From American Idol Contestant to Basketball Star: The Inspiring Journey of a WPU Student

September 13, 2023
Brittany Blackburn

Meet Brittany Blackburn, a proud North Carolinian, and a William Peace University (WPU) student majoring in Biology. She brings a unique blend of talents, from basketball to music, and her journey is nothing short of inspiring. One of her favorite things about being at WPU is the sense of community in Raleigh: “Every time you walk around, everybody knows everybody.”

Brittany hails from a family of law enforcement and was a registered EMT back in her hometown. Her passion for the medical field continues to drive her. She’s also drawn to the adrenaline rush, which she finds in both basketball and performing. Brittany has been playing basketball for nine years and came to WPU with the intention of continuing her athletic journey.

At the age of 12, Brittany received her first guitar, but it wasn’t until she was 15 that she discovered her singing and songwriting abilities. Tragically, her motivation to pursue music came after her best friend’s passing in 2019, a friend who had taught her to play guitar. 

Brittany felt compelled to honor her friend’s memory saying,  “I kind of felt like I had to live up to that.” With a natural talent for writing, Brittany ventured into songwriting: “It was easy for me to put words together.” Music serves as a tool for self-reflection, giving her the confidence to face each day: “Writing music definitely gives me the confidence to get out of bed.”

In 2023, Brittany took a significant step in her music career by auditioning for American Idol. She made it through the first round of virtual auditions but decided not to continue when they requested a different musical style. Her integrity remained intact: “I’m just not a believer in doing something that goes against who I am.”

Brittany’s music journey began with performances in her hometown of Clinton at the age of 17. Brittany has been fortunate to receive support from her hometown community, making performing less nerve-wracking: “I had so many people from my hometown stand behind me.” 

Now in Raleigh, she hopes to find more opportunities to showcase her talent: “Raleigh is a big city with a lot more opportunities.” Brittany’s friends at WPU have been a pillar of support, helping her heal from her past. Music has been her refuge, helping her cope with life’s challenges. She finds solace in the hammocks on campus, where she spends time writing and reflecting.

While at WPU, she’s particularly excited about contributing to the women’s basketball team’s success and raising the university’s sports profile: “I feel like WPU is so underrated in their sports.” The basketball team at WPU operates like a close-knit family, benefiting from the small school dynamic. Brittany emphasizes their strong communication and support for each other: “It’s a lot like a family. It’s very, very comforting to be that close to a team.”

Brittany advises new students to step out of their comfort zones, make connections, and explore their interests. She finds WPU’s small school charm in a big city setting the perfect place to call home: “Being at a small school in a big city gives me a place to feel at home while still having a lot of opportunities.”