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

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The Christian gospel songstress was a standout on Season 5 of the singing competition series

Mandisa, the Grammy Award-winning singer who got her break as a contestant on season 5 of American Idol, died on Thursday, April 18 at the age of 47.

“We can confirm that yesterday Mandisa was found in her home deceased," a rep for the singer tells PEOPLE in a statement. "At this time we do not know the cause of death or any further details. We ask for your prayers for her family and close knit circle of friends during this incredibly difficult time."

Born and raised in Citrus Heights, California, Mandisa studied music in college before auditioning for Idol in 2005.

A soulful singer with a magnetic personality, she'd go on to gain national attention on the reality competition show's fifth season (which began airing in 2006), making it to the top 10 alongside favorites like Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Chris Daughtry, Paris Bennett, Elliott Yamin and eventual winner Taylor Hicks.

<p>Annette Holloway/Icon Sportswire via Getty </p> Mandisa in Nashville in October 2018

Annette Holloway/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Mandisa in Nashville in October 2018

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

On the series, Mandisa earned praise from judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson for her performances of songs like Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" and Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing." She was eliminated in the top 9, and even forgave Cowell after he poked fun at her weight.

But an Idol elimination didn't stop Mandisa's quest for success.

She went on release her debut album, True Beauty, in 2007. The LP debuted at No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums charts — a historic feat that made Mandisa the first new female artist ever to debut on the top of the chart's 27-year history.

True Beauty was the first six albums Mandisa would release throughout her career, including an acclaimed 2008 holiday record, It's Christmas, and her most recent offering, 2017's Out of the Dark.

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<p>Jason Merritt/FilmMagic</p> Mandisa and Ryan Seacrest on 'American Idol' in 2006

Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

Mandisa and Ryan Seacrest on 'American Idol' in 2006

Four of those albums — True Beauty, Freedom (2009), What If We Were Real (2011) and Overcomer (2013) — all earned Mandisa Grammy nominations, the first two for best pop/contemporary gospel album and the last two for best contemporary Christian music album. She'd take the trophy in 2014, the same year she was also nominated for best gospel/contemporary Christian music performance for her song, "Overcomer."

Notable collaborators over the years included TobyMac, Michael W. Smith, Jordan Feliz, Jon Reddick, Kirk Franklin and Matthew West — many who praised the singer for her talent and generosity, both on stage and off.

<p>Terry Wyatt/Getty </p> Mandisa in May 2018

Terry Wyatt/Getty

Mandisa in May 2018

Fame, however, brought Mandisa ups and downs.

Her 2022 memoir Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God's Joy, chronicled her experience with depression and anxiety following the loss of a close friend to cancer, which she called her "deep dark" period. Seeking comfort in food, she isolated herself as her health spiraled.

“When she passed away, it shook the foundations underneath me. I sank into a deep pit of depression. I turned back to my old ways, which is food," Mandisa told PEOPLE in 2017, noting she gained back the 120 lbs. she had previously lost, plus 75 lbs. more.

During that period, Mandisa became a recluse. “You’re battling shame, and you don’t want to leave the house,” she recalled. “I didn’t leave the house, for the most part. When I got up, I went downstairs, sat in the recliner, and I watched television nonstop. The only time I left was when I got tired of pizza delivery and decided to get McDonald’s.”

As her lowest point, she even considered suicide. “I was so miserable; I felt so hopeless,” said Mandisa. “I am a woman of faith, and I believe that heaven is real, and when I do leave here, I’m going to be in heaven with Jesus. One of the things I started hearing during that dark period was: ‘You’re in so much pain. If you take your life, you could be in heaven right now with Jesus.'”

<p>John Shearer/WireImage</p> Mandisa in January 2010

John Shearer/WireImage

Mandisa in January 2010

Related: 'American Idol' 's Mandisa Recalls Having Friends Stage an Intervention After Her 'Deep Dark' Period

An intervention staged by her friends helped wake her up to the realities of her mental health situation and helped put her on a track where she could begin to cope with the emotions she'd internalized.

"The darkness felt a little less dark," she wrote in her book. "I could see a small flicker. Light was beginning to break through."

The Platinum-selling singer went on to praise the meaningful connections she has among her diverse friendship circle.

"During my life I've been drawn into friendships with all types of people — some very different from me," said Mandisa. "My tribe has included men, women, single people, married people with kids, millennials, more 'seasoned' folks, and every age in between. ... You learn so much and become a richer person by surrounding yourself with people who are different from you. As I've walked through hard things in my life, I've sometimes been surprised by the people God has used to comfort and help me. At times I get to be there for them too. That's what it's all about."

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