Who Was Mandisa? 5 Things to Know About the ‘American Idol’ Alum Who Died at 47

Mandisa's death was unexpected, her family reportedly revealed. Here is everything we know about the former 'American Idol' contestant.

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Mandisa — a former American Idol season 5 contestant and award-winning artist — has died at the age of 47 years old. The late singer-songwriter’s music career had taken off thanks to the reality competition series, and she had released multiple albums before her untimely death. On Friday, April 19, 2024, Mandisa’s family and reps revealed that she was dead.

“We can confirm that yesterday Mandisa was found in her home deceased,” a spokesperson for the late musician told PEOPLE in a statement. “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 singing on stage
Getty Images

TMZ also reported that Mandisa’s father informed the outlet that her death was “unexpected” and a “shock” to their family.

Learn more about Mandisa below.

Mandisa Was Eliminated on ‘American Idol’

The California native gained recognition in the fifth season of American Idol. Upon receiving praise from former judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, Mandisa was expected to win. Despite being eliminated in the top 9, viewers recalled her epic performances of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.”

She Forgave Simon Cowell for His Weight Joke

After being eliminated, Mandisa turned to Simon to address the comment he made about her weight at the time — “Do we have a bigger stage this year?” The former American Idol judge apologized to Mandisa.

“What I want to say to you is that, yes, you hurt me, and I cried and it was painful, it really was,” she told Simon. “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. 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.”

Mandisa Released 6 Albums

One year after competing on the show, Mandisa released her debut album, True Beauty, in 2007. She later released her subsequent albums: It’s Christmas, Freedom, What If We Were Real, Overcomer and Out of the Dark.

She Is a Grammy Award Winner

Mandisa went on to earn several Grammy nominations over the years, winning her first in 2014 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for her album Overcomer.

She Also Published a Memoir

In 2022, Mandisa released her memoir, Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God’s Joy. The book explores the “Unfinished” artist’s battle with depression and anxiety. While recalling her most difficult time to PEOPLE, Mandisa revealed that she experienced suicidal thoughts.

“I was so miserable; I felt so hopeless,” Mandisa told the outlet at the time. “I am a woman of faith, and I believe that heaven is real, and when I do leave here, I’m going to be in heaven with Jesus. One of the things I started hearing during that dark period was: ‘You’re in so much pain. If you take your life, you could be in heaven right now with Jesus.’”

Her loved ones intervened and helped the “Lose My Soul” singer, the outlet reported.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).