Sure, American Idol has only been back for a week — but we already have a frontrunner! World, meet Maddie Zahm, a 19-year-old Boise native who stole everyone’s hearts when she came out with her pal, Marcus, who has Down Syndrome. The two performed a touching rendition of judge Katy Perry’s “Firework” Check out the touching moment in the video above!
With a performance of Dua Lipa’s “New Rules,” Maddie was able to secure a golden ticket to Hollywood, but it was obvious that it was her relationship with Marcus that really helped her solidify her spot as an early fan favorite. “This is so beautiful, I’m bawling,” one fan wrote as Maddie took the stage. “This is the sweetest thing. And she has such an amazing voice.”
Another wrote, “OMG that was beautiful — I want a friendship like that too. Did you guys see that big smile Marcus gave?! When you get to sing a beautiful Katy song in front of Katy… She was so good too and the guitar sounded beautiful with her voice!”
During her audition montage, Maddie explained that she struggles with PCOS and, during high school, gained 100 pounds in a single year, which shattered her self-confidence. As a result, she stopped singing for years, but eventually reignited her love with performing after she began working as a music teacher for students with special needs.
“It was right there in that difficult time that I met my best friend Marcus. I accidentally walked in to a music class for kids with disabilities and it turns out, that was the best mistake I ever made,” she said. “Because there was just this incredible human being — standing up, singing a Katy Perry song — and I just knew he was someone that I needed to meet. I could sense that he could use a friend, too.”
She continued, “Every week, I take Marcus on a care ride and we just go on advnetures. He has just been such a kind person in my life, and sees me for what I want people to see me for. I think pushing Marcus to be social, has actually encouraged me to actually go out and be okay with who I am.”
Needless to say, we were thrilled when Maddie got a golden ticket thanks to her — as Katy Perry put it — impressive “set of pipes.” We can’t wait to follow along with Maddie throughout this season of American Idol!