Sophomore Lands Top Six of Island Idol


Mackenzie Long (10) sings “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris at the weekly Open Mic in room 191. Long placed in the top 6 for Island Idol’s Silver Ticket Competition, where the winner gets one step closer to auditioning for American Idol. “I think what is unique about the way I sing my music is how I change it up and make it my own,” she said. Photo by Elaina Bolanos

Elaina Bolanos, Editor

Singers, ages 15 to 28, from all over the island, vied for the chance to sing in front of the American Idol audience and its panel of judges. Hoping to perform at the national level, they needed to make it through the state Island Idol. Votes were cast for hundreds of submissions and Radford’s Mackenzie Long (10) made it to the top 6.

Long says she has been singing for “as long as I can remember.” With a love of singing Disney songs, Long would “sing and dance like a princess. I love Ariel and Hannah Montana.”

Although she has never written a song, Long likes to add her own style to the music she sings.

“I make them into my own thing and change them up so they’re more my style,” she said. “My style is Indie pop kind of, kind of old and poppy.”

Long compares her style to American pop singer Billie Eilish.

“I like her style of music and the way she writes. She sings with a lot of emotion,” she said.

Armed with a piano and ukulele, Long strives to add the guitar to her arsenal of instruments to accompany her singing.

“I’d like to start getting into guitar but right now I’m trying to get piano on lockdown,” Long said.

For someone who placed in the top 6 of Island Idol her first year trying out, Long was understandably nervous, while also excited.

“The fact that I scrapped together a video and got selected means the world to me,” Long said.

To her surprise, people started voting for her.

“People are so supportive, I didn’t think I’d have a lot of people voting for me. Then I found out a couple days later because I was on the news,” she said.

The start of the journey to Long’s placing in the top 6 was sparked by luck.

“My mom heard about it on the radio,” she said. “That’s how I found out about it and then I submitted a video.”

To become a contestant, singers had to submit a video of them singing for people to vote on. This would be a key part of getting votes, so singers had to choose their videos wisely.

“I had so many videos on my phone, of me just practicing and I didn’t like any of them,” she said. “Then my mom went through my phone and submitted one.”

Although Long didn’t get selected for the Island Idol Silver Ticket contest, she appreciates the opportunity.

“I think that I’m still young so even if I audition and don’t make it, I would just be happy to have the advice from the judges. Having them guide me in a direction in music, I would love that,” she said.

With a love for music, Long wants “to be able to show people that I have an appreciation for the music that a lot of people just don’t really have. I go to music for everything.”