Tony Cummings reports on the Grammy-winning gospel diva MANDISA's return
It's not insignificant that the biggest hit by gospel and Christian music diva Mandisa is the song "Overcomer". The California-born singer has, since her explosion onto the showbiz scene with her appearances on the fifth season of American Idol, had to overcome her personal demons very much in the public eye. In 2007 she released her Christian chart-topping album 'True Beauty'. Also in that year she wrote the book Idoleyes: My New Perspective On Faith, Fat And Fame and by 2009 was telling the media that her 'Freedom' album was inspired by her overcoming an addiction to food. In February 2011 it was announced she had reached the goal of 100 pound weight loss.
For a season things continued to go wonderfully for the singer. In 2014 she was awarded a RIAA Gold certification for her digital single which featured a rap from TobyMac, "Good Morning". But then Mandisa silently withdrew from the spotlight and was even hiding from family and friends. She had watched a dear friend lose her battle with breast cancer, leaving behind a husband and two young sons. Suddenly, the world didn't seem to make sense anymore. Reeling from the pain, she isolated herself from everyone, gained back the weight she had fought so hard to lose, and sank into a deep depression.
"To be honest, that's not how I thought things were going to happen," she said of her friend Kisha's passing. "I just shut down, isolated, and started turning to my old friend food for comfort. My loved ones were reaching out and I would ignore their phone calls and text messages. It got to the point where I had friends who, out of love and concern, came to my house banging on the door and I just put in some ear plugs and pretended I wasn't there. I was angry at the world."
Yet inside Mandisa was still the same woman who had encouraged a multitude of people from all walks of life with the triumphant hit anthem "Overcomer". "I still don't have all the answers, but I'm in a better place now," said Mandisa, who in 2017 released her critically acclaimed album 'Out Of The Dark'. Featuring guest contributions from Kirk Franklin, TobyMac, Britt Nicole and Jeremy Camp the album is in many ways a more realistic expression of the faith journey than that expressed in some of her early recordings and her book. One of the turning points in her battle with depression came when a circle of friends sought her out at a movie theater. When Mandisa walked out of the theater, she was surprised to see her car papered with stick-it notes from friends proclaiming their love and concern for her. This shocking sight was followed by her awareness that these friends had been sitting in the parking lot waiting for her for over three hours. The resulting "intervention" convinced her to go to counseling to deal with her grief and helped bring Mandisa back from the darkness that had enveloped her since Kisha's death.
Mandisa is back with a renewed passion for her music and a willingness to be totally transparent and vulnerable about her journey. She's reconnecting with people, losing the weight she regained during her depression, and writing and recording such potent songs as "Prove Me Wrong" where she lays bare her soul and voices her questions; "I'm Still Here (The Best Is Yet To Come)", a comeback song that proclaims that she's still here and not giving up. Said the singer, "My hope is that people will be on this journey with me. When I began, I was in a really dark place, but where I am today is so much better and so much lighter!"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.