Former "American Idol" contestant Madison Shanley sang at her commencement ceremony at Portland State University over the weekend.
It was a touching send off for her classmates, and a special moment for Madison. She may be done with school, but now she's diving into her musical career.
Madison was born a performer. She began singing when she was 5 and loves the theater and acting.
At 17 she won the hearts of "American Idol" judges and got the golden ticket to Hollywood, where she finished among the top 90 contestants that season.
“It was always a dream of mine, and I grew up watching the show and dreamed of auditioning someday,” Madison said. “I felt like it was a dream the entire time. I was surrounded by so many talented performers. Every performer was talented in their own way and I imagined how difficult it would be to make cuts and send people forward and send people home. But I made amazing connections and I still talk to those people today.”
Since the show, Madison has sang the national anthem in front of thousands, performing at a Timbers game and the track and field Olympic trials, among others.
“I've been lucky to perform for the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers,” she said. “It's so electrifying feeling that energy. There's nothing like it.”
In addition to recently launching her first single, Madison just graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Theater Arts.
Though she's sung in many stadiums, she said nothing will compare to the special sendoff she experience while singing for her peers at the graduation.
“Not only is it a special day for me because I'm finishing college, but I get to sing our nation's anthem for all of our peers,” Madison said. “I feel honored.”
Madison recently signed with an agent that serves in Portland and LA, but this is just the beginning. She is looking to expand her music career and even branch into more areas.
“I'm looking to join a band. Portland is so rich with opportunity and I'm looking forward to tackling that,” she said. ”My goal isn't to become famous but to do what I love as an actor or singer. Performing in small venues makes me happy. It feeds my soul to be able to go on stage and do what I love.”
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