LATHAM — There are 13 other hopefuls standing between Madison VanDenburg and the title that gave Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood the platform to become household names.
VanDenburg, 17, has made a splash on this season of “American Idol.” On Sunday, she performed in the celebrity duo round with icons and husband-wife pair Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. The trio sang “We Belong” by Benatar.
“What an absolute honor to sing with these two,” VanDenburg posted on her Instagram after the episode aired. “I don’t understand how I got here but I am so forever grateful.”
The young pop star is wowing the judges at every step, with country star Luke Bryan drawing parallels to Clarkson, the season one winner of the popular show. The comparisons floor VanDenburg and give her a mission to continue giving her high-caliber performances.
“I’ve been listening to Kelly Clarkson since I was a kid,” VanDenburg said. “It’s very exciting to be hearing this, but it’s also so intimidating. I want to continue holding myself to the standard they [Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry] are expecting of me.”
VanDenburg added performing for the star-studded panel is a lot of pressure because they know what makes or breaks the people that ultimately find success in the industry.
“I’ve learned so much so far,” she continued. “The excitement has been building and as we get further into this experience, I’m excited for viewers to see what I’ve been doing.”
VanDenburg, a Shaker High School junior and a student of Clifton Park’s Modern Day Music School, hopes to keep the momentum going. Her audition garnered her a “golden ticket,” or a unanimous admission to the Hollywood rounds. The cameras showed Bryan and Perry developing goosebumps as the teen belted “Speechless” by country duo Dan + Shay. Since then, she’s been stepping up her game with each performance, in the hopes of getting a coveted spot in the final live rounds.
“This has been such a blur,” she concluded. “That being said, the kindness of strangers has been overwhelmingly positive. I never could have dreamed up such an amazing response. I’m nervous, but I’m ready to finish strong and bring all I’ve got.”