Mandisa grew up in Sacramento where she sang at church and studied vocal performance at American River College. She continued her studies at Fisk University in Nashville where she was a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. After college, Mandisa worked as a session and backup vocalist for Trisha Yearwood and Shania Twain. In 2006, she competed in the fifth season of American Idol and following her elimination she plugged herself into the contemporary Christian and gospel markets. In 2007, she appeared with Kirk Franklin on tobyMac's Portable Sounds and released her debut album, True Beauty. It topped Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart. She released a holiday recording, It's Christmas, and her second studio album, the Grammy-nominated Freedom, in 2009. What If We Were Real released in 2011, and in 2013 Overcomer won the award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. Out of the Dark arrived four years later.