From Cohoes, New York, Madison VanDenburg has sung herself all the way to the Top 3 on Season 17 of American Idol. Even though the 17-year-old is only in her junior year at Shaker High School, the powerhouse vocalist has wowed audiences in Los Angeles, California week after week with her dynamic range. And come finale time on Sunday night, she could become one of the youngest champions in Idol history.
The backbone of Madison’s support team throughout the competition has been her parents, Skip VanDenburg and Denine O’Conner. While they’re no longer married, her parents are very much united in support of their daughter, who’s been dubbed “the next Kelly Clarkson” during ABC’s reboot of Idol. And like the millions of fans voting for her each week, both Skip and Denine can’t help but admire how much Madison has grown over the course of the competition.
“My mom and dad have been there from day one, supporting my dream,” VanDenburg told the Daily Gazette. “And they’re still here and they’re more excited than ever.” Madison cut her teeth performing at her father’s restaurant, Philly’s Bar and Grill, in Latham, New York, and he’s been the guardian by her side during the entire Idol journey.
While viewers saw Skip featured on the show, who had Madison’s even back when she dreamed of becoming a soapbox derby star, there was no sign of her mother, Denine, on Idol So, where was she?
After Hollywood Week started on Idol, in which a featurette video starred her Dad as both her No.1 fan and talent manager, Madison wanted to make sure that her mother also received credit for her success as a singer. On March 24, she posted the following message on her Facebook page:
“Tonight, they focused on me and my dad’s relationship and I loved sharing that with the world! But I want to take time here to appreciate my mom as well because I feel like the way things were highlighted, she seemed vacant from my life and that’s not the truth. My mom has been a huge part of my life for my entire life and has supported my music just as much as my dad.”
Madison also explained, “She has a serious traumatic fear of flying and couldn’t take an entire month off to drive to L.A. from [New York]. But she has been by my side whether it’s thru FaceTime or phone calls or text messages every step of the way.”
While Denine is also taking care of Madison’s younger half-siblings, Colton and Chloe O’Conner, despite her fear of flying, she found a way to make it to Hollywood to see her daughter perform. With a trailer adorned with a sign that read “American Idol Bound: Madison VanDenburg,” Denine packed her bags and made the cross-country trip to Los Angeles, with Colton and Chloe in tow, and will be there for the finale episode on May 19.