Mandisa: A Lost Treasure

Mandisa: A Lost Treasure

I never knew Mandisa, the talented and yet troubled singer who fought numerous battles before apparently succumbing to them in mid-April, when she was found dead at her Nashville home. (Her father blames it on Covid.)

Mandisa: A Lost Treasure blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: Mandisa Overcomer The Greatest Hits album cover.I was a latecomer to her fan club, only relatively recently hearing “Overcomer,” the title track of her 2014 Grammy-award-winning album.

There is a separate thread of how I learned about her tune. I discovered it watching the 2019 movie of the same name, produced by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick.

For those not familiar with their history, the Kendrickses were at a Southern Baptist church in Georgia when they started making movies two decades ago. They were so successful they left the staff to create independent films.

In 2011 I got a freelance assignment to write a story about a trio of cast members in Courageous. The only advance screening in our area was a 45-minute drive away, but my wife and I made it a night date and enjoyed dinner before the premiere.

A Late Discovery

Since the Kendrickses’ releases are usually at least two years apart, I caught all of them until Overcomer. I’m not sure how I missed it, but it was two or three years after its debut that I came across the DVD at the library.

The story about finding one’s identity in Christ is shaped around a high school coach struggling amid his town’s economic calamity and the girl he inspires to run for a state championship. It was typical Kendrick Brothers fare: faith-based and inspiring. You don’t mind watching it again.

Rather than opening the movie as I would have expected, Mandisa’s tune came at the end. It proved to be perfect positioning, adding a crescendo to the girl’s cross country title.

Later, I decided to Google the film and see if there were a soundtrack or other information about that incredible song.

Yes, years after she made her debut on American Idol, won a Grammy and appeared at countless Christian concerts and other venues, I didn’t know a thing about Mandisa. Yet I finally discovered the tune online.

Living in My Head

To say I love “Overcomer” is a bit of an understatement. I would like it played one day at my funeral, to emphasize its symbolic significance to my career.

Pictured: A boxer punching with his right arm. Black and white photography.In some ways, the past two years freelancing have reminded me of the first two, when I would wonder why I was trying to make a living at this when I could just go get a real job.

Despite having experienced years of riding this roller coaster, the ups and downs are still challenging. And during the recent dips, I have regularly slapped on headphones to listen to Mandisa—especially the refrain: “Don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer…”

I learned more about her last year while doing a developmental edit on a second book for an author who had previously disclosed some personal struggles. He mentioned reading an interview with Mandisa that he found courageous.

After he posted comments about it on Instagram, she sent him a note that said in part, “I want to thank you for YOUR words. Since my (2022) book came out, I’ve been feeling very vulnerable; like I shared too much. … Your words reminded of why I did it.”

That gracious note made a deep impression on me. It showed that Mandisa wasn’t just a great singer, but a caring person. That she departed at 47 is a huge loss for all of us.

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