Former Miss America Betty Maxwell Crowned Miss ‘American Idol,’ Sings Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Former Miss America Betty Maxwell wowed judges during the season 20 American Idol auditions, covering AI alums Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and was even crowned “Miss” American Idol by judge Katy Perry and advanced to Hollywood Week.

The Georgia native, whose maiden name is Cantrell, previously won Miss Georgia in 2015 before being crowned Miss America in 2016, singing her way through the latter competition with classical opera.

Her Miss America crown in tow, Maxwell admitted to judges Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan that her dream was to voice a Disney princess before performing. “My biggest dream would be to be the voice of a Disney princess,” said Maxwell, before doing various impressions of Disney characters like Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Asking Maxwell if she could wear her crown, the contestant told Perry that she wasn’t allowed to let anyone wear it. “The real question is,” said Perry, “will you be Miss ‘American Idol’?”

The first contestant to get the Golden Ticket to Hollywood Week during the Nashville audition episode of American Idol on March 6, started her audition by performing Clarkson’s first single “A Moment Like This.” Following her performance, Perry asked, “Do you sing country?” Maxwell responded “I can sing country,” and sang Carrie Underwood’s 2005 hit “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

“Pageant girls sing like pageants girls,” said Bryan following Maxwell’s performance. “You don’t sing like a pageant girl. You sing like a real singer.” Perry added, “There’s a lot to work with.”

Richie, who was impressed by Maxwell’s audition offered the singer some advice: “For the first time, we have to take you down. And the next thing, I’m trying to get out of your head is, ‘I sing everything.’ I don’t want you to sing everything. I want you to have a style.”

Maxwell, who grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia, responded, “I want you to help me find that.”

Perry told Maxwell that she thinks she’s more of a country singer. “When I moved to Nashville, that was where my heart was,” said Maxwell of the genre. “I love country music.”  

Photo: Ida Mae Astute / ABC

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