Mercerian advances to Hollywood in ‘American Idol’ auditions


A Mercerian is going to Hollywood.

Former Miss America Betty Maxwell, who was known as Betty Cantrell when she was a student at Mercer University, won unanimous support from “American Idol” judges to advance to the next round in the music competition.

In a nod to two “American Idol” alumni, Maxwell sang Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” and Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel” during her audition, which aired March 6 on ABC.

“Pageant girls sing like pageant girls. You don’t sing like a pageant girl. You sing like a real singer,” superstar judge Luke Bryan told Maxwell before he and fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie told Maxwell that she was advancing to the next round of auditions in Hollywood.

Maxwell, a Warner Robins native, was crowned Miss Georgia 2015 and Miss America 2016. She was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in voice in Mercer’s Townsend School of Music before putting her studies on hold to focus on the Miss Georgia and Miss America pageants.


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Jennifer Falk is the director of digital communications at Mercer University and editor-in-chief of The Den. She creates and supervises the development of written and multimedia content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters, including The Den and This Week @ Mercer. In addition, she collaborates with schools and offices to maintain web content and examines data and analytics to drive content creation decisions. She also serves as a member of the University's social media committee.