"American Idol" star sings for life, talks about her conversion

A young lady featured on last season’s show is using her talent for a cause: life.

She was interviewed by Washington’s Catholic Standard newspaper:

Maddy Curtis, 17, made it to Hollywood Week on last year’s American Idol season, but she ended up finding a platform for more than her voice. Curtis, who was the first contestant to be sent directly to Hollywood in Season Nine, is the ninth youngest child in a family of 12. Her older brother and three younger adopted brothers all have Down syndrome. The Bluemont, Va., teen – who is a member of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Purcellville – says that Idol allowed her to share about the special gifts of people with Down syndrome. She now wants to use her singing to help promote life issues, including advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

Curtis plans to study vocal performance at Catholic University of America after she graduates from high school this year. The teen will be performing at the Jan. 24 Rally for Life concert at the Verizon Center. (All available tickets for that event have been distributed to area parishes, schools and youth groups.) Below, she talks about her faith, family and future career plans.

How did you become Catholic?

I converted three years ago. My parents, my older brother, my four brothers with Down syndrome and I all converted from being nondenominational Christians. My mom was actually baptized Catholic, but her mom didn’t take her to church. A few years ago my mom felt called to go to Mass by God. She just fell in love with it. Seeing that switch in her made me want to see what this was all about.

I grew up thinking that Catholics weren’t Christian, actually. But then I went to Mass while still going to our other church at the same time. I was reading Catholic literature and going to RCIA. I pretty much fell in love with the Mass, because it’s so different from what I’m used to.

I really fell in love with the reverence, I guess.

What was your American Idol experience like?

I watched the show since I was a little tyke, but I never really wanted to try out, actually. I was really into musical theater at the time. [Friends at school would ask her if she was going to try out and she said no.]

But then one day I came home from school last year, and I felt called to try out. I don’t know what put it in my head. I’m almost positive it was the Holy Spirit. I told my mom…and the very next day we were in Boston for the auditions there. It was crazy…

[Curtis sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at the Boston auditions and was shown on the episode as the first Idol contestant of Season Nine to get unanimous approval from the judges to go to Hollywood Week. She was cut on Day Two of the finals.]

It was a crazy experience. Since I’m going to major in vocal performance, I’m leaning toward opera now. It’s a much different kind of singing.

I just feel like God wanted to use that experience to show how special kids with Down syndrome are. Ninety percent of pregnant women given a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose abortion. That breaks your heart… My brothers are so special to me and have changed me in so many ways. Their whole nature is so happy. My brother Johnny is just a year older than me so we grew up together … I’ve gotten to experience it firsthand how happy and content they can be with everything that’s thrown at them. Johnny always put others first and always has been so happy and content at anything bad that’s thrown at him.

Read the rest.


  1. Elizabeth M says:

    Maddy’s Mom is a Catholic author and blogger at http://mommylife.net/

    She has wonderful insights and experiences to share. It’s clear where Maddy gets her character from.

  2. How beautiful was Maddy’s voice was at the VA Rally for Life. So glad she will be singing @ Verizon Center. What a delight she is!

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