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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with American Idol Winner Maddie Poppe

2002, Kelly Clarkson wins American Idol and now she’s a pop superstar. American Idol has launched so many musicians careers. For 15 seasons, Idol was starting the careers of Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson and so many more. In 2016 Idol closed their curtains and decided it was time to sing their last note. ABC saw an opportunity to bring it back a few years later and make it with a whole new feel but still keep that same focus on the contestants. Maddie Poppe, from Clarksville, Iowa was the first winner of the new American Idol.

Poppe is currently on tour with a few other contestants such as Catie Turner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, Cade Foehner, Michael J Woodard and season 8 winner, Kris Allen. The tour is a great way to see all the contestants show off their talent. CelebMix had the chance to chat with Maddie Poppe at their stop in Lynn, MA.

Photo Credit: Amelia Cordischi (@ontheslide)

What does it feel like being the winner of the new American Idol?

It’s pretty crazy, some days I realize it and other days I just think “is this my life?” It’s a dream come true. It’s everything I thought I couldn’t do.

What’s it like touring VS being on the show? Is one more exhausting than the other?

I think that the tour has been harder. It’s the same thing, you’re repeating it every night and every night you’re comparing your performance to the best one you’ve done so far. I’m never happy when I walk off stage, I’m never like “wow that was perfect” because it’s doing it night after night after night, it’s like you’re not even thinking, you’re just going through the motions. On the show it was something different every week. I think the routine has been kind of exhausting, but the show was something new everyday and you never knew what the next week was going to bring.

What are your plans after the tour? 

I’m going to do a couple writing sessions in October in Nashville and LA. I have a new single coming out in October and I’m going to start working on the new album and getting some shows together for the next year.

How do you guys all get along on tour, do you guys every need your personal space? 

I mean honestly, you would think that it would get annoying but it doesn’t, at all. We all get along really well and we are all very aware of the space everyone needs, I think we’re very self-aware. We know when we want our personal space, what we need to do. Everyone get’s along so well that there’s no really cliques, there’s no these two people are friends and they don’t talk to anybody else. It’s just kind of a little family.

What does “Going Going Gone” mean to you? 

When I picked it, I picked it because I liked it and I didn’t really think about the meaning or anything like that. As I listened to it a few more times, I was like “wow this song is what my life has been like” because it’s about having a dream and not knowing if it’s going to workout and being told no over and over again and people doubting you. It says “even if it starts to hurt, I want to feel it until my whole heart bursts.” I interpret that as the road is hard, this whole thing, this whole singing career that I’ve been trying to chase my whole life. It’s been hard and there’s been times I wanted to give up, but it’s what I love more than anything. It’s about getting up and going and going to get that dream, that’s kind of what I did with American Idol and I took a chance and it worked out for me.

What’s your favorite performance on tour? 

I always like singing “Going Going Gone.” I think that’s my favorite song, which is weird because I went into this tour and they told me they wanted me to sing that song for the shows and I didn’t want to because it’s such a hard song to sing, it was at a fast pace. That was before we had the acoustic version. Then we came out with the acoustic version and that was slower, it was down half a step and it was a lot easier to sing but it was still tricky. So now, I like singing it because I do something different with it every night, I see what else I can add in. It’s a challenge for me, it’s not something that I sing that I just go through the motions and sing, it’s a challenge for me.

For future contestants auditioning, what’s some advice you would give to them?

I would say just to be yourself because I thought about this a lot, when I first auditioned, I told myself that I was going to do my thing, but then I wondered what if they don’t like it, what if they want me to sing pure pop or pure country. I think that if I would have gone with that and just thought that’s what people wanted to hear and pretended to be something that I wasn’t and then got to the end, well then I’d have to be that person from here on out because that’s what drew my fans in and so I would say be yourself, do what makes you happy, even if that means you won’t make it into the next round. You don’t want to go all the way pretending to be something you’re not and then being unhappy with it.

What has this whole experience been like going through it with a boyfriend?

It’s been a lot of fun, somedays we step on each others toes, because we’re around each other more than a married couple. We don’t go to work and have eight hours apart, we are literally together all day everyday, 24 hours. Sometimes we drive each other crazy but it’s really nice having him because this is my first time doing this, this is all of our first times going on tour and being way from our families, we are all really close with our families, that’s something I noticed is that we are all having a hard time being away from our families. So, to have each other and especially to have Caleb with me is has been really nice.

Photo Credit: Amelia Cordischi (@ontheslide)

What’s it like going back home now? 

When I go back home, it is completely different, because I can’t really go anywhere without people stopping me and seeing me, which is nice, it’s nice to be recognized and it’s nice to know that people were paying attention, watching the show. It’s actually refreshing going back home, because that’s where it all started for me and so I’ve gotten wrapped up in all these different cities, touring and I was out in LA for five months, so to come back home is a breath of fresh air, it reminds me where I came from. It’s really nice because that’s the one place that I don’t have to work, not that this is work, but it’s the one place that I can just sit around, I can just sit around with my family, not be bothered, not have any sort of pressure, at all.

What would you be doing if you didn’t go and audition for American Idol?

I was going to school for digital mass media, so I really liked film and photography and graphic design and I was doing a lot of that stuff. I thought about being a music teacher but I can’t read music and so I couldn’t put myself through the music theory part of that. Being a music teacher would have been fun but I was going for graphic design and digital mass media.

What has been your favorite memory on the tour so far? 

Meeting the fans, performing, all that, what the tour is about has been a lot of fun but I think that my favorite memories are some of the memories that we’ve made sitting right here (on the tour bus) after the show at 3 AM. We all sit out here and we talk for hours and just joke around and mess around. I think those are the memories that I’m going to remember forever.

If you want to see Maddie Poppe or any of your other favorite contestants on the American Idol Live Tour, you can purchase tickets here.

If you end up going to one of the shows make sure you share your photos with us @CelebMix on social media!

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Written by Will Heffernan