Mandisa 'did not harm herself,' was 'weak' from COVID-19 at time of death, claims father

Mandisa | Hannah Burton

The father of late Christian singer Mandisa has said he doesn't believe she died from self-harm and had been “weak,” struggling with recovering from COVID-19, at the time of her death. 

Speaking at his daughter’s celebration of life service on April 27th at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, John Hundley said he’d spoken to detectives on several occasions and had stayed at his daughter’s house since her passing. He announced to the congregation that Mandisa’s official cause of death would not be released for a couple of weeks. 

“But here's what I think happened,” he said. “Mandisa fell down in her bedroom. They found her on the floor. If you look from the rear of her bed, she was laying on the left side. It’s clear that's where she was laying, there was a couple of big rugs there and some clothes. On the right side of the bed, front, was this nightstand. I found her phone on the right side of the bed. There was no way for Mandisa to get around the bed, go out there and get a phone to call for help.

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“She did not harm herself,” he stressed. “As she said, Mandisa loved the Lord and the Lord loved Mandisa. So there's one thing you may not have known. She told me some time ago that she had gotten COVID-19 and she had been weak trying to get over that. But she was trying to press through. We talked so much on Easter morning, but I thought she was going to this conference, and so I had not called her recently but I've talked to her a lot. May she rest in peace now.”

The Franklin Police Department previously said the 47-year-old popstar was found dead in her Beamon Drive home on April 18, adding that there was no indication her death was the result of suspicious or criminal activity.

Mandisa’s death sent shockwaves across the Christian music community, with many, including TobyMac, Danny Gokey, Kirk Franklin and others remembering her faith and impact. 

The singer’s journey to fame began with her appearance on the fifth season of “American Idol” in 2006, where she reached the top 10. The exposure launched her successful career in Christian music, leading to five albums and collaborations with well-known artists. 

On Monday, "American Idol" alumni Colton Dixon, Danny Gokey and Melinda Doolittle will perform "Shackles (Praise You)" live on CBS, a song Mandisa performed as a contestant on the show's fifth season and recorded on her debut album, True Beauty, in 2007.

The singer also candidly discussed her struggles with depression and mental illness, which she outlined in her book,Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God’s Joy

In a 2022 interview with The Christian Post, she revealed her struggles began after one of her closest friends died of breast cancer. At the time, she said through counseling, community and diving deeper into her relationship with God, she began to find healing. 

“Whatever you’re struggling with really does lose its power when it comes out,” she said.

“I'm a big fan of counseling, and I think it's also important that you have people in your life, be it family, friends, people at church, whoever it is, to be able to talk to these things,” she emphasized. “I don't want to see any more headlines of people committing suicide, and that's what happens when it stays in our minds when we don't want to talk about it. You start believing the lies and before you know it, it's over. And I think the way to counteract that is to bring it out to talk to people about it.”

The “Overcomer” singer emphasized that for her, healing is still a “journey,” adding, “I don't want people to think that I have just overcome and I'm victorious, now I'm great. This is very much a journey that I'm still on today. But I believe that healing comes from walking in hand in hand with God."

Following news of her death, artist TobyMac, who collaborated on several songs with Mandisa, remembered her as an "authentic" Christian who wasn't afraid to share her battles with a watching world. 

"She was honest and authentic, but I always left her side feeling better. She watched every act, every night on every tour singing along with a smile that made you feel alive. From 'Lose My Soul' to 'Bleed the Same' to 'Good Mornin' I was honored not only to collaborate with her but to call her friend. She was honest about her struggles and viewed her breakthroughs as an opportunity to let others know that they can experience victories just like her. She saw us as a family. God's family. In all our diversity. All flawed. And all in need of the love of a Good Father, a Heavenly Father."

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