s excited and nervous to return to the “Idol” stage, but honored they asked her to help honor her friend. Dixon told Billboard he feels the same way.

“Anytime ‘American Idol’ reaches out, it’s an honor for me to be a part of that stage,” he told the outlet. “I wish it was under different circumstances. But as both a fan of the show and a friend and colleague of Mandisa, when I get there today, I’m going to say, ‘Thank you for paying tribute to her,’ because she was a big voice on the show and a big voice in our industry off the show. It means a lot to those close to her that they would recognize that. So I’m humbled and honored to be a part of that tribute.”

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