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Maddy Hudson: From the Central Valley to the world stage

Maddy Hudson is a powerhouse. Her soulful vocals alone sets her apart from performers twice her age, but her contagious smile and sheer presence have made her the epitome of a rising star.

You may have seen her performing on local stages, or on FOX’s "American Idol," but this is only the beginning for Hudson. The 17 year-old who spent some of her childhood in the Central Valley, continues to impress worldwide audiences with her dynamic personality and talent.

Hudson began performing in the region where she says she discovered her love of music.

“The Central Valley definitely holds a special place in my heart and it's crazy for me to think about it, but that's really where it all began for me in regards to my music,” she said.

Although originally from Pleasanton, Hudson spent time in Stockton, Manteca and Ripon where she performed at local events.

“The first time I truly performed was when I was a part of 'Manteca Idol' at age 12. It was this that inspired me to take guitar lessons at GK Music, which then led to perform at places like the Barkin' Dog Grill [in] Modesto and the Manteca Block Party,” Hudson said. “Living in the Central Valley truly nurtured [my talent] and allowed me to find who I was and what I wanted to bring to music.”

When most six year-olds are just beginning to learn about the world, Hudson already knew what her place in it would be. It all began when she was cast in the lead role in her school play, "Three Nanny Goats Gruff." She surprised even her mother with her powerful voice.

“After my performance people came up to me and asked me where I had learned to sing like that, but in all honesty I was just out there having fun. I didn't realize that I was doing anything special,” she said. “I absolutely loved singing, but hearing the applause and positive reinforcement solidified not only my love for singing and performing, but the fact that I would only ever choose that career path.”

Hudson launched her singing and songwriting career by performing locally, learning the guitar, and in 2014, earning a spot on "American Idol" for Season 14. With her distinctive sound and range that channels Christina Aguilera, Adele and Norah Jones, it is no wonder judge Jennifer Lopez declared that Hudson could take the title. Though her time on the show ended in mid-February, the experience has been invaluable.

“The exposure from Idol allowed me to reach further than before in the sense that more people know me and are willing to listen to my music, but also that I'm passionate about anti-bullying and self acceptance,” said Hudson.

In addition to being an anti-bullying advocate and performing both locally and abroad, Hudson works with Canada’s “Leading The Change Music Project for Kids” through the Horses Help Kids program, a youth based global initiative that supports humanity and the betterment of young lives. Hudson also co-wrote and recorded the song “Stepping Into Your Life” to be debuted at this year's United Nations' World Mental Health Day, which is recognized in over 100 countries.

Through her music and advocacy, Hudson has become a role model for aspiring artists in the 209 and well beyond.

For a list of performances or to follow Hudson, @MaddyHudsonInstagram @TheMaddyHudson