Troup County teen reaches for stardom on American Idol

Steena Hymes Staff Writer

January 21, 2014

Madison Merna, 16, of Troup High School may be on her way to stardom in this season’s American Idol. Merna auditioned for American Idol last July and this week, viewers will find out if she made it to Hollywood.

When she heard that American Idol was coming to Atlanta, Merna made the decision to fulfill a lifelong dream. Merna had to pass through several auditions before she even made it to the celebrity judge panel. Accompanied by her uncle Mike Merna, she also had the support of 16 Troup High School cheerleaders who followed her to each audition.

Merna said she watched American Idol since the beginning and has always dreamed of being on the show. She has been singing since she was a little girl and even won 1st place in the Star Power competition in Athens when she was only 10 years old against 200 other competitors. Her uncle, Mike Merna, said even as a baby, she was drawn to musical toys.

She is frequently asked by her school to sing at school functions. She also performs around town and at several talents shows.

Merna has an advantage being a double threat as she taught herself to play guitar. She also taught herself to sing at a young age and said she has never had a voice lesson.

For her audition, Merna sang Nobody Knows by Pink. However, despite her pop song choice, she compared her sound to that of Miranda Lambert and aspires to be a country singer. Merna hopes to follow in the first steps of her personal idol and American Idol legend Carrie Underwood. She called Underwood her “inspiration” for pursuing a music career.

Perhaps her already active singing experiences prepared Merna for her American Idol audition. Merna said she wasn’t nervous or intimidated by the judges and enjoyed the experience to sing for them.

“I wanted to show my personality,” she said. “I wanted to show them that I mean business, that I want to sing for the rest of my life.”

One of her most enjoyable moments was camaraderie between the singers in the waiting room.

“You meet really nice, genuine people and I still keep in touch with my friends I met there,” she said.

Merna has been surrounded by support, but her biggest supporter is in her uncle Mike.

“I’m here to support her, back her and makes sure she gets everything she needs for this,” he said.

He signed for temporary legal guardianship over Merna so he could travel with her throughout this whole process.

“He’s been here for me the whole time,” Merna said.

For months Merna has been keeping quiet on her audition due to contract obligations with the show.

“My school, everyone around me always ask me about it and I’m like ‘I cant say, you have to watch’,” she said.

Everyone will have the chance to support Merna and watch the airing of her audition Thursday, Jan. 23. Troup High School will be hosting a viewing party from 7:30-10 with Merna singing before the show airs. The party is open to public and refreshments will be provided.

“Even if I don’t make it big in American Idol, maybe someone else can notice my talent and recognize what I have,” Merna said.