Revisiting Mandisa's American Idol journey as Idol honors the late season 5 alum

The former contestant passed away on April 18, 2024 at the age of 47. As the show pays tribute to the talented singer, we are too.
American Idol Season 5 - Launch Party
American Idol Season 5 - Launch Party / Mark Sullivan/GettyImages

Tonight's American Idol features the Top 8 singing for America's votes in the hopes of making it into the Top 7 of American Idol 2024. But the episode is also spending some very important time paying tribute to an alum and former contestant on the show - Mandisa. The singer auditioned back in season 5 when she was 29 years old. Unfortunately on April 18, 2024, Mandisa passed away at the age of 47. A cause of death is still under investigation, and authorities do not suspect foul play.

This is the third Idol death in 2024, with vocal coach Debra Byrd and music contractor Ernie Fields Jr. having passed away this year. Mandisa had a strong, powerful voice that's still remembered in the American Idol family. With the competition series paying tribute this evening, starting at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, we are too. Here's a look back at Mandisa's journey on Idol.

Elliott Yamin, Bucky Covington, Ace Young, Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Alabama, Chris Daughtry, Mandisa Hundley, Mandisa, Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Lisa Tucker, Paris Bennett
"American Idol" Season 5 - Top 10 Contestants / Ray Mickshaw/GettyImages

Mandisa on American Idol

The artist was born and raised in Sacramento, California but had been living in Antioch, Tennessee for a decade at that point. The American Idol journey began for the singer, when she had to prove herself to judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell on American Idol season 5 (2006) at the Chicago auditions. She walked in with confidence, stating she's known as just "Mandisa." I love it! She chose the song "Fallin" by Alicia Keys and got three yes's from the panel. And she definitely deserved it! You could tell how talented she was from the very start.

The former contestant made it pretty far in the competition, going as far as making it into the Top 9 before being sent home. During the Top 24, she took classic rock song "Never" by Heart and made it her own, as she stated she likes to do. It paid off, as I think it was a nice spin to the tune and it helped highlight Mandisa's strong vocal range. Her mix of sweet and confident nature really made this singer stand out and memorable to this day.

During the Top 16 round, Mandisa chose the tune "I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan, and I think that's personally my favorite performance from the singer. She had such a wonderful stage presence and you could tell how much she enjoyed being on stage. That was especially clear in this performance. And the judges definitely agreed, Simon going as far as to say that "this [performance] is the only one I would rewind on my TV and watch it again." Another highlight was being mentored by Stevie Wonder, and singing his song "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing" in the the Top 12 round.

Elliott Yamin, Mandisa, Paris Bennett
"American Idol" Season 5 - Results Show - April 5, 2006 / Ray Mickshaw/GettyImages

Overall during her time on the competition, Randy and Simon were critical, not always agreeing with her song choices, while Paula usually had more positive remarks. But still all the judges were impressed by Mandisa's soul and powerful voice. The one song all three judges agreed on, and I think was also definitely a standout , was "I Don't Hurt Anymore" by Hank Snow during the Top 11 performances. It was Simon's favorite, and I would agree it was definitely a great song choice.

Up until that point she'd been rocking it, but unfortunately as the judges also pointed out, I think her song choice during her last Idol performance wasn't the best. Unfortunately, it seemed like America also agreed as the singer didn't get enough votes to remain in the competition. Mandisa took on "Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain, which put her in the Bottom 3 for the first time with Elliott Yamin and Paris Bennett. Unfortunately, the votes weren't enough for her and Mandisa was the one who was sent home after making it into the Top 9. Below we shared all the songs the former Idol contestant performed in each round:




"Fallin" by Alicia Keys


"Band of Gold" by Freda Payne

Top 24

"Never" by Heart

Top 20

"Cry" by Faith Hill

Top 16

"I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan

Top 12

"Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing" by Stevie Wonder

Top 11

"I Don't Hurt Anymore" by Hank Snow

Top 10

"Shackles (Praise You)" by Mary Mary

Top 9

"Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain

49th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Arrivals / Jason Kempin/GettyImages

After Idol

Ultimately, it was Taylor Hicks who won American Idol season 5 but that doesn't mean Mandisa didn't find success in music after her time on the show. This happens a lot with contestants who don't win the competition, and it's great because there's sometimes really talented people who deserved to make it all the way. Like Mandisa! The artist focused on the contemporary Christian music, gospel, and R&B genres.

Throughout her music career, Mandisa released a total of six studio albums and over 15 singles. Her first single "Only the World" came out in May 2007 and was a success. A couple of months later, the artist released her first record, True Beauty, in July. The album made it to the No. 1 spot on the Top Christian Albums charts. This was the first time a female singer had been able to do so in the chart's 27 years.

Another hit for the artist was her fourth album "Overcomer." It won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at the 56th Grammy Awards in 2014. She's been nominated a total of five times, but only won once. The final record was released in 2017, Out of the Dark. Here's a list of all of Mandisa's albums:

  • True Beauty (2007)
  • It's Christmas (2008)
  • Freedom (2009)
  • What If We Were Real (2011)
  • Overcomer (2013)
  • Out of the Dark (2017)

On behalf of the Hidden Remote community, our thoughts are with Mandisa's friends and family.

Next. A full list of American Idol winners: Where are they now?. A full list of American Idol winners: Where are they now?. dark