From your experience, is it frowned upon to sing Christian songs on American Idol?

Mandisa When I sang Mary Mary's "Shackles," the producers were not really happy about it. But it's not like I had to convince them. If the song gets cleared [legally through publishing], then you can technically sing whatever you want to.

Phil Stacey The producers want us to be who we are. There have been Christians on the show for a long time. I think that Bo Bice laid a lot of groundwork with the producers [during Season 4], just in the fact that he was a good Christian on the show. He would be there and read his Bible any time they were sitting idly during rehearsals. Carrie Underwood was also a great example of a Christian that same year. Then Mandisa comes along the following year and she's very evangelical with her approach, publicly saying, "I'm here to share the love of Jesus Christ." The following season it's me, Chris, Melinda, Jordin, LaKisha, and others coming out and saying we're Christians too, singing songs to glorify Jesus Christ. We were encouraged to do what we want to do, so it's apparently become less frowned upon [the last couple years].

There really is a contrast between the flak Mandisa caught for singing "Shackles" and two years later when contestants are singing "Shout to the Lord" and Dolly Parton songs explicitly referencing Jesus.

Mandisa Dolly Parton Week was like Jesus Week on American Idol! Things really have changed a lot in two years. We never would have gotten away with singing "Shout to the Lord" in my season. I think that the more people that have come on and talked about their faith, the more it's broken down barriers.

So you believe there must be some sort of change of heart among the producers?

Mandisa I will ...

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