By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.- The road to stardom may have veered through a local thrift store for a township girl.
Genavieve Linkowski, 19, will appear on ABC’s “American Idol” reboot before the judging panel comprised of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. However, her “Idol” journey won’t be revealed until the episode premieres at 8 p.m., March 19. Linkowski’s trek to realize her musical dreams has been anything but smooth.
“I grew up playing the piano and violin,” said Linkowski, the homeschooled oldest of 10 children. “I later picked up the harp. My life was based around classical music and I even did opera at one point.”
At 14-years-old Lindowski recalls attending the Disney movie “Frozen” with her grandfather.
“I fell in love with the song “Let it Go” from “Frozen” like so many other kids did,” she said. “So one day I put on the karaoke machine and sung it just like Idina Menzel did. I was so happy from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
For the next few years she practiced, knowing she was not ready to move forward with her musical career.
Then in 2016 Linkowski emailed video clips to “The Voice” of herself singing “Listen” by Beyonce and “All I Ask” by Adele.
The effort was not successful.
“I just wanted to be on “The Voice” so bad,” she said.
In January 2017 she finally landed an audition for “The Voice” and auditioned at Chicago’s Navy Pier where after a four or five hour wait performed “Surrender” by Celine Dion with about 10 other contestants. “I made one bad mistake and then they said, ‘Thanks for coming, no call backs in this group.’ I was just bummed.”
She did not give up and in June 2017 signed up for “The Voice” audition in Philadelphia.
“About a month before the audition, I was getting ready to attend a wedding with my mom, so to save money we shopped at area thrift stores to look for a dress,” she said. “As we are heading north to Burton and mom said to me, ‘I feel God is telling us to go into that thrift store.’ I said, Mom, really? They have nothing there for us but I’ll go in anyway.”
Inside the store was a man playing a piano and singing.
“He was really good,” she said. “So when he was done playing I went over and started playing “Better Man,” by Little Big Man on the piano. I was singing really soft and the piano was overpowering my voice. When I got done playing I looked up and people in the store were standing around listening to me. They said, ‘sing louder.’ I had a sore throat and it was morning—a bad combination for me. Anyway, I thought if I’m going to do this for living and for “The Voice” I have to do this on the spot.”
A video of Linkowski’s performance at the Volunteers of America Thrift Store in Burton just happened to be recorded and posted on the internet.
“We left the store,” she said. “About that time I was feeling really bad about my career choice. I kept thinking I’m not a good singer, I let my family down, I threw my life away. Still in the midst of this I felt God saying to me I put you on earth to sing. Just sing and trust me.”
A few weeks later she received a call from a friend.
“He said, ‘you’re famous,’” she said. “I’m like what? Your song in the thrift store has gone viral—3 million views he told me. I’m now thinking oh that’s cool. It was a total slap in the face from God. I thought—see this is what I am calling you to do. Thanks for the reminder God.”
Linkowski auditioned in Philadelphia for “The Voice” and sang “Better Man” by Little Big Town and “If I Die Young,” by the Band Perry. “They liked it so I got a call back. But the next day they stopped my half way through “You Lie” by Band Perry. I was bummed but it was a good experience.”
Then in July Linkowski received a call from a girl that was casting for American Idol.
“I ignored her first call,” she said. “This is just not legitimate. Finally the casting girl she called back about a week later and said I really want to talk to you about ‘American Idol.’”
With her family nearby Linkowski finally called her back.
“She had found me through the thrift store video,” she said. “Since I was not in an area where ‘American Idol’ auditions are being held, I could Skype it to her. I kept thinking the internet was going to stop working half way through the audition.”
The Skype audition lead to “American Idol” in Dallas on Aug. 31 at the Omni Hotel.
“It really went well,” she said. “I felt really comfortable. So we went home after that. About two weeks later our family was on our yearly vacation in Mertle Beach in September when I got the call from “American Idol” and I missed it. So I got right back to her and they said, Hey you’re on the celebrity judging round.”
So, Linkowski and family, 14 in all, traveled to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn., where she sang “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz.
“That’s all I can say right now,” she laughed. “Everyone will just have to watch on Monday night and see what happens.”