Van Pelt was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2002, she moved to South Kingstown, Rhode Island.Van Pelt sang at church in the children’s choir and at the age of seven was singing solos with the adult choir.
Van Pelt auditioned for the eleventh season of American Idol in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the semi-final round, she performed Heart’s “What About Love”, but was not one of the five highest female vote getters. The judges selected her to be one of the six wild card performers. She performed Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” and was selected as one of the three wild cards to advance to the Top 13. Van Pelt was eliminated on March 22, 2012, after cutting her usually shoulder length locks to a pixie cut, courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger. Over all, she finished in tenth place.