“American Idol ”Winner Taylor Hicks Leads Tributes Mandisa After Her Death: 'A Powerhouse Person' (Exclusive)

The Christian gospel singer-songwriter and contestant on 'American Idol' season 5 died at age 47 on Thursday, April 18

Mandisa is being honored by her friends, former American Idol costars and beyond in the wake of her death.

The Grammy-winning Christian gospel music singer and contestant on season 5 of American Idol died on Thursday, April 18 at the age of 47. A rep for the musician confirmed to PEOPLE that she was found in her home deceased.

"We ask for your prayers for her family and close knit circle of friends during this incredibly difficult time," the rep for Mandisa said in a statement.

As the news broke, many stars paid their respects with thoughtful social media tributes and in statements to PEOPLE.

Related: Mandisa, American Idol Star and Grammy-Winning Singer, Dead at 47: 'We Ask for Your Prayers' 

<p>Ray Mickshaw/WireImage</p> Mandisa performing on 'American Idol' season 5

Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Mandisa performing on 'American Idol' season 5

Taylor Hicks, the season 5 winner of Idol, shared an exclusive statement with PEOPLE about how much talent his former costar had and what special person she was both on and off stage.

The blues singer, 47, said, "Mandisa was a power house vocalist on our season of Idol and she graduated to a wonderful career in Gospel music."

He added, "Better yet, she was a power house person and all of us will miss her dearly."

<p>Paris Bennett/Instagram</p> Paris Bennett's tribute to Mandisa on her Instagram Stories

Paris Bennett/Instagram

Paris Bennett's tribute to Mandisa on her Instagram Stories

Paris Bennett reflected on how "grateful" she is to have crossed paths with Mandisa, as the two both made it into the Top 10 on Idol season 5.

The R&B artist, 35, reposted a photo of the late star on her Instagram Stories and wrote, "Getting the news sadden my heart in a deep way ... to think God now has one of the sweetest people on earth back w/him."

"Disa I am forever grateful to @americanidol for blessing us to cross one another's paths," she shared. "Love Disa girl and I'm sure going to miss that smile and best hugs ever. Rest in Paradise 🕊️."

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<p>Rick Diamond/Getty Images</p> Danny Gokey, Mandisa, Ruben Studdard and Phil Stacey performing at the 43rd annual GMA Dove Awards at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta in April 2012

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Danny Gokey, Mandisa, Ruben Studdard and Phil Stacey performing at the 43rd annual GMA Dove Awards at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta in April 2012

Fellow Idol costar Elliott Yamin shared a moving memoriam, as well.

On Instagram, he posted a recent smiling shot of the vocalist, as well as an old caricature drawing of the Top 10 finalists from their season on the reality show together.

Yamin, 45, wrote in the caption, "Sweet Mandisa! I don’t even know where to start because this one hits too close to home. I’m so deeply saddened to wake up to this news of your passing this morning!"

"Mandisa was a constant beacon of light and hope and positivity with/for EVERY single human she encountered," the "Wait for You" singer said. "She was steadfast in living out her purpose through her faith and religion and touched so many people along the way."

He also reflected on the last time the two connected. "Mandisa reached out to me after the birth of my daughter, blessing her and my family, and that was the last time we connected. About 4 years ago," Yamin shared. "My thoughts and well wishes are with her family at this time. Mandisa, I will never forget you and your light. It was an honor to walk through the @americanidol experience with you! RIP! @mandisaofficial 😥"

<p>Courtesy: Everett Collection</p> Mandisa performing on 'American Idol'

Courtesy: Everett Collection

Mandisa performing on 'American Idol'

Related: Remembering Former American Idol Contestants Who Have Died

The official American Idol Instagram also honored the former contestant by sharing an image from her audition for the show in 2005.

In the shot, the then-29 year old appeared to have a smile on her face as she sang before the judging panel.

The competition series expressed its "deepest condolences" to Mandisa's family in the caption.

"Mandisa was an adored icon on American Idol and in the music industry," the statement read. "She had become a platinum-selling artist and had won several Grammys for her music. Her passing has left everyone on the show heartbroken, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family."

Danny Gokey, an Idol alum from season 8, opened up about his connection to the late singer-songwriter based on their love for the faith genre and memories as tour mates in a post on Instagram.

"Devastated to hear about the sudden loss of Mandisa," Gokey, 43, wrote in the caption of a carousel featuring four photos of himself with Mandisa, include three shots of them performing on stage together and one of them posing back stage and smiling as they stood back-to-back to show off their matching jackets.

"Not only did we connect over being American Idol alumni—we had a great time on the road doing several tours together," the Christian singer continued. "Her joy was infectious & I loved her heart to encourage people on & off stage!"

He reflected, "When I made my debut in Christian music she was my greatest supporter. It wasn’t easy coming off my first failed record deal after the show but she was the one who welcomed me first and loudest and rallied everyone to support me."

"Mandisa you left too soon—our community will never be the same without you," Gokey's sweet tribute concluded.

<p>Paras Griffin/Getty Images </p> Mandisa in Atlanta on August 2019

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Mandisa in Atlanta on August 2019

Related: American Idol Winners: Who Won Each Season and Where Are They Now?

Another one of Mandisa's longtime collaborators, Christian artist Matthew West, opened up on X (formerly Twitter) about how he "will always cherish the memories" they shared.

West, 46, was among the singer's earliest friends and collaborators in the gospel music industry, as he cowrote a number of songs on her 2007 debut album True Beauty, was featured on the song "Christmas Makes Me Cry" off her 2008 holiday album and also contributed to songs on her records Freedom and Overcomer.

"I am so incredibly saddened to hear about the loss of my friend Mandisa," wrote the singer-songwriter, who also cohosted award shows, like the Christian fan-voted award show K-LOVE Fan Awards, with Mandisa.

"I will always cherish the memories of times we spent together hosting award shows, going on tour, and most of all helping her tell her story in the songwriting room," he continued.

West also shared in his post that the first song the Idol alum released following her appearance on the competition reality series was one they wrote together, "Only the World."

He then concluded by including the song's lyrics, which describes"Heaven" as being "where the tears on every face will be wiped away," and added that the verses "hit different right now."

Christian artist and friend Don Moen shared a statement following her death, writing, "The news of Mandisa's passing this morning was truly a shock. Not only was she a powerhouse of a talent but she also possessed a genuinely kind spirit. We ministered together several times, she sang background vocals on my album 'Thank You Lord' and joined me on several tours."

He continued, "On one particular tour, notes kept appearing in everyone's bunk on the bus or in their instrument cases. These were encouraging messages like: 'You are blessed and highly favored,' or 'You're such a blessing on this tour.' Only at the end of the tour did we discover it had been Mandisa. Whether behind the scenes or center stage, her presence always brought joy and hope."

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown was a longtime close friend of Mandisa's, to whom she posted tributes on social media over the years and stepped out to support at events, like The Stellar Gospel Music Awards.

On X, she reshared a link to PEOPLE's obituary of the "Overcomer" singer and wrote, "I am heartbroken. She was my dear friend. I love you ⁦@mandisaofficial 💔🕊️."

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