Shannon Magrane's American Idol journey came to an end in March 2012, throwing her back into reality.
She went from celebrity judges to teachers, from the glittery stage to a Blake High School classroom.
But life after Idol continues to be a fast-paced juggling act between musical stardom and academic pursuits for Magrane, now 18.
She balances writing, recording, ACT's and college prep with regular teenage stuff. She's making real-life decisions and planning her next step, whether it be college or making a full-time commitment to music.
Although Magrane strives for the national spotlight, she still finds time to perform locally, including an appearance at Nativity Catholic Church's Novemberfest tonight (Nov. 8) and a pregame concert for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where she plans to perform some of her original songs.
"I want to share my original songs with Tampa since they have been so supportive."
American Idol put her in the mind-set of always practicing and working hard. It opened up avenues, including charity fundraisers, a performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention and the chance to record on artists' albums.
NASCAR invited Magrane to sing the national anthem at the Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 in Charlotte, N.C. She also enjoyed the first opportunity to sing an original song, Go, in front of the NASCAR crowd.
American Idol built Magrane's fan base.
"After American Idol, my friends would get annoyed because when we would go out, people would ask for autographs and pictures and my friends would have to take them," she joked. "I am so lucky to have that fan base and always want to keep up with them."
Magrane, with her green tank top tucked into a black skirt, high black boots, fish-braided blond hair and silver eye shadow, hopes her new single, set to release early next year, will show a different side of her persona.
"I have an edgy side, too, and I want people to see that," she said.
To prepare for her first single, she wrote a list of possible songs to choose from, one that represents her and her style, and she drew inspiration from Beyoncé, a star she would love to emulate.
"People always ask me (who I admire) and my answer is always Beyoncé," said Magrane. "She is a triple threat. Not everyone knows, but I have been dancing just as long as I have been singing. When I was on American Idol and we had to do a choreographed dance, (judges) Randy (Jackson) and Jennifer (Lopez) were like, 'Where did you learn to dance?' "
Though she questions whether she started too young, auditioning for American Idol in the summer of 2011 as a 15-year-old, it was something she always wanted to do.
"My family and I would always watch the show, and I would say I am going to be on it and my parents would laugh and say "Oh, yeah? Keep praying.' "
But it is the support of her family that keeps her success moving forward. Whether it's her father, Joe, a pro baseball pitcher turned sports announcer who gives advice about being in front of a crowd, her fast-talking, social media wiz mother, Renee, or her younger sister, another aspiring singer, who keeps her in check, there is always someone she can turn to.
As a present for her 18th birthday, her younger sister took her trick-or-treating. Nothing elaborate, just normal sister bonding amid the crazy whirlwind of Shannon's blossoming career.
Arielle Waldman can be reached at email@example.com.