Rising Young Pop Artist Haven Madison Talks About Her Debut EP Turn Off All The Lights, And Being An American Idol Finalist

Haven Madison
Haven Madison
(photo credit: Robby Klein)

At the age of 18, Haven Madison is already emerging as a talented, pop singer/songwriter. She co-wrote all the songs on her impressive debut EP, Turn Off All The Lights, which has just been released on 19 Recordings/BMG Nashville. This EP marks her first major project since she was a finalist last year on Season 21 of American Idol.

Three months ago, Madison released her first single, “Sky Up,” an excellent song that quickly displays her range as a singer and songwriter. The song starts off as an intimate piano ballad, then builds momentum with a soaring melody, a big chorus and a heartfelt lyric. She wrote this song with writer/producer Dave Pittenger, who is known for his work with GAYLE (the Top 10 hit “abcdefu”), Maneskin and Tenille Arts.

Madison also worked with Pittenger on the other four songs on her EP. The duo wrote “Sky Up” and three others including the uptempo, modern pop-rock song “Kiss The Ground,” the high energy cut “Monster,” and the softer, understated ballad “Claw Marks.” The final song on the EP is “How Do You Like Me Now,” a playful, spunky uptempo that Madison wrote with singer/songwriter Mary Kutter.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Haven Madison, who talks about her song “Sky,” and her songwriting process.


Madison grew up in the city of Clarkville, Tennessee, where she learned to play guitar and piano. Her father, Jason Roy, is the lead singer of the Christian rock band, Building 429. At age 12, Madison told her father that she wanted to follow in his footsteps and pursue a musical career.

Then four years later at age 16, Madison’s passion for singing and songwriting culminated in her remarkable Haven Madison American Idol audition, which propelled her into the Top 8 of Season 21. During her time on the show, Madison performed her own songs in front of judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. She notably sang a duet of her song “Still Need You” with Katy Perry on the show.

Here’s the video of Haven Madison’s song, “Sky Up.”

Although Madison was not selected the winner of American Idol, the show’s producers were very impressed with her performing and songwriting, so she was offered a label deal with 19 Recordings/BMG Nashville Records. After she signed, Madison began writing with pro songwriters in Nashville, which allowed her to further develop her songwriting skills.

Currently, with the release of her debut EP, Turn Off All The Lights, Madison is looking forward to taking the next steps in her music journey. Besides promoting her EP and filming videos, she is preparing to perform live shows and go on tour later this year.

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Haven Madison. She recalls her experiences on American Idol, and she discusses the making of her EP and her songwriting.

DK: You’re from Tennessee, and your father, Jason Roy, is in a band called Building 429. How did you get started with music?

Haven Madison: Music was always there with me. I lived on a tour bus with my dad for the first seven years of my life. So I grew up singing and loving it. Then when I got into middle school, I started writing some songs, and I found such a passion for it. So I feel like it was always in my nature.

DK: Do you play instruments, like guitar or piano?

Madison: I play guitar and piano, and I write songs on both.

DK: You were a finalist on American Idol. What was it like to audition for this show, and make it to the finals?

Madison: When I auditioned, it was on Zoom, and I absolutely had no expectation of making it through. Then I carried that mindset through the whole thing. Every single round, I thought it would be the round I’d be done. I never expected to get as far as I did.

Here’s the video of Haven Madison’s song, “Kiss The Ground.”

DK: Your auditions with American Idol were on Zoom?

Madison: Yes, for the first three rounds, which are usually held in big stadiums, got moved to Zoom because of Covid. I was on American Idol last year, wrapping up in May 2023.

DK: When you were performing on American Idol, did you mostly perform songs that you wrote?

Madison: I did. I sang a lot of my original songs, and they were super-supportive of that. I wanted to make my mark as a songwriter.

DK: On the American Idol show, you sang a duet with Katy Perry with a song you wrote called “Still Need You.” What was it like for you to sing with Katy Perry, with a song you wrote?

