It’s been four years since The Times first introduced its readers to Catie Turner, a recent Neshaminy grad who, thanks to her quirky charm and vocal talents, won the hearts of millions on American Idol season 16.
In some ways, things are still the same. Turner fiercely remains her authentically goofy, oversharing self. She began our recent Zoom call by vehemently apologizing for being in the middle of the Starbucks drive-thru line and showed off her tasty, green drink upon receiving it.
But it’s this exact characteristic that has brought major changes to Turner’s life. The 18-year-old in gogo boots who auditioned for Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie has transformed into a thriving musical artist who, thanks to her relatable “teenage crisis” anthems about anxiety, breakups and laziness, is at the top of her game.
Not only is Turner, 22, now a permanent west coast resident (though she makes almost monthly trips back to Langhorne to cure the homesickness), she’s a member of the Atlantic Records family, is preparing to embark on a tour with LÉON (which makes a stop at Philadelphia’s Theatre of Living Arts on June 28), and is cranking out personal singles that resonate with her ever-growing fanbase.
Several days before our interview, Turner released “Nothing,” a catchy ode to one of her less-desirable personality traits.
“My inspiration was my stubbornness. The one event that really made me write ‘Nothing’ was my friend being like, ‘I’m gonna start a running regimen.’ I said how I wished I could do it too. She said I could and I realized, I could wake up early. I could use my legs to run. I just don’t want to,” she said with a laugh. “I just complain and so I put it in a song.”
“Nothing,” which boasts an uptempo melody, came on the heels of the more “depressing” track “God Must Hate Me.” Turner said, “My mom wouldn’t let me play it for her in the car because she just thought it was too sad. So, ‘Nothing’ was kind of my compromise. I was like, ‘Hey guys, you’re gonna get an uptempo song, but it’s still kind of sad.’”
Turner’s fans regularly tell her how much the artist’s lyrics resonate with them and help them understand they’re not alone. However, the fans are also helping Turner. She said, “That’s the cool thing about music. I just thought I was crazy, how I complain a lot and don’t actually fix it. A lot of people were like, ‘No, it’s completely normal. I do the same thing.’ I was like, ‘Yes, I feel very seen.’”
Currently, Turner has her ambitions set on releasing her very first full-length album, which she intends to be a mixture of slow and fast tracks to please the sad song lovers, in addition to her mom. As far as the release date, she guessed “somewhere in between summer and never, but hopefully soon.”
When asked how it feels to pursue a music career in an era of social media and viral videos, Turner explained the pros and cons.
“It is really fun being in control and not waiting on a label to decide one day to make you a star. It’s not like the ‘90s where they had to give you the resources. Now, you have the power to put yourself out there more, but also that is kind of the flip of it,” she said. “Some days, putting all your worth into a video going viral can really have an impact on your mental health. It’s been a good and a bad, but I’m trying to find more of the good. I just try and think of everything as one big joke, which helps me not take it too seriously and overthink everything.”
Still, a stressful moment occurred when Turner released a snippet of “God Must Hate Me” on TikTok. Ironically, this clip did go viral, but Turner had yet to complete the song.
“From the time I released that TikTok and it coming out, it was like, two weeks in between getting it fully produced, fully written. It was crazy,” she reflected. “Probably the most stress of my life, but it was the most rewarding stress and if I’ve aged a couple years, it’s OK.”
Beginning in May and through the end of June, Turner is hitting the road with Swedish singer-songwriter LÉON. She’s thrilled to play to larger audiences at bigger venues. As far as a typical Catie Turner set, she described it as, “Chaotic. A lot of chaos. I would say it’s the equivalent of when you have to give a presentation to your class, but you don’t rehearse. You don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
Though Turner loves singing on stage and meeting fans, there’s one aspect of tour life that she simply can’t get enough of.
“In the country when it’s the middle of nowhere, there are so many antique shops just on the side of the road. That’s where I find everything that makes me love touring so much,” she said. “I come back with so many cool knick knacks.”
Despite her busy schedule, Turner hasn’t forgotten about her humble American Idol beginnings and is watching the current season. She’s rooting for 20-year-old Leah Marlene, who the judges actually compared to Turner during her audition.
“It is very flattering because Leah can sang. She is a really amazing singer and performer. I would be honored to be compared to her, so the fact that they compared her to me, I was like, ‘Wow, this is an amazing ego boost,’” said Turner. “It doesn’t feel real, but I’m honored.”
Turner has come a long way from her years growing up in Langhorne and hanging out at the Oxford Valley Mall. But she’ll never forget her hometown.
“I love Langhorne so much and I miss it,” she said. “I thank everyone there for their continued support. I’m gonna make sure people respect Bucks County!”
Keep up with Catie Turner at catieturner.com.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com