Abi Carter

Heavy/ABC “American Idol” season 22 winner Abi Carter

Season 22 “American Idol” winner Abi Carter is on top of the world right now, whisked off to New York after singing her way to the top spot during the show’s 2024 finale on May 19. But as the 21-year-old plots out her bright future, she can’t help but think about her past whenever her new single, “This Isn’t Over,” is played.

Days after her big win, Carter told Heavy that she wrote the powerful pop ballad while reflecting on a time when life felt so hard, she lost the will to live.

“There was a big point in my life where I didn’t necessarily believe in myself anymore,” Carter said. “And I didn’t even know if I wanted to continue to, kind of, live.”


Abi Carter Wrote Her New Song Not Knowing It Would Be Released

During her “Idol” journey, the Indio, California, native was open about the childhood challenges she faced as the oldest of seven siblings with a single mom. Homeschooled from the time she was in third grade, Carter later tried to attend public high school but had to quit after one semester to help at home when her parents split, she told the Desert Sun in March.

“It was during that time that my parents separated,” she said. “My mom had to start going back to school to get a degree to support all of us. I, subsequently, kind of had to leave public high school and go back into homeschooling so that I could get a job to be able to buy a car and take my siblings to and from school and extracurricular activities.”

Driven to succeed, Carter finished high school early while juggling college level courses, she told Heavy. But she had to dig deep to find that drive several years before, recalling how dark things felt even when she was just 11 years old.

“I was really, really, like, contemplating giving up entirely,” she said, “and I realized that I needed to stop being that, you know, sort of insecure, weak person. And not only just for myself, but for my mom and for my family. And I needed to learn how to grow as a person and be stronger, to be able to lift myself up and the people around me.”

That was the inspiration behind “This Isn’t Over,” which she wrote without realizing the whole world would soon hear it.

“I didn’t know that I wanted to release it until we were given the option,” Carter told Heavy of learning that the top 5 contestants would each get to perform, produce and release new singles during the final week of the show.

“I was given the option to listen to a lot of songs from different artists,” she explained, adding that she “felt really strongly, kind of in my heart” about releasing a song she wrote herself and that held significant meaning.

“I definitely see myself as a singer songwriter, an artist, and I wanted to put out something that I believed in, that I personally experienced,” Carter told Heavy.

The finished product, Carter said, sounds similar to the way she envisioned it as she wrote the song, Carter said, adding that she created a demo that she pitched to the record label as her first single.

“We worked so hard on it and we chose every little bit of it,” Carter said. “And so that was really cool to be able to still be myself as an artist and put that out.”


Abi Carter Earned Her College Degree Before Taking a Year to Pursue Her Passion for Music

With so many credits built up during high school, Carter was able to graduate summa cum laude from California State University San Bernardino, at the Palm Desert campus, in May 2023, when she was just 20.

With a degree in Marriage & Family Therapy, Carter planned to pursue her Master’s degree next, she told Heavy, but decided to give herself a break and spend one year pursuing her passion for music, much like her “Idol” runner-up, Will Moseley, said he did on the show.

“I think I just had spent so long being super responsible and always taking on more than than a kid should handle,” Carter told Heavy, adding that she even quit her job at a gymnastics club to busk on the streets of her hometown, earning a little money and gaining lots of experience along the way.

“I figured I would just pretend as though I was still in college and pursue something
that I was actually passionate about,” Carter explained. “And if it didn’t work out that year that I would go and get my master’s. So I tried out for ‘American Idol’ and it led me here.”

Carter now hopes to build on the momentum of her “Idol” win and the relationships she’s forged through the show to immerse herself in creating new music, both alone and with other songwriters, and playing live shows.

But before all that, the newly-crowned winner is also looking forward to savoring a little time at home, telling Heavy she’s looking forward to “playing games with my family and swimming in the backyard and jumping on the trampoline, sleeping in my own bed. Taking a shower in my own shower, (playing) the piano I grew up on.”

“I’m excited,” she exclaimed. “I’m excited to do normal things.”

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