Cumberland singer and “American Idol” contestant Julia Gagnon has been the talk of the town in Maine as she’s advanced through several rounds of competition over the past few weeks.

But her run ended Sunday as she fell short in the vote count to advance to the round of five, despite turning in two stellar performances.

Sunday night’s episode featured two rounds of songs from the remaining seven contestants.

The Salt Yard Cafe & Bar at the Canopy Hotel in Portland’s Old Port hosted a viewing party Sunday that drew a small crowd.

Joe Dunbar, 48, of Portland, sat at the bar to watch. “Her voice is just incredible,” he said.

Gagnon’s first song was “Roam” by the B-52’s.


Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan piled on the praise.

“It was fantastic, I loved it,” said Richie

“The energy’s there, the look’s there, the vocals are there, you’re there,” said Perry.

Bryan said it was refreshing to see Gagnon’s confidence. “You keep coming out here and acing the course and that’s what this show is all about.”

Dunbar was also dazzled. “It was fantastic. It’s not the normal song I would picture her doing but her whole journey on this show has been expanding as an artist and it’s been really exciting to watch.”

Fans at the Salt Yard Cafe & Bar in Portland watch Julia Gagnon of Cumberland performs on “American Idol” on Sunday night. Aimsel Ponti/Staff Writer

The second half of the episode featured all seven contestants singing songs by Adele. Sunday was the English singer’s 36th birthday and Gagnon performed the 16-time Grammy winner’ s hit “Set Fire to the Rain.”


“This was your lane. It was all you, it was exactly what Adele wants on her birthday,” said Perry.

There was disappointment among the staff and few people still at the bar when the singers who made it to the next round were announced, but everyone agreed Gagnon was tremendous.

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 before the season started that she had been reluctant to sing publicly 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 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.

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.

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