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It’s hard to believe that it’s been just a couple of years since Mandisa shot to instant fame when millions of TV viewers across the nation were captivated by her winning smile and powerhouse vocals as she sang her way into the final rounds of “American Idol’s” fifth season. Today Mandisa is a Grammy and Dove award nominee who garnered a multitude of new fans who now simply refer to her as “Mandisa,” and wowed critics with her stunningly expressive voice.

Mandisa says about her sophomore album, "Freedom", “These songs are true to me; they’re songs I identify with,” “I can’t wait to start singing them because they reflect my story – the things I’ve been through, and the things I’m still going through now. Each one means something special to me.” The anticipation for new music from this celebrated vocalist is great. Aside from last year’s critically-acclaimed holiday project It’s Christmas (2008), the AC and pop-flavored "Freedom" is the follow-up to Mandisa’s 2007 debut, True Beauty, an album that created history by becoming the highest chart entry and made her the best-selling debut artist in the life of her label, Sparrow Records. It also became the only female debut to hit No. 1 in the 27-year history of Billboard’s Christian Retail Chart. True Beauty received a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album, the single “Only the World” became a Top 5 hit at Christian radio, and Mandisa was lauded one of the “Best New Artists of 2007” by multiple media outlets. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s this: In the past year alone, Mandisa has made appearances on “Today,” “Live with Regis & Kelly,” “CBS Early Show,” “Fox & Friends,” “Extra,” “TV Guide Channel,” “E! News Radio” “Huckabee” and “Associated Press TV.” She even discussed Lindsay Lohan and addiction with “CNN Showbiz Tonight.” In 2009 Mandisa spoke out to thousands of women across the U.S. as she becomes part of the celebrated Women of Faith events. Needless to say, Mandisa has been established as one of the most promising new talents in the Christian music industry. But she takes nothing for granted, and is quick to point out what’s truly important to her.

Since the months and years that have followed her days on American Idol, the debut CD and book, Mandisa has realized how much that experience and everything she learned from it has given her a platform to reach out to others through her music. It became a major part of the songs she recorded for True Beauty, but she has gracefully moved into an even deeper understanding of who she is now and what she wants to communicate through the new collection of songs she recorded for "Freedom". The jubilant first single, “My Deliverer,” is a perfect example of the empowering message that builds the foundation of the entire album. With its buoyant pop/funk track backing her up, Mandisa sings with a carefree confidence about feeling more alive than ever. “If there’s any one song that truly reflects what God is doing in my life, this is that song,” Mandisa explains. “My struggle with weight has been, and will probably continue to be, the biggest battle of my life. There are certainly physical ways in which I’m now taking control of that addiction, but more important than that, it’s a spiritual warfare issue for me as well.

I have to ask for God’s help every single day, so I know that it’s going to take a whole lot more than any diet plan or any exercise plan to set me free. He is truly my deliverer who is setting me free from all of this, and he’s the reason I’m so excited about being able to sing this song.” Mandisa continues the theme with the urban/gospel stylings of “Freedom Song,” one of several tracks she co-penned with songwriters Matthew West and Sam Mizell. Complete with a gospel choir and B3 organ, Mandisa lets loose on this song she calls a “praise party” about freedom that can be found in Christ. “I wanted to do a song that was from the perspective of a lot of different people – a mother and wife who has lost her identity, a child who is from a broken home or maybe a man who has been bound by addiction for several years. All of us, no matter what our circumstances, can find freedom in Christ. And when you’ve found freedom like that, you’ve got to shout it out.”

Producers Brown Bannister and Christopher Stevens expertly guided these songs between styles while staying true to Mandisa’s own personality and character. They were able to extract a range of some of the most powerful and poignant performances from this artist to date, including “He is With You,” which re-teamed her with writer Ronnie Freeman, and is one of Mandisa’s personal favorites on the album
because she believes it hits every single situation anyone could imagine. As she says, “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.”

One of the album’s most stirring songs is its final track, “You Wouldn’t Cry (Andrew’s Song).” It holds a tender place in Mandisa’s heart because it was written for a new friend she made this past year who was pregnant, but whose baby boy, Andrew, was stillborn. “I wanted to do a song from Andrew’s perspective about what he would say if he could speak to his Mom right now from heaven and comfort her.” Co-written with singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan, the song’s tender verses and melodic refrain, perfectly delivered by Mandisa’s clear, crisp vocals, are sure to be a comfort to all who have lost loved ones in their lives. More than anything else, that sums up the heart behind Freedom. It’s simply an outpouring of what Mandisa is learning through the relationships she has with those God has placed in her life, and the relationship she has with him.

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