TRACY, Calif. (KTVU) - It's season 14 on "American Idol," and this year there's a handful of finalists from the Bay Area.
Maddy Hudson from Pleasanton has gotten the golden ticket to Hollywood and will be seen performing on the show that airs Thursday night.
On Wednesday night, KTVU met with Hudson at her home and later joined her as she met with fans at a meet and greet party at Grant's Bar and Lounge in Tracy.
Hudson says she loves meeting fans, "For me everybody is like a new friend. I get really excited. It's so awesome to meet such supportive people."
Upbeat and outgoing, the 17 year old won the hearts of those who came to the party to meet their favorite idol.
"She's so nice. I was like oh my gosh. I was freaking out. She was really friendly," said Brenna Campbell who's 12 years old and aspires to compete on American Idol someday.
"I love Maddy since I saw her audition. I've been a big fan of hers," said McKenna Brown, a 13 year old.
Behind Maddy's smile is strength she says she's developed after experiencing
difficult times in school. She says she didn't fit in.
"I was bullied to the extremes, everything from death threats to hate phone calls to awful messages," said Maddy.
But the angst that came from coping with troubles with peers perhaps worked to her advantage. She turned to music.
"It's my support system. It's how I express myself. Music gives me love and I couldn't live without it."
Having watched "American Idol" since season one, Maddy says it was always a dream to audition for the show
That opportunity came last fall in San Francisco where she impressed all three judges and received the ticket to Hollywood.
The judges told Maddy she had the qualities to be a superstar.
"It was really incredible to have the opportunity to meet the judges, to really be myself," said Maddy.
A big soulful voice from a small frame: Maddy stands just a bit over five feet two.
But she tells KTVU she's learned to turn obstacles into advantages, "I've spent my whole life loving music and spent my life trying to do my own thing."
Maddy is now home schooled. She says she's grateful to her mother who raised her alone.
The teenager says "American Idol" gave her the platform to share her gift and help other teens.
"I feel really grateful and blessed for every moment that I've had," said Maddy.
In the midst of her quest to become the next "American Idol," Maddy Hudson plans to go to Pleasanton Middle School next week to talk to students about being bullied to let them know they are not alone.