Man­disa shares jour­ney from dark­ness to light in ‘Over­comer’

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - RELIGION / FEATURES - Tracey Evi­son Tracey Evi­son, a mu­si­cian and ed­u­ca­tor on P.E.I., writes this col­umn for The Guardian ev­ery sec­ond Satur­day. She can be con­tacted by email at trevo­rand­tracey@pei.sym­pa­

Some artists have the gift of reach­ing into their lives and, from their strug­gles and joys, cre­at­ing mu­sic to share with oth­ers.

Man­disa’s project, “Over­comer”, was in­spired by her friend Kisha’s bat­tle with can­cer. Soon af­ter that project was re­leased, how­ever, Kisha suc­cumbed to her ill­ness.

Af­ter Kisha’s pass­ing, Man­disa feel into a deep de­pres­sion, shut­ting her­self away from friends and fam­ily. A group of friends tried to reach her af­ter a trip to a movie cin­ema.

Kisha says, “As I walked closer to my car, I re­al­ized a bunch of my friends had been sit­ting there wait­ing for me. They in­sisted that I get coun­sel­ing and that is what helped me fi­nally start deal­ing with my grief. If that hadn’t hap­pened, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t be here to­day.”

Even­tu­ally the tal­ented singer/song­writer be­gan to deal with her grief.

This pe­riod of in­tense strug­gle is at the cen­tre of Man­disa’s lat­est project, “Out of the Dark” from Spar­row Records. The al­bum was pro­duced by a num­ber of tal­ented artists in­clud­ing Seth Mosley and David Garcia.

Man­disa doesn’t shy away from the pain she felt dur­ing this time of dark­ness. “Out of the Dark” opens with a voice­mail play­back of sev­eral friends call­ing the artist to let her know they care about her.

As track two opens, Man­disa be­gins the mu­si­cal jour­ney of let­ting her lis­ten­ers know about her strug­gles and how God has brought her through the pain, even when she doesn’t un­der­stand. “Out of the Dark” lets lis­ten­ers hear how God has pulled Man­disa from the dark of de­spair and “into the light.”

“Un­fin­ished” is one of my favourites. Man­disa doesn’t shy away from the truth that the Chris­tian life is not al­ways with­out its strug­gles but she sings, “my God’s not done... He started some­thing good…. His work in me ain’t through/ I’m just un­fin­ished.”

Man­disa also brings in her friends Kirk Franklin and TobyMac on “Bleed the Same”, which speaks to the heartache of racism that per­me­ates our world.

“Come­back Kid” is a tes­ti­mony to the power of God mak­ing it pos­si­ble to be a ‘come­back kid’ who won’t give up, de­spite the hard­ships.

Man­disa is just as quick to share her joy. “Dear John Praise Re­port” is her an­nounce­ment that, af­ter years of pray­ing, her brother John had come to faith in Christ.

“Good News” is an ex­u­ber­ant tune of cel­e­bra­tion. “Shame Off”, “Keep Get­ting Up” and “Back to Life” are all re­minders of hope and joy.

Through all the hon­esty of her strug­gles and tri­umphs, Man­disa shares her heart with her mu­sic, a blend of gospel, pop, dance and hip-hop. The mu­sic she shares is beau­ti­ful and the mes­sage be­hind it is even more so.

Contagious melodies per­me­ate the al­bum and make it one that will be heard again and again. I am so glad Man­disa shared her heart and tal­ents with “Out of the Dark.”

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