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Mandisa, a fan favorite, advances to next round of ‘American Idol’

NEW YORK (BP)–Mandisa, the contestant who endeared herself to fans by publicly expressing forgiveness to one of the show’s judges, has advanced to the next round of the popular television show “American Idol” and observers say she has a good shot at winning the whole thing.

She took the stage first during the Top 12 Girls show Feb. 21 and made a memorable impression with her version of Heart’s “Never.” Even Simon Cowell, the judge who knocked her weight and then was humbled by her forgiveness, was impressed with her performance.

“I think you’ve just thrown down the gauntlet to the other 11 girls, and I think we are going to see you all the way through to the finals of the show,” he told her during the broadcast.

Mandisa — who prefers to be known by her first name — is a regular worship leader at Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences throughout the country and has been vocal during the American Idol competition that her personal relationship with Jesus Christ means more to her than fame.

Fans and industry experts have posted widespread praise of Mandisa on websites and weblogs as she develops a broad following. And because voters decide the winner on American Idol, popularity can only add value to talent.

“Out of the twelve, I managed to pare down the competition to the three female contenders that I feel certain will make it into the top six,” Pat Fish, a reviewer on Blogcritics.org, wrote. “… I was very impressed with Mandisa’s performance and immediately considered that she will move on to at least the top six, if not the top three, of the female contenders. … In fact, after Mandisa, I was mentally eliminating almost every singer of the evening.”

Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly said Mandisa “owned the song [and] owned the stage” when she sang Tuesday night, and he ranked her as one of two “front-running divas” on the show.

A blogger on “Foxes on Idol,” a website playing on the name of the show and its network, Fox, was confident of Mandisa’s potential.

“Mandisa could actually win this thing, and should be in the top 3,” the blogger said.

After her performance during the round of 12, Mandisa received “largely glowing praise from Cowell and his fellow judges, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson,” The New York Times said.

Two women contestants were eliminated after the latest round, and Mandisa will take part next in the Top 10 Girls competition Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. on Fox. Results of the voting will be announced two nights later. A Top 10 Boys list also has been prepared, so Mandisa has made it into the Top 20 American Idol finalists.

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