Mandisa Hundley, ‘American Idol’ Singer, Dies at 47


Gospel singer Mandisa Hundley, whose powerful vocals on “American Idol” won her a Grammy Award for best contemporary Christian music album, was found dead in her Nashville home Thursday. She is 47 years old.

The media group representing Ms Hendry confirmed her death and said in a statement that the cause of death was unknown.

Ms. Hendry, who performs and produces Christian-themed music, was a fan favorite on “American Idol” in 2006 but became the fourth of 12 finalists to be eliminated.

She talks openly about her love for God, and her music resonates with fans.

Ms. Hendry is famous for standing up to “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, who is known for his intimidation. In a video interview for the show, she mentioned the audition in Chicago, when Mr. Cowell said in apparent joking after she left the room, “Do we have a bigger stage this year?”

Mr. Hendry said in the film that despite the comments, she would travel to Hollywood and face Mr. Cowell in the final judging.

“When I got to Hollywood, I knew I had to put on a game face,” she said. “I knew I could finally say my side.”

“You hurt me and I cried,” she later told Mr Cowell. “But I want you to know that I have forgiven you.” Mr Cowell replied that he was “humbled” and the two embraced.

In 2006, Ms. Hundley told The Oklahoman that her faith helped her overcome Mr. Cowell’s hurtful comments.

“Food has always been an issue for me,” she said. “When Simon first made the comment, it was a nightmare. But God turned it around. Those words became the motivation I needed to start a plan to live a healthier lifestyle and get my diet in check.

She went on to record several albums, starting with True Beauty, released in 2007. Her 2013 Grammy-winning album “Overcomer” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Christian Albums chart. This is her first Grammy Award after being nominated three times.

Mandisa Lynn Hundley was born in Sacramento on October 2, 1976, to John Hundley and Ruby Berryman. Her mother works for the state. She sang in church and studied vocal performance at American River College, a community college in Sacramento, and continued her studies at Fisk University in Nashville.

After college, she became a backup singer for Trisha Yearwood and Shania Twain.

She is survived by her parents and brother John Hendry.

On her 2017 album Out of the Dark, she opened up about her battle with depression, which she also wrote about in her 2022 memoir of the same name.

“My dream is that this book will become a tool used in living rooms and coffee shops around the world to help promote conversations about our mental health,” she told “Good Morning America.”

Emmett Lindner Contributed reporting.


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