From top 10 finalists to slew of musical hopefuls, New Jersey singers are no strangers to “American Idol” — and another recently joined the ranks of Garden State’s celebrity seekers.

Camryn Champion, 16, from Lumberton, started living up to her family name when she won a Golden Ticket to Hollywood at the show’s 20th season premiere on February 27.

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The whole experience has been surreal, she says, even though it’s just getting started.

“It’s super cool because that’s (singing) what I want to do with my life,” she said. “So it’s good to get off to a good start.”

Rancocas Valley Regional High School student Camryn Champion, 16, and Principal Joseph Martin present the

The Rancocas Valley Regional High School junior has been singing for as long as she can remember – maybe even longer.

“Camryn slept in the car and woke up singing the songs on the radio,” according to her website.

As a military daughter, she lived on both coasts of the United States, as well as in Okinawa, Japan. Getting around a lot gave her plenty of opportunities to perform, like when, at age 9, she sang the national anthem at a monster truck show in California.

“It was just cool to be able to do that for the crowd,” she recalled. “It was in a stadium. There were around 2,500 people and it was the first time I sang in a large group of people.

Living in many places has also helped Camryn gain confidence when meeting new people and dealing with new environments, she said.

“Wherever I moved I always found something I could do with music, which is cool,” she said. “It’s always different, but it definitely shaped who I am.”

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In 2018, at age 13, she beat 200 other artists and won the Brooklyn edition of “Coast 2 Coast Live”, another singing competition. Winning “Coast 2 Coast” put her on the radar of “American Idol” talent scouts. who asked him to audition in Nashville for this year’s season.

No matter when or where she performs, however, her mother is always there to cheer her on.

“She was always my number one supporter,” Camryn said. “She is very enthusiastic and supportive. It doesn’t feel forced; she wants me to enjoy what I do.

But, in artist terms, Camryn and her mother are “obsessed” with Adele.

“I really admire him and idolize him,” she said. “I think it’s more special because my mom and I both enjoy it, so it’s something we do together.”

Camryn Champion, 16, of Lumberton, poses with the

Her connection to “American Idol” is also tied to her family. Growing up, her grandmother, a devoted “Idol” fan, lovingly nagged her to try out for the show.

“When you’re old enough, I want to see you audition,” she would say, according to Camryn.

She said yes, of course – can you really say no to your grandmother? — but she never thought she’d get the chance to audition, she said.

“My grandma freaked out when she heard I was going to audition,” Camryn said. When she found out that Camryn was advancing to the next round, she was overwhelmed with joy again.

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Besides her family, Camryn enjoys the support of her teachers and volleyball coaches.

“I love coming to school because my teachers are really an important part of my life,” she said. “Even outside of music, I feel like I can go to them for anything.”

One of her former English teachers, Steven Burns, commented on a YouTube clip of Camryn’s ‘Idol’ audition, saying he was “so thrilled to see her take on this challenge and embark on this journey.” .

“I remember her telling me how much she loved to sing in her journal entries – and here she is today,” he wrote. “She was always a champion!”

As for his coaches, they are some of his “favorite people in the world, and they just made me fall in love with being on a team.”

It’s reassuring to know that so many people want her to succeed, Camryn said. All of the comments she’s received have been “super genuine” and there’s been no “bad energy” so far, even from people she doesn’t know.

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During her audition, Camryn performed Sam Smith’s 2014 hit “I’m Not the Only One” to praise and constructive criticism from judges Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. They encouraged her to dig deep, relax, and stop being afraid to lean into the song.

“I don’t think ‘American Idol’ would be ‘American Idol’ if everyone was perfectly ready to sing along,” Bryan said in a clip from the show.

AMERICAN IDOL - ABC's American Idol stars Ryan Seacrest, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan.  (ABC/Gavin Bond)

Camryn didn’t expect to speak to the judges as much as she did. Even when the cameras weren’t rolling, she had to have “regular conversations” with them.

“I started writing (music) when I was 11 or 12, so I got to talk to them a bit about it too,” she said.

Off-camera, Luke told her not to be afraid to step forward if music is what she wants to pursue. She said it was cool to get advice from someone who’s already been successful in the music industry and knows what he’s talking about.

While grateful for the success she’s already had, Camryn said she hopes to one day reach as wide an audience as possible.

“I think my biggest dream is to perform one of the songs I wrote in a big stadium and have the audience say the words like they know all the words for themselves,” he said. she declared. “I just think that would be so cool.”

That’s how she’ll know she’s “really made it.”

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Goes: “American Idol” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. Visit abc.com/shows/american-idol

Aedy Miller covers education and the economy for the Burlington County Times, Courier-Post and The Daily Journal. He is a multimedia journalist from central Jersey and a recent graduate of George Washington University.

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