Grammy award winner and American Idol star dies at age of 47

She hit the headlines on American Idol
She hit the headlines on American Idol -Credit:Getty

Grammy award-winning singer Mandisa has died at the age of 47. The former American Idol contestant died on Thursday at her home in Nashville, Tennessee. The cause of her death it not yet known.

The star was first noticed in 2006 when she appeared on the popular TV talent show under the name of Mandisa Lynn Hundley. She was the butt of jokes by judge Simon Cowell who commented on her weight saying: “Do we have a bigger stage this year?”

But rather than react as the TV crews expected the devout Christian answered him with kindness telling him while he had hurt her she had forgiven him. She told the stunned judge: “It was painful. It really was. But I want you to know that I have forgiven you.

"You don’t need someone to apologise in order to forgive somebody. I figured that if Jesus could die so that all of my sins could be forgiven, I could certainly extend that same grace to you.”

Mandisa went on to finish ninth in the show and followed it with a major career in Christian music, being nominated for five Grammy Awards and winning one for the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Overcomer.

Mandisa with Simon Cowell on American Idol
Mandisa with Simon Cowell on American Idol -Credit:Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Mandisa's death was announced by Christian music station K Love. David Pierce, K Love spokesman, said: "Mandisa loved Jesus, and she used her unusually extensive platform to talk about Him at every turn. Her kindness was epic, her smile electric, her voice massive, but it was no match for the size of her heart.

"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."

Devastated fans reacted to the news with many saying her song Overcomer had been a key part of their lives. Olumide posted on X, formerly Twitter : "This is sad! Her song Overcomer was a staple for me. Praying for strength for her family and all of us who were blessed by her music."

Another wrote: "She is the reason I listen to Christian music. Her song Overcomer saved my life... God help us all, rest well sweet Mandisa." Rick added: "Wow... First saw her on American idol When Simon kinda made fun of her... She blew Simon and us away with her magnificent voice and the love of her Lord. She was a fearless, unashamed warrior for the Kingdom, and you could hear that in every one of her songs!"

Regina said: "I know a lot of people will remember her for her music. But my favourite will always be when she forgave Simon Cowell during American Idol. That was beautiful and a true testament of her faith and love for everyone."