In this week’s episode of American Idol it was revealed that Maddy Curtis, the 16-year-old who endeared Idol viewers with her winning personality and who advanced to the second round of the show on the merits of a soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” was cut from the show. But, says Maddy, from her perspective her American Idol adventure was the furthest thing from a failure.
“It was a phenomenal experience,” she said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) this week. Being given the opportunity to sing on the stage of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood — the theatre where the Academy Awards take place — was an “amazing” opportunity, she said.
But, she continued, “What was so great about [the experience] was not necessarily making it that far, but the story that got out about our family, and the pro-life message that was shown to the world.”
Curtis’ January debut on American Idol won her more than a few fans, not only because of her powerful voice and simple charm (Simon Cowell famously complemented her on not being “annoying,” unlike other contestants her age), but also because of her unusual story: Maddy is from a family of 12 children, four of whom have Down syndrome.
The Idol episode where Maddy first auditioned gave prominent play to Maddy’s home life, featuring footage of her playing with her siblings (three of whom were adopted), and airing her comments about what life is like with siblings with Down syndrome.
“I think some people are a little sceptical of Down syndrome,” she said in that episode, as tears welled up into her eyes. But, she said, “Those four boys bring out the best in every person they meet. They see the world in colors, and we need to see the world that way.”
When asked why she thought people were so moved by her family’s story, she responded, “I feel like it’s probably because kids with down syndrome sometimes aren’t given the chance – like 90% of kids with down syndrome are aborted.”
In fact, it was only a year ago, she said, that her mom first told her about the high abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome. “I couldn’t stop crying,” she said, “because I couldn’t believe it.”
“I guess it’s just a really hard concept for me to grasp. Kids with Down syndrome are so special and people don’t seem to get it I guess.”
In addition to being one of the youngest in a family of 12, Curtis is the daughter of award-winning pro-life blogger and writer Barbara Curtis, who writes the MommyLife blog.
Barbara told LSN that she was surprised at how much coverage the producers of the show gave to Maddy’s unusual life story. She concurred with her daughter that, if getting that story out was “all God wanted to do, that was a lot.” After Maddy was cut in Hollywood, she said, “We came home really not disappointed.”
When asked why she thought people were so drawn to Maddy, and so touched by her story, Barbara answered: “She is a pure, joyful person. What you see is what you get. That was not a show, that’s how she is.”
Right now, said Barbara, their home life consists of four kids with Down syndrome, and Maddy. “She’s naturally just more selfless because she’s looking out for them,” she said. “I think people were intrigued because they might not put that idea together logically, but there was something very intriguing about her because she was so in love with life and with the situation that God put her in.
“Maddy is who she is because she grew up in a certain kind of family and if people understood how wonderful kids with Down syndrome are and the transformative power that they have in a family, everyone would want one.”
The question that remains for Maddy and for the Curtis family, then, is what lies ahead for their blossoming music star.
Maddy told LSN that she doesn’t intend on trying out for American Idol in the future, even though she is only sixteen years old. While she said she enjoyed the experience, she added, “I think I’m much more of a low-key person. I’m not really that much of a camera person. I’m not into the whole five cameras on you all the time.”
Barbara said that since her appearance on American Idol, her daughter has been receiving quite a few invitations, many of which are to perform for or speak at pro-life events.
When asked whether this is something she would consider, Maddy responded, “I think it’s amazing. I don’t know, I guess that would be a lot bigger to me than the American Idol thing, because of the message that goes along with it.”
To her new fans Maddy said she would like to say, “Just that I completely love and I am totally feeling their support … I guess just that I’m really grateful that they would be so supportive and loving.”