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LI singer Shannon Gibbons makes it to 'American Idol' top 40

Shannon Gibbons of Bellport is a top-40 finalist

Shannon Gibbons of Bellport is a top-40 finalist on "American Idol." She's seen here during her Hawaii performance. Credit: ABC/Karen Neal

From Bellport to Hollywood to Hawaii, local singer Shannon Gibbons has been performing all over America for "American Idol." And after having made it to this season's top 40 during Hollywood Week, the 21-year-old will sing on the ABC talent competition's two-hour episode from the Aloha State, Sunday at 8 p.m.

Hollywood Week, she says by phone from Bellport, where she is isolating with her family during the coronavirus pandemic, "was just really a lot to take in, for sure." Gibbons performed three songs during that round for judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, after having wowed them during her initial audition in Savannah, Georgia — where her rendition of Etta James' classic "I'd Rather Go Blind" prompted judge Katy Perry to say, "I ain't letting any more people go through unless they're as good as Shannon."

Gibbons’ Hollywood Week performance of "All I Want," by Kodaline was the only one televised. "My second one," Gibbons says, "I sang with a girl name Mama Yaya," a 28-year-old from Chicago, during the "Duets" portion. They were one of at least three duos to sing "Breakeven"   by The Script.

"My partner messed up a little bit on the lyrics and I had to step in and kind of helped her out," Gibbons says. Afterward, she adds of her eliminated partner, "She was really thankful but at same time she kind of knew that in competition like this if you mess up, you're nearing the end of your road. It's sad, and she was kind of my friend, too." Gibbons' third Hollywood Week song — performed, like the Hawaii segments, late last year / before the pandemic — was "God Is a Woman" by Ariana Grande.

Born and raised in Bellport, Gibbons is the youngest of five children of dad Eddie Gibbons, a home-improvement contractor and a personal trainer for soccer, and mom Christine Gibbons, a crossing guard for the Patchogue-Medford School District. Shannon attended Bellport High School in Brookhaven before going on to major in sociology at Queens College.

On her Savannah-audition episode, which ran March 1, Gibbons spoke plaintively about the depression and suicidal thoughts she has suffered since early childhood. "When I was interviewing for my audition," she tells Newsday, "they asked me a bunch of questions about my mental health and my journey, and I told them that now I've gotten the correct help I need" in terms of therapy and medication, "and support from my family that's opened me up to a new level of myself and happiness."

Until the pandemic indefinitely halted bands' live outdoor performances, Gibbons had performed all over Long Island, including at numerous festivals, with her spiritually oriented band The Om-en. 

Gibbons' episode was the last to be recorded before the live-show competition was scheduled to begin Monday.  With coronavirus restrictions having shuttered the show's location, the Aulani resort in Ko Olina, Hawaii, and with the singers all subsequently sent home, ABC said on March 27 that, "Regarding 'American Idol' live shows, we are monitoring the situation and exploring multiple options …. We will share a production plan as soon as it's in place." The episode will be rerun Saturday, April 11, at 9 p.m.

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