Last week our spotlight shone on life’s imperfections, as well as our featured artist Jason Gray who reminds us that no matter life’s circumstances, God can find ways to bless us and use us.

This week’s spotlight is similar, for our spotlight artist Mandisa has had a world of painful experiences yet God has blessed her in so many ways through it, and she in turn has blessed others by her positive and encouraging songs.

The 42 year old  attended American River College in Sacramento after graduating from high school, and studied Vocal Jazz. Then she continued with studies university in Tennessee and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in vocal performance.

Her career began as a contestant in the fifth season of American Idol, in which she finished in ninth place. She may have placed 9th, but she has gone on to win a Grammy Award for her album Overcomer in the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album category.

During the first few episodes of Idol, Simon Cowell created a bit of a stir when he made fun of Mandisa’s weight after her audition.  He first quipped, “Do we have a bigger stage this year?” Then, when Paula Abdul commented that Mandisa had a “Frenchie” growl to her voice, Cowell responded that a more apt comparison would be to France itself. 

However, it was Mandisa’s response after hearing what he said in front of friends and family while watching the show that proved worth as she showed so much class and grace. When she appeared before the judges prior to the final cut-down to the season’s 24 semi-finalists, she told Simon,  “What I want to say to you is that, yes, you hurt me and I cried and it was painful, it really was. 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. Cowell told Mandisa that he was “humbled” and apologized to her immediately.

After being eliminated from American Idol—Mandisa performed the song “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” on the TV talk show, Live with Regis and Kelly in July, 2007. She also joined Gladys Knight and others at the Apollo Theater for the benefit concert “Back to Harlem,” to raise money for various charities.

Mandisa’s first full-length album True Beauty was released on July 31, 2007, debuting at No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums charts, making it the first time a new female artist has debuted at No. 1. It also debuted at No. 43 on the Billboard 200, a major accomplishment on that chart for a Christian artist.

Mandisa collaborated with tobyMac and Kirk Franklin on tobyMac’s album, Portable Sounds.

And again worked with tobymac when she featured him on her hit single, Good Morning,

She has also been featured with David Crowder, and has collaborated with Matthew West numerous times, and Jeremy Camp among others.

So, Mandisa has had success in spite of her low placing on American Idol, and it’d be easy to think… perfection.  But wait, this is another spotlight on imperfections remember?

As mentioned earlier, weight has been an issue with the singer throughout her career, but it stems from childhood sexual abuse and being raped when she was 16. But it’s through her story that we see how she came to know her Savior and find her way into His love and grace that she is able to display the same towards others.

These are a couple of great interviews, and I hope folks will have a chance to watch them and be encouraged by her faith and openness…

I hope folks go find some other songs from Mandisa or collaborated songs with others to share here. I also hope y’all have a blessed and beautiful Sunday!

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