Rumor has it Julia Gagnon will be sticking around on “American Idol” – at least if the judges have anything to say about it.

But for the first time this season, it is the public who controls who stays another week and advances to the top 20, or goes home.

Gagnon, a 21-year-old college student from Cumberland, took to the “American Idol” stage at Aulani Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii on Sunday to deliver a performance of “Adele’s “Rumour Has It” that had the judges urging the public to vote for her.

Judges praised Gagnon’s performance and powerful vocals but encouraged her to work on her stage presence.

“If you’re going to be able to slay it like that, walk the stage, engage the crowd. Bring them in, milk it,” Lionel Richie said. “For everybody listening, vote. For God’s sake, vote.”


Luke Bryan told Gagnon that she should be proud of her performance Sunday night.

“What I love about this show is we get to see people like you that come in and they tell us, ‘I have trouble with stage presence, I’m not comfortable, I’m not confident,’” he said.

“Vote so she can keep growing in this show,” he told the audience.

Gagnon’s performance was one of 12 Sunday night. The remaining half of the top 24 contestants will perform Monday. Two singers from each night will be eliminated next week in the April 14 episode.

Tori Kelly, a former “American Idol” contestant and guest judge, said Gagnon has “powerhouse vocals” but that she wanted to see more of the song’s emotion come out on stage.

Kelly, who also served as a mentor for the 12 contestants in the episode, told Gagnon to channel the lyrics through her facial expressions.


“I almost want to see a little sassiness,” Kelly said.

In Adele’s 2011 hit, the singer confronts her ex-boyfriend about a new love interest. Channeling that emotion required a little bit of acting for Gagnon, who announced in the episode that she got engaged to her boyfriend of two years, Nate, on Christmas Eve.

“He is genuinely my best friend,” she told Kelly, showing off her ring. “Being able to celebrate our engagement in Hawaii has been a dream come true.”

Gagnon advanced to the top 24 after impressing the show’s judges by singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” on the April 1 episode.

Once the top 20 contestants are revealed April 14, the singers will perform and viewers will be asked to vote again, according to the ABC website. Then on April 15, during a live episode from Hollywood, the 10 top vote-getters from the night before will be revealed. But the show’s celebrity judges will add four contestants they deem worthy to create a field of 14 singers going forward. No information on episodes beyond that is available.

Gagnon, who graduated from North Yarmouth Academy and is a senior at the University of Southern Maine on a pre-law track, told the Press Herald that she had been reluctant to share her gift for singing because she didn’t want to stand out among her classmates.


The Guatemala native says she’d been bullied and harassed for her looks and background, and that made her want to be quiet and blend in. But after a talent show during middle school, her chorus teacher, Nora Krainis, encouraged her to sing publicly and worked with her parents, Meg and Jim Gagnon, to create opportunities for her to sing more.

She decided to try out for “American Idol ” in part, to share a special moment and journey with her birth mother in Guatemala, Sara Ramos, who is seriously ill and fighting an infection, Gagnon told the Press Herald in March.

She was the last person to audition for season 22 in November. The judges awarded her one of only three platinum tickets for the singers with the strongest performances, which meant she got a pass through the first round of “Hollywood week.” She then competed against 150 others in the show’s Hollywood Week competition and made it to the top 24.

People can vote from the start of each week’s episodes, Sunday and Monday, until 6 a.m. the following day. Online voting information can be found at and text votes can be placed by texting the number of the contestant you like, which will be given out during the show, to 21523. For more information on how and when to vote, go to

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: