American Idol alum and Inspirational recording star Mandisa credits Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan for providing ‘soulful’ inspiration growing up, but insists the word of God was more important than taking a crack at mainstream success. Mandisa, after being seen by millions on American Idol, made what can be seen as surprising — the decision to record an Inspirational album instead of focusing on mainstream/R&B success like several of her counterparts. “While I grew up on Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin… the word that comes most naturally is all about encouraging people,” Mandisa told Singersroom when discussing her forthcoming album “Freedom”. “I knew that going into Christian music I could still have some of the soul sound that I grew up on but make the music about the most important person in my life and that’s Jesus!” Also citing American Idol judge Randy Jackson, Mandisa says he (Jackson) said “do the music that comes most natural for you”. With that being said Mandisa is on track to encourage others through the album “Freedom”. Due in stores this week, March 24, “Freedom” features empowering songs like “Leave It In The Valley,” “Victorious,” and “Freedom Song”. “Freedom,” featuring “My Deliverer,” will be made available at digital retailers via Sparrow Records Tuesday.