Mandisa: True freedom found in God

Author: jay Pee Genre:

Gospel performer Mandisa defines herself not by the world’s standards, but God’s, and said she has finally discovered what freedom means. Her sophomore album “Freedom”, available on March 24, is a testimony to her struggles with food and deliverance from her addiction. After five weeks, the first single, “My Deliverer” is number 16 on Billboard’s Christian Adult Contemporary chart. “Lose my Soul”, her collaboration with Toby Mac and Kirk Franklin is at number eight.
“I used to think freedom was the fact that I’m free to do anything I want to do,” she said via telephone from her home in Tenn. “True freedom is doing what I want to do within the boundaries of God.”
The Grammy and Dove Award nominee had a goal to lose 100 pounds before the March release of “Freedom”. “I’ve lost 80 pounds,” she proudly admits.
In order to lose the weight, she had to change not only the way she eats, but she had to dig deeper into the word of God. “The more time we spend with God the more we are chiseled into the image of His son,” she said. “We need to reflect the glory of God.”
Mandisa hit the national scene as a contestant in the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. Her powerhouse voice garnered her loyal fans, but judge Simon Cowell brought up her weight with such comments as needing a bigger stage. Mandisa said his comments hurt, but she credits Simon with helping her learn how to forgive.
“I’ve just learned based on the word of God, that we should forgive because all that God has forgiven us for.” This is exactly what she told Cowell during the show and he apologized for his comments. She said she forgave for herself though. “I’ve learned that forgiveness is as much for the person. Simon would have gone the rest of his life not thinking about anything he said. I would have gone on and let a bitter root set in me,” she said. “I forgave him for me. As soon as you realize that you are holding on to anger, then forgive.”
Although she finished ninth on American Idol, she has found success as a solo performer in Contemporary Christian music. In 2007 she debuted “True Beauty”, the highest chart entry for a debut artist in Sparrow Records history and the only female soloist to hit number one in the 27-year history of Billboard Christian Retail charts. In 2008, “True Beauty” was nominated for Grammy’s “Best pop/Contemporary Gospel Album” and she was nominated for the Gospel Music Association Dove Award for “Female Vocalist of the Year” and “New Artist of the Year”.
She said last year’s nominations were a total surprise but she really didn’t expect her Dove Award nomination this year for “Female Vocalist of the Year”, which will air April 23 on the Gospel Music Channel at 8 p.m. EST. Among the nominees are Francesca Battistelli, Brooke Fraser, Karen Peck Gooch, Natalie Grant, Sandi Patty and Laura Story. “I don’t allow awards to define my success because I really want to let the fruit and the message speak,” she said. “But, these are saying you are on the right track.”
Mandisa is humble about all of her success and credits her relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost. The Calif. native said one of the songs on the “Freedom” album, “Not Guilty” speaks to the message of grace from Christ. “We are given the verdict of not guilty. It is not by our works but it is the grace of Jesus Christ.”
For now, the 32-year-old said she is trying to stay focused on singing about this message of grace and freedom found in a relationship with Christ. “God has given us freedom over anything that will hold us captive.”

MANDISA - "Freedom" Stories behind the songs, Courtesy Sparrow Records

1.My Deliverer “My Deliverer” is one of my favorite songs on the album and it is because it’s my testimony. When I first heard it I felt so drawn to it because of what God had been doing in my life with setting me free from food. And to be able to say that more than diet and more than exercise, that the reason I can sit before you sixty pounds lighter is because my Deliverer has set me free from all that held me captive.

2. How Much How Much” is a song that is just an encouraging, it’s encouraging to people. It lets them know, do you understand how much God loves you? Do you understand the heights and the depths and the breadth of his love for you and I just don’t think that people really grasp the love that He has for each of us as His child. And so that song is just a song letting people know how much you are loved by the father.

3. He is With You
“He is With You” is one of my favorite songs on the album because I think it hits every single situation you could imagine. No matter if you are a man or a woman or black or white or young or old, God is with you and God loves you and God will never leave you and He will never forsake you.

4. Definition of Me
“Definition of Me” is one of those songs that when I get on my treadmill, I have to blast it and it gets me working like no other. It’ a song, sort of my message from “True Beauty”, the fact that its not how I look, it’s not what people think of me, it’s no even my voice that defines who I am. The definition of me is my father and His love for me and it features Blanca Reyes who’s my hero. She’s from the amazing group, it’s called Group 1 Crew and I absolutely love her and I love what she added to this song as well.

5. Not Guilty
“Not Guilty” is a song that I co-wrote with a guy named Sam Izell and Matthew West and it is a song, I read an e-mail several years ago and I’ve seen it several times that’s all about what it world be like when we die and when we got to sort of that courtroom in Heaven where we are all gonna be held accountable for how we lived here on earth but the fact that I have a relationship with Jesus and the fact that His blood covers me I know and I am guaranteed that I will hear the words not guilty from my Father because Jesus’ blood covers me.

6. Leave It In the Valley
“Leave It In the Valley” is, it’s an encouraging song for people to let them know no matter what you’re going through that Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil and so I think people need to recognize that in these times where things can be very difficult, that we serve a God who promises that if we would yoke ourselves with Him that He would make our burdens easy and light and so it’s just a song encouraging people that no matter what you’re going through just leave it in the valley.

7. Victorious
I love the word of God and I believe that everything that has been written, has been written for us as believers to give us encouragement and hope and when I look at the scripture and when I see the stories of God’s faithfulness and the story of how He helped people to overcome it just gives me hope to know that He too will help me overcome. The song is chocked full of scriptures about how God has done miraculous things in the past and how that same God will do miraculous things in our lives as believers.

8. Broken Hallelujah 
“Broken Hallelujah” is one of the most moving songs I have ever heard. I believe that there is a presence of the Lord that comes when we as believers offer up a sacrifice of praise and I think that when things are not going the best, when our circumstances could not look worse, I think that when we offer up a Hallelujah to the Lord that that honors him more than any other thing. And so “Broken Hallelujah” is a song that mirrors the power that can happen when we as believers lift up that sacrifice of worship to His name.

9. Freedom Song
“Freedom Song” is another song that I wrote with Sam Izell and Matthew West that is basically what it says, it is all about shouting Hallelujah to our great God who has set us free.

10. Dance, Dance, Dance
“Dance, Dance, Dance”, you know if anybody has ever seen me in show they know that this is something I like to do and I can’t help it. I mean when I think about how God has set me free and when I think about how good He has been to me, when I think about where he has brought me from there’s just something that happens to me and I just want to jump up and down and dance all around and that’s what this song helps me to do.

11. You Wouldn’t Cry
“You Wouldn’t Cry” is probably my favorite song on this album and it is a tribute to a little boy named Andrew who was stillborn in his mother’s womb, Rebecca. It’s a fan that I met and to be able to honor her and to be able to honor Andrew’s memory with this song means the world to me and I also believe it will encourage people who have lost loved ones recently to let them know that your loved one, if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ, is in a far better place than we could ever imagine.

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