2 Philly singers in final rounds of ‘American Idol’

Catie Turner of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, performs on the ABC television show,

Catie Turner of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, performs on the ABC television show, "American Idol." (ABC/Eric McCandless)

With a primary election coming up, you might have seen yard signs popping up in support of one candidate or another.

Signs around Middletown Township, Bucks County, are seeking your vote for someone who will not be on the ballot May 15.

Catie Turner is one of two singers in the region who have made it to the final rounds of “American Idol.” Turner of Langhorne and Michael Woodard of East Falls will perform Sunday on live television, with viewers voting in real time. The two are among the remaining seven contestants on the popular talent search show.

The Middletown Department of Parks and Recreation got into the act by printing yard signs promoting the native daughter of Langhorne.

Turner plays up her small-town upbringing in her stage act, at one time delivering a version of Blondie’s “Call Me” while wearing a dress befitting “Little House on the Prairie.”

She came to music relatively late for a teenage performer. Her early years of high school were socially awkward, she said, so she sought out something at which to excel — and started seeing a vocal coach.

“The biggest part, I think, I had in helping Catie was getting her to see what the rest of us were hearing when she sings,” said Cheri Tigh of Middletown. “To help instill more confidence. Catie had a tough time in school, you know. Catie is a quirky person. She’s outside the box.”

Before advancing to the final rounds of “American Idol,” Turner and Woodard did not know each other — Woodard grew up in Philadelphia and now studies at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles — but they share a similar outlook.

And both are nervous.

From the first audition in front of the show’s celebrity hosts — Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan — both singers have been notable for their anxiety.

Michael Woodard, of the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, performs on the ABC television show, "American Idol."
Michael Woodard of the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia performs on “American Idol.” (ABC/Eric McCandless)

“You know what I love about you?” offered Richie after Woodard sang an Ed Sheeran song a capella. “You have absolutely no experience at all, and nobody cares.”

That’s not entirely true. Woodard won his first televised singing contest — “Majors and Minors” on the Discovery Channel (formerly The Hub) in 2001. He was 14.

But he almost immediately stopped performing. In high school, Woodard kept a low profile, woodshedding his singing talent to prepare himself for a career.

“When I was 14, I didn’t know myself as a performer, for real, for real,” he said, about coming back to the stage now. “I got so nervous because I didn’t know myself as a performer until now. The approach now is completely different. I like it. I like it a lot.”

Woodard paused his studies at the Musicians Institute and his day job at a bowling alley to focus on “American Idol.” The ride has been unreal, he said, and having a grounding in faith has helped.

“If you don’t have God as a foundation, that can be detrimental,” he said. “It can get crazy sometimes.”

Woodard’s mother, Wanda Martin, hosts a regular, 30-minute Facebook Live stream of religious inspirational talk every week, HOPE Victorious, on which she sometimes gives a shoutout to her son on his TV success.

The show’s judges have given Woodard and Turner similar advice: If you’re going to be anxious onstage, make it work for you. Sell your honesty.

Sunday’s live “American Idol” broadcast will have a Prince theme — all remaining contestants will perform one of his songs. Woodard plans to sing “I Would Die 4 U,” and Turner will do “Manic Monday,” a Prince song made a pop hit by The Bangles.

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