Timbers anthem singer veteran Madison Shanley featured on American Idol
Timbers fans might recall the effortlessly soulful sound of local teenager Madison Shanley from several matches during the 2011 Major League Soccer season.
Madison, a 17-year-old Wilson High School senior, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” four times in front of the JELD-WEN Field faithful last year--three for Timbers matches and one for the U.S. Womens' match--before recently testing out her vocal chords for, arguably, the most popular reality talent competition on television, American Idol.
A Timbers’ fan through and through, she made her first appearance singing at JELD-WEN Field in 2008 for a Portland Beavers minor league baseball game. Since that time, she has shared her voice with the crowd at least once every year.
“A lot has happened because of singing for the Timbers, I definitely don’t mind saying that’s where it started,” Madison said.
The singer, whose voice carries a cadence and maturity well beyond her years, advanced through American Idol’s Portland auditions last summer and received her golden ticket to Hollywood for the chance to make it to the show’s deeper rounds.
“I think that I’ve gained a lot of confidence this year because I’ve had a lot more opportunities,” Madison said of trying out for American Idol. “I’ve gained a lot more maturity, a lot more life experience and musical experience and so I had the confidence this year to tryout. They were in Portland and that was definitely a plus. I heard they were coming to town and I said, ‘I’m ready, I’ve been watching this since I was tiny, so let’s do it.’”
Madison had her parents’ support to lean on in Hollywood, where she was unfortunately eliminated from the show (which was broadcast earlier this week), but still managed to make it to the final 98 contestants.
“I don’t tend to be a very nervous person. That was kind of the first time I felt ridiculously nervous,” Madison said of the auditions. “I doubted myself for the first time. I was thinking about remembering my words, putting on a good performance and I was asking myself all these questions. I was surprised by it.”
“I know I get much more nervous for her than she does for herself in every circumstance that she’s out in front of a crowd,” said Della Rae Shanley, Madison’s mother. “If it weren’t for her confidence, I’d be more of a nervous wreck.”
While Madison wasn’t showcased on television, she did get some positive marks for flair — having her father Terry and uncle Greg accompany her on stage for auditions in Portland wearing black sunglasses and black T-Shirts that read, “Don’t Touch The Talent.”
“It was really kind of a last-minute idea, but the producers loved it,” Della Rae said. “We were surprised that they didn’t show any of it on Idol because they shot a lot of footage of Madison, Terry and Greg. They actually invited Terry and Greg into the audition with the producers and then again with the audition with Randy (Jackson), Jennifer (Lopez) and Steven (Tyler).”
Through the Timbers, Madison was offered the chance to sing the National Anthem of both the United States and Canada when the U.S. Women’s National Team played Canada at JELD-WEN Field on Sept. 22.
And it was because of that performance that Madison was introduced to photographer Michael Stahlschmidt, a University of Portland grad, who helped connect her with NASCAR Entertainment and the 50th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona (formerly known as 24 Hours of Daytona), where she sang the National Anthem in late January.
Adding another stepping stone to Madison’s path, she was approached in Daytona by Mitch Clark, owner of CenterStaging, Inc., a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in production and technical support for television and live performances. It was in Florida that Clark invited Madison to come to southern California to attend a pre-Grammy Awards party earlier in February.
It wasn’t until a week before the party that she was asked to perform a 15-minute set, kicked off with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” of course. Madison, along with friend and fellow musician Ian James, opened the party with a set that included a unique cover of “Come Together” by The Beatles.
Back in Portland, Shanley has adjusted her singing to accomodate a unique partner in the vocal Timbers Army.
“I was terrified,” she said at first hearing that the TA sings along at many matches. “They didn’t let me know until I was on the field and ready to sing. It added a really cool effect, they really didn’t drown me out, they kind of just supported me. It was more respectful instead of (them) trying to outshine me. We do a little duet, I don’t mind.”
Planning on further tryouts for American Idol, Madison hopes to make it far enough to perform on the show in front of her hometown fans — at JELD-WEN Field.
“They have a homecoming thing (on the show) when the contestants sing for their hometown,” Madison said. “I’ve always dreamt about coming back to JELD-WEN and just singing there and having people there to hear me.”
“It’s really important that I stay grounded in the midst of all this fuss,” said Madison, who is looking to add songwriting to her skills in the future. “... It’s the beginning and I can’t let myself get too headstrong because you’re never at the top and there are always people above you. As long as I work my hardest and I want to be successful as badly as I want to breathe, that’s how I’ll attain it.”
Before she hits it big, Timbers fan can still catch Madison this season at JELD-WEN Field.
Oh, and by the way, the Timbers went undefeated in 2011 with Madison performing the National Anthem.