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Local sixteen-year-old singer Ryleigh Madison advances in American Idol competition

From Whiteville, to Nashville. Sixteen-year-old Ryleigh Madison Bunch, a student at South Columbus High School, took her talents to the big stage recently.
Published: Mar. 12, 2022 at 6:42 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2022 at 11:37 AM EDT
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WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - From Whiteville, to Nashville. Sixteen-year-old Ryleigh Madison Bunch, a student at South Columbus High School, advanced in the competition following her American Idol audition.

“I decided to audition for American Idol because I’ve watched it ever since I was a little girl,” Ryleigh Madison said.

Last year, she submitted a virtual audition to the national singing competition, and to her surprise, she got a call back.

“I just hopped on the online audition, and they were like ‘you’re going to the judges!’,” she said. “I was just so surprised, shocked, and excited.”

Ryleigh auditioned in Nashville, Tennessee, just days after her 16th birthday last November. She and her mom packed their bags, and off they headed to showcase her talent.

“I wasn’t nervous at all until that moment when they opened the door,” Ryleigh said. “I had to walk out and I started getting butterflies and nervous feelings.”

Taking her talents from Columbus County to Music City. She decided to sing ‘The Good Ones’ by Gabby Barrett, a song she says is one of her favorites.

As she auditioned for the show, she stood in front of celebrity judges Luke Bryan,. Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie.

“It was so surreal seeing all the judges there, just looking at me,” she says. “Luckily, they were super nice and making conversation.”

Ryleigh says she has been singing since she was 3 years old, so when she was given the opportunity to take her small town dreams to the next level, she jumped at it.

“Living here locally, it’s the most rewarding thing,” said Ryleigh. “I wouldn’t want to grow up anywhere else. Don’t let it hold you back. There’s so many things we can take from where we’re from, and lessons we learn and go on somewhere and make good things.”

Ryleigh’s audition aired on Sunday night, and she says there’s a lot to look forward to.

“You won’t be disappointed,” she said with a smile.

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