‘American Idol’s Catie Turner Taught Us Not To Judge a Book By Its Cover

Justin Jenkins
Jack Tomas
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Catie Turner was a shy 17 year old when she competed on Season 16 of American Idol. The revamp season set out to find talent like viewers have never seen. Catie was an unconventional choice, but her quirkiness did not take away from her talent.


Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan were constantly confused as to if the aspiring singer had what it took to become the next Idol champion. Viewers found it hard to read Catie as she took the audience on many unexpected twists with her song choices. In the end, the singer left a lasting impression.

It is always interesting when singers tell the story where they began singing at two years old. For Catie, music did not come to her until later in life. The young singer wanted to pick up a hobby after realizing she wasn’t good at much. The singer taught herself how to play the guitar and realized that she was good at songwriting as well.

Catie Before ‘American Idol’

The singer was still in high school when she competed on American Idol. Before competing on the hit show, Catie released her EP Teen Angst. The Idol alum wrote from experiences she faced as she matured into a young adult. Like many independent singers Catie needed a major platform to help launch her career.


The singer was no stranger to the singing competition world. Catie began auditioning for talent shows when she was 11 years old, starting with America’s Got Talent. She then auditioned for The Voice twice and auditioned unsuccessfully for Season 15 of American Idol. After trying again in 2017, Catie received a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Catie on ‘American Idol’

Never has there been a contestant like Catie on Idol. After 20 seasons, the singer is in a lane all on her own. From the moment she walked into her audition in New York City Catie stood out. Her personality instantly showed as she had quick banter with the three judges. The singer shocked viewers when she showed us we should not judge her quirkiness as someone that did not have any talent.

Catie was the first televised contestant on the revamped season of Idol. She auditioned with an original song she wrote, 21st Century Machine.” The song expressed how social media affected the young singer. The judges called her brilliant and sent her to Hollywood week with three yeses. The singer easily made it through to the Top 24 after her solo showcase of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” pushed her to become the frontrunner during Season 16.


Perry was impressed every night that Catie performed, citing that the singer was adapting and becoming a star right before viewers eyes. Catie effortlessly went through the competition by singing her renditions of “Call Me” by Blondie, “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, and “Oops!… I Did It Again” by Britney Spears.

Unfortunately the singer was eliminated in the Top 7.

Love at First Sight

Catie said she was having the time of her life while she competed in the singing competition. She was unapologetically herself. Even Richie had to admit that by Catie being herself, she made viewers as well as the judges believers in what she could become without changing.

The singer’s Idol experience also led her to find love with fellow Season 16 contestant Zach D’Onofrio. The two began dating shortly after their season. Zach returned to American Idol Season 19 in hopes of making it further into the competition. The singer brought Catie to his audition, which was a great surprise to the judges.

Catie and Zach’s love story didn’t las and the two broke up in 2021.

Life After ‘Idol’

When Mariah Carey judged American Idol she told a contestant that she will always have a career because she was a great songwriter. This advice is also true for Catie. Since her time on American Idol the singer has released countless singles and EP’s. She also continues to perform at sold out live shows. In 2020 the singer signed with Atlantic Records over a Zoom call.

She made her Atlantic Records debut by releasing the single “One Day” in November of the same year. In 2021, Catie released her second EP, Heartbroken and Milking It, with six songs written during the COVID-19 pandemic. The singer’s most recent release, “God Must Hate Me” went viral on TikTok on 2021.

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