Munhall teen Gabby Barrett could be the next 'American Idol'
The secret is out.
Pittsburgh's own rising singing sensation Gabby Barrett, 18, of Munhall is a contestant on "American Idol" this season, which debuts Sunday.
A giant billboard along Route 28 near Etna features an "American Idol" promo of Barrett.
Her Facebook profile, Gabby Barrett, officially posted the news last month. And Barrett is featured in one of the promo videos for "American Idol."
Catch her at 25 seconds, in a classroom holding an "American Idol" card.
Barrett had to keep the news under wraps for weeks, as she traveled for rounds of auditions, tapings and more. "American Idol" confirmed Barrett is a contestant but declined to say when she will first appear on the show.
Her father and general manager, Blase Barrett, accompanied her for the show tapings.
"Most of the time it was just me and her," Blase Barrett says. "But we were able to finish the last two weeks with her brother and sister supporting her. That helped a lot so she wasn't homesick."
One of eight children, Gabby Barrett embraced music from an early age, singing in church choirs, sporting venues, concerts, festivals and has opened for music stars Keith Urban, Daya and Toby Keith.
Barrett has performed more than 100 concerts. Her latest album, "16," was recorded in Nashville and is available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.
A 2016 Journeys Shoes' national ad campaign featured Gabby's co-written song, "Young Blood."
Barrett says she endured bullying at her high school, Serra Catholic in McKeesport, as she pursued her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter. She left high school, enrolling in cyber school, a more accommodating curriculum option for her busy performance schedule.
In 2017, she organized a "Dreams Really Do Come True" assemblies tour, visiting area Pittsburgh schools with an anti-bullying message and musical performances.
She visited Leechburg Area High School last spring, and longtime fan Haylee Aller was part of the student audience. Aller, 12, is "so excited" that her local Pittsburgh idol will be on the show and plans to watch and vote "a lot," says mom Melissa Aller of Leechburg.
"We attended Gabby's 18th surprise birthday party in Pittsburgh (on March 5) and Haylee is so excited and kept taking pictures with Gabby," Aller says. "We initially saw Gabby perform at Seven Springs in 2014 and since then we have followed her career. We always thought she would make it big and Haylee always looks up to her,"
A country music fan, Barrett blends her soulful voice with a combination of R&B and country during her performances.
Her father has been there every step of the way and recalls when Smokey Robinson complimented Gabby's performance after a singing competition win in 2014.
"He personally told her she had everything it takes to be a superstar," Blase Barrett says. "Nashville recording execs call her a 'Country Adele.' "
Living out her dream on national television is about to happen, and Barrett is hoping for some Steel City support in the form of "American Idol" online votes from fans.
"I would like to truly thank Pittsburgh for all of the amazing support through the years," Barrett says. "Steelers, Pirates, all over. I'm totally blown away."
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The 17-year-old singer from Irwin posted in February on Facebook that she had auditioned for "American Idol."
"I can't tell you the outcome!" the post read. "You will have to tune in March 11th at 8PM on ABC to follow my journey!!
Her Facebook biography says she has performed acoustic sets with her dad at bars, restaurants, banquet halls, weddings, charities and festivals, as well as singing the national anthem for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Riverhounds, Pittsburgh Passion and Washington Wild Things.