“Oh my goodness. thank you thank you THANK YOU. top 3. holy moly guacamole. I hope to make you proud next week. Thank you for believing in me. thank you for seeing something in me that I didn’t see myself.”
– Instagram post from Madison VanDenburg, after learning she is
one of three finalists on ABC’s “American Idol.”
ALBANY – Her greatest passion is singing.
Seventeen-year-old singer/songwriter Madison VanDenburg has played the piano and guitar most of her life. The classically trained 11th-grade student at Shaker High School first realized the promise of her talents performing karaoke as a 10-year-old alongside the sounds of Celine Dion – whom she calls one of her biggest musical inspirations.
VanDenburg recently released her debut single, is currently writing new songs for her first EP and performs live across the Capital Region. Sunday May 19 may prove to the biggest moment, if not the most memorable of the young singer’s career when she performs as a finalist on ABC’s “American Idol.” And like fellow “American Idol” contestants Laine Hardy – of Livingston, Louisiana, and Alejandro Aranda - of Pomona, California, returned to her native roots this week.
Her homecoming tour kicked off with a Pep Rally at Shaker High School and continued with a parade and performance at The Crossings of Colonie, where she and played guitar in front of a supportive Capital Region crowd who chanted her name. The Capital District Transportation Authority also got involved by providing transportation shuttle service to concert goers, and Stewart’s Shops introduced a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream flavor in her name.
“As a singer, your instrument is yourself. More important than being on ‘Idol,’ is being a whole, authentic person,” says Clifton Park’s Modern Day Music vocal coach Lesley O’Donnell, who has taught VanDenburg and Moriah Formica - who appeared in 2017 on NBC’s “The Voice.”
“Both have been like the little sisters I never had,” says O’Donnell, whose interview appears in the Home & Garden edition of Simply Saratoga magazine, a Saratoga TODAY publication that is available May 16. “Keeping the whole self - healthy and grounded - is first and foremost.”
The national singing competition show “American idol” first broadcast in 2002. Some of the show’s previous winners have gone on to extensive show biz careers - Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, among them. Adam Lambert was a runner-up during the eighth season of American Idol in 2009.
The season finale airs 8 p.m. Sunday. A nationwide vote will be held during the live finale simulcast to determine who will be crowned the next American Idol. Weezer, Carrie Underwood, Kool + The Gang and all three Idol judges - Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, are expected to perform during the season finale, according to Billboard Magazine. Dan + Shay are slated to perform “All to Myself” and “Speechless” with VanDenburg.