Before “American Idol,” there was “Central Maine Idol.”

Julia Gagnon, the 22-year-old Guatemala native who went to middle school in North Yarmouth, took the top prize in the contest at the Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell last summer.

Little did Gagnon know that – within the year – she would successfully audition for the national series it was modeled on (with an Aretha Franklin number), and gradually advance all the way to the competition’s top 10.

Watch parties have sprung up around Maine for Gagnon’s TV performances. Online as off, the reaction to her singular voice and her success has been exuberant. “Watch out, world,” Rep. Chellie Pingree posted, “the next @AmericanIdol is going to be a Mainer!”

“HOLY BANANAS LISTEN TO THIS WOMAN SING,” the Press Herald’s music writer Aimsel Ponti tweeted at the end of March. Since then, Gagnon’s following has only grown.

On Instagram, where she posted last week about surprise mail from Mexicali Blues, it’s at 30,000 followers. Her handle is @juliasingsabit. It’s fair to say she sings a lot these days, and for millions of admiring people at a time. It’s been uplifting to watch people all across Maine rallying around her success and proudly celebrating her talent.

Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC, Gagnon sings for the nation again. The University of Southern Maine student has been out in Hollywood since March.

If we had to bet, we’d bet she stays there.

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