Though both Madison VanDenburg and Moriah Formica have been on national television, the stage they’re about to take is the biggest they’ll have performed on.
“It’s incredible. I cannot even believe how it happened,” VanDenburg said of Friday’s show at the Times Union Center.
It comes a little over a month after she took third place in “American Idol” and two years since Formica competed on “The Voice.”
For the latter, the show has been in the works since 2017. Formica said she was in talks with the TU Center shortly after leaving “The Voice” about performing there, but, with the size of the venue, they needed another band to really set things in motion.
“We were just waiting for something. Maddy had just gotten off of ‘American Idol’ and they were like “you guys have played shows together before. You guys are best friends,” Formica said.
Both attended North Colonie Central School District and became family friends well before they both began performing.
“[Madison] and my younger brother Gabe have been best friends since second grade and then her older sister and I have been best friends since fourth grade. So we all just grew up together,” Moriah said.
Their performing careers started earlier than most. For Formica, it was in elementary school.
“Honestly, I’ve been set on my career since elementary school. I don’t want to do anything else,” Formica said.
VanDenburg also started singing from a young age, gigging around the area. They’ve both been taking lessons for several years at Modern Day Music in Clifton Park with vocal coach Lesley O’Donnell. She has helped them both to build off of their talents, VanDenburg with her dulcet tones and Formica with her hard rock vocals.
It led them both to compete at a national level, where VanDenburg and Formica said they were given chances to grow.
“Because we were singing every single day, your voice improves a lot. You find who you are an artist really quickly, if you didn’t know before coming in. You’re constantly asked ‘Who are your inspirations? Who do you see yourself being?’ It really just helps to narrow it down and [helps] you figure out who the heck you are as an artist,” VanDenburg said.
For Formica, it showed her who she didn’t want to be as an artist.
“I’m a rocker. People have always known me as a rocker, it comes across in the way I talk. It comes across in the way I dress, it comes across in my music. I’m very aggressive when I play guitar. It’s obvious. But there was a period after I got off 'The Voice' where I thought “I [should] go mainstream because they don’t support rockers,” Formica said.
But after a few months of writing and recording pop songs, she knew it wasn’t right.
"There was just an identity crisis and a confusion with fans [but] that did help me to find my sound. Since I learned how to write pop music, I can infuse all those pop melodies with rock and find a new sound,” Formica said.
It’s something she’s been working on over the last few months with a little help from some Grammy-nominated artists like Chris Daughtry, Halestorm, Shinedown and Skillet.
Next month, she’ll have a new single coming out called “I Don’t Care What You Think,” which she recorded in Los Angeles, though she still records some of her songs at Modern Day Music. She graduated from high school last year, going on to perform with rockers like Joan Jett shortly after, and still heads to the school to practice. She doesn’t plan to attend college and will continue her music career full-time.
“It’s so dangerous for kids to be taught ‘you’re not going to be anything or go anywhere if you don’t go to college and get a degree,’” Formica said. She went on to say that places like Modern Day Music are so important because they show kids the way forward to making a path in the music industry.
One that she and VanDenburg are heading down.
VanDenburg, who is 17 and is finishing up her junior year at Shaker High School, will be forgoing the usual senior year route and finishing her high school degree online. While it will make her schedule more flexible, as VanDenburg puts it, “it’s still school,” and it will be difficult to take the next step in her career while finishing high school and finding time to simply relax for a minute.
“Trying to balance high school and music and it’s also really hard to write songs all the time, especially when you’re busy. So that’ll be a challenge,” VanDenburg said, “For me, it’s hard to chill out because I feel like I’m not doing enough.”
Over the course of the summer, she’s planning to release at least one song and she’s organizing a west coast tour.
Next on her list though, is playing the TU Center, which she’s excited to perform alongside Formica. The two have performed together several times around the Capital Region, including at Cohoes Music Hall.
“It’s nice that I have Moriah there who I can talk to if I need help. She understands the stress of it all,” VanDenburg said.
She plans to perform three new songs, as well as several songs from the show.
“I’ll be doing a lot of songs from the show and three originals. It’s just going to be a fun night,” VanDenburg said.
Formica will be performing a mix of new songs as well, and there’s potential for some collaboration on stage.
“She’s got a very beautiful, pretty voice, whereas I can be rather aggressive sometimes. Our voices really complement each other,” Formica said.
Delaney Silvernell, a Queensbury native and 2018 “Voice” contestant, will open the show.
Tickets for the show are $25-55, but free for any elementary student in the North Colonie School District.
“Maddy and I went to North Colonie School District and we just remember how helpful the music program was to us to help us realize our dream. These teachers were incredibly encouraging. We just want to give back to them so we’re giving free tickets to North Colonie students k-6. All they have to do is bring their student ID or report card to the box office at the TU Center,” Formica said.
Madison VanDenburg & Moriah Formica
WITH: Delaney Silvernell
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Fri.
WHERE: Times Union Center
MORE INFO: timesunioncenter-albany.com