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The road to Hollywood

Langhorne teen Catie Turner will be featured on season 16 premiere of American Idol March 11

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

It’s showtime: Eighteen-year-old Langhorne resident Catie Turner will be featured on the season 16 premiere episode of American Idol this Sunday. A Neshaminy High School student and member of its Select Choir, Turner’s wish is to “bring some glory” to her hometown. SOURCE: Kelsey Illiano Photography

Two years ago, millions of viewers across America were left scratching their heads. It was the (supposedly) final episode of American Idol’s 15-year run. But as the confetti rained down upon the stage after Trent Harmon was crowned the winner, host Ryan Seacrest’s cryptic last words hinted otherwise — “One more time, this is so tough, we say to you from Hollywood, goodnight America…for now.”

Um, what? Is it over or not? Surprise, surprise, it’s not. Longtime fans rejoiced when it was announced American Idol would be picked up by ABC, especially Langhorne resident Catie Turner, whose audition in front of the celebrity judges will air during the premiere episode on Sunday, March 11.

Though we’ll all have to tune in together this weekend to see if Turner received that golden ticket to Hollywood, The Times caught up with the 18-year old to chat about her whirlwind journey and the enigma that is Seacrest’s never aging face.

With her bubbly yet humble demeanor, it’s safe to say Turner is already a star in the making. A self-described “native” of Langhorne, she was born and raised in the area. Turner began to discover her knack for singing at the age of 11, but it wasn’t until she attended Neshaminy High School that this hobby transformed into a serious passion.

“That’s where I really started to take control of my musical life,” she said.

Turner doesn’t box her musical style into one specific genre. Rather, it’s anything she can sing along to while strumming the guitar, an instrument she picked up three years ago. When she’s not embracing the singer-songwriter life, penning her own lyrics, Turner performs with Neshaminy’s Select Choir, which recently performed at the Kimmel Center alongside The Philly Pops after winning 101.1 MoreFM’s Christmas Choir Competition.

Despite Turner’s busy extracurricular schedule, she put everything on pause when she learned American Idol was coming back. Turner had auditioned for the show in a previous season, but was unfortunately rejected by producers before getting in front of the celebrity judges. This was her second chance.

“I really hopped on the opportunity,” she reflected.

Immediately, Turner submitted her audition video through an online application portal. To her dismay, the show still didn’t want to move forward with her. But she wasn’t about to take “no” for an answer. Neither was her mother, Catherine, whom Turner watched American Idol with from the age of 2.

In true supportive parent fashion, Catherine purchased two tickets for her and her daughter to fly to Orlando, where the “Idol Bus” was hosting open auditions for the public. At 4 a.m., Turner got in line with countless other aspiring artists looking for that big break. After a number of nerve-wracking hours of waiting and watching, it was time for Turner to show the producers all she had to offer. And this time, it worked.

In October, Turner journeyed to New York to audition in front of the celebrity judges for the first time. Like Orlando, she described the experience as an “all-day process” beginning at 6 a.m. But when you’re closer than ever to achieving your dream, lack of sleep is completely worth it.

As Turner waited outside the performance room, Seacrest helped put her at ease…mostly because her thoughts shifted from her audition to how young he appeared, even after 15 years in the spotlight.

“That man is immortal,” she laughed.

After what felt like ages, it was her turn to step foot in front of Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, the all-new trio of judges. Not intimidating at all, right?

“It’s something you can’t digest all the way,” Turner said. “I went numb.”

Despite her nerves, she gave the audition everything she could, singing “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears as well as an original song. Turner admits those few minutes were such a blur, viewing Sunday’s episode will be like experiencing it for the first time.

“I just kept thinking to myself, don’t say anything stupid,” she said.

As the country prepares itself for one of the biggest nights in television, Turner has a few simple wishes. First, she hopes to inspire fellow dreamers through her story of determination. Just giving it one more shot can make all the difference.

“If you just try enough, it will happen,” she said. “Don’t give up. It’s so cliche, but it’s true.”

Second, Turner wants to make her hometown community proud.

“I want to bring some glory to Langhorne,” she said.

Will Turner outshine Pink as the next superstar to come out of Bucks County? Tune in to the premiere episode of American Idol on ABC, Sunday, March 11, at 8 p.m. to find out. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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