Madison: It was so surreal. She’s a huge inspiration for me, so to hear her sing my lyrics back to me was amazing. For Katy to respect my song enough to sing it with me, it’s still mind-boggling to me.

I sang “Still Need You” during the first round of Hollywood week (on Idol), and it made everybody cry and everybody loved it. So when I came back for the finale, Katy was like, “I wanna sing it with you.”

DK: You’ve signed a label deal with with 19 Recordings. Did they offer you a label deal after you had done well on American Idol?

Madison: Yes. After I wrapped up being on American Idol, 19 Recordings & BMG came together and were like, “We want to work with you,” and I was like, “Let’s do it.”

DK: After you signed your label deal, you started co-writing songs in Nashville for your EP. Since you grew up in Tennessee, were you already near Nashville?

Madison: Yes, I was born and raised in Clarksville which is 45 minutes north of Nashville. So I would drive in everyday and do what I gotta do.

Here’s the video of Haven Madison’s song, “Monster.”

DK: Did you write with many songwriters in Nashville?

Madison: I like to say it was like speed dating (laughs). I was in a room with new people almost every day.

DK: One of your collaborators is producer & songwriter Dave Pittenger, who had a hit with Gayle (“abcdefu”). What was it like working with Dave?

Madison: Oh my gosh, I loved Dave. Every song we did was a banger…we’ve got stacks of demos. It’s a good vibe—he’s an incredible writer and he’s got an amazing process. Four of the five songs on my EP are cuts with Dave, and we’re already working on more songs for the next project.

DK: I like your single, “Sky Up.” Can you talk about writing this song?

Madison: “Sky Up” was written with Dave, and we had this title, “Do you ever get tired of holding the sky up?” We both love titles that make you go…What the heck is that? And I think a title called “Sky Up” does that. So we just went for it. We made this really emotional, strong power ballad and I think it’s incredible. It’s an amazing, unconditional and irrevocable guilty love song. And I think it’s a sentiment that isn’t out there right now.

DK: When you come up with writing ideas, do you like to write titles or lyrics in your journal or put ideas in your phone? What’s your songwriting process?

Madison: When I come up with ideas, I usually write them in my notes app on my phone, and then I’ll record some melodies on my voice recording. Or I’ll take out the guitar or go to the piano and try to write it out while I have a moment. Or maybe I’ll get the idea while I’m driving to a session, and kind of chase it.

DK: You’re releasing your EP, called Turn Off All The Lights. Can you talk about the making this EP?

Here’s the audio for Haven Madison’s song, “Claw Marks.”

Madison: Absolutely. The making of this EP was incredible…it was a very creative process. The concept of Turn Off All The Lights, was once the American Idol lights were turned off, I stepped away from high school and I stepped out of all the pressures of being what everybody else wanted me to be. And this is the authentic music that came about. One of the songs I’ve already released is called “Monster.” Thematically, the EP goes all over the place. I think it’s such a strong body of work, that I’m excited for everybody to hear it from start to finish.

DK: Besides “Sky Up” and “Monster,” what are your favorite songs on your EP?

Madison: I think the other three songs are super strong, but I would say my guilty pleasure song is “Kiss The Ground.” It’s just a strong pop hit. It’s unique…it doesn’t have anything that you can really compare it to.

DK: With your EP coming out, what are your plans? Will you be playing live shows and going on tour?

Madison: That is the hope. I had a showcase in Nashville, and hopefully that will open some doors. We’re looking at a run in the fall; whether that’s clubs or arenas is up to the listeners.

DK: Thank you Haven for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?

Madison: I’m so grateful for the people that supported me from the beginning. And I think it’s super important—the best way you can support an artist besides listening to their music, is to follow along with their journey. So people who are active on my social media, and big fans and followers of that, do the most for me honestly. The best way of support is to follow my social media, which is Haven Madison Sings.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima