‘American Idol’ Finalist Mandisa Dead at 47


Heavy/Getty Season 5 "American Idol" finalist Mandisa has died at 47. Inset: U.S. President George W. Bush poses with the top nine 2006 American Idol finalists Ace Young, Kellie Pickler, Taylor Hicks, Paris Bennett, U.S. Bush, Lisa Tucker, Katharine McPhee, Bucky Covington, Mandisa and Chris Daughtry in the Oval Office July 28, 2006.

Season 5 “American Idol” finalist and Grammy winner Mandisa has died at age 47, according to Christian broadcaster K-LOVE, which was the first outlet to report that the powerhouse Gospel singer was found dead at her Nashville home on April 18, 2024.

A post on Mandisa’s official Facebook page confirmed the sad news on April 19.

“We can confirm that yesterday Mandisa was found in her home deceased,” the statement said. “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 spoke openly about her battles with depression in recent years. No cause of death had been determined at the time of publication.

Here’s what you need to know:

Mandisa Was an ‘American Idol’ Finalist Who Went On to Become a Grammy Winner

A native of Citrus Heights, California, Mandisa auditioned for “American Idol” in 2005, per People, and rose to the Top 9 on season 5, which aired on FOX in 2006. The season produced a bevy of stars, including winner Taylor Hicks, runner-up Katharine McPhee, and finalists Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Paris Bennett and Elliott Yamin.

After Mandisa’s elimination from the show, her debut album — “True Beauty” — debuted on top of the Christian album charts, according to People, making her the “first new female artist ever to debut on the top of the chart’s 27-year history.”

In 2013, Mandisa’s album  “Overcomer” earned her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, according to Deadline, which reported that she released five albums during her career.

The statement posted on Mandisa’s Facebook page by her team said, “Mandisa was a voice of encouragement and truth to people facing life’s challenges all around the world.”

On Facebook, her team also posted a video and lyrics from her song “You Wouldn’t Cry (Andrew’s Song),” which she wrote for a friend who died. Writing that “her words say it best,” they shared the following lyrics: I’m already home, You’ve got to lay it down, ’cause Jesus holds me now— And I am not alone”

Mandisa Fell Into a ‘Pit of Depression’ After Friend’s Death  & Released an Album About Her Journey

After losing her best friend and backup singer Kisha Mitchell, who battled breast cancer and died while pregnant in 2014, Mandisa slipped into a “deep pit of depression,” she told People in 2017.

“When she passed away, it shook the foundations underneath me,” Mandisa said.

Though she’d lost much of the weight “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell had famously teased her about on the show, her depression led her to gain 195 pounds, per People.

On her website, Mandisa shared, “I was disappointed with God. I was mad because as I prayed for her, I believed that God was going to heal her. I’m not the kind of person who shakes my fist at the Lord and yells and screams. I just shut down and started turning to food again for comfort.”

Her weight gain only deepened her depression, she told People in 2017.

“You’re battling shame, and you don’t want to leave the house,” she said. “I didn’t leave the house, for the most part. When I got up, I went downstairs, sat in the recliner, and I watched television nonstop. The only time I left was when I got tired of pizza delivery and decided to get McDonald’s.”

After dear friends staged an “intervention,” Mandisa began seeing a counselor and getting her life back on track, she told People. In 2017, she released her album “Out of the Dark,” featuring guest appearances from contemporary Christian artists like TobyMac and Kirk Franklin, and featuring songs “filled with songs of hope, resilience, & reminders that God is still working, no matter the circumstance,” per her website.

When announcing Mandisa’s death, K-LOVE chief media officer David Pierce said in a statement, “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. 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.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available via the SAMHSA’s Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org