Julia Gagnon gets a standing ovation before her performance at Merrill Auditorium in Portland on Sunday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

For your average 22-year-old, small-town singer, it might be nerve-wracking to perform before a full house at a venue the size of Merrill Auditorium. Guatemala-born and Cumberland-raised Julia Gagnon, however, is not your average 22-year-old.

Throughout her journey on the singing competition “American Idol” (where she placed in the top seven), she’s performed in front of large in-person audiences, before celebrity judges and for television audiences that number in the millions. Compared to that, a friendly hometown crowd – even one that includes Maine’s governor and U.S. senators – is a breezy evening on the town.

The concert Sunday was the first on a tour of the state that is partly a victory lap, partly a way to thank the people who supported her and partly because there is demand to hear her sing. Her performance at Merrill playfully retraced her journey on “American Idol,” opening with the rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” that introduced her to the world. She further re-created that audition by repeating, “Hi, I’m Julia Gagnon, I’m 22 years old,” and wearing overalls and a cardigan sweater, similar to what she wore in the audition. For audiences who were now used to seeing her in glamorous outfits on TV, the overalls reflected her girl-next-door charm before a crowd that partly knew her when she was the girl next door.

The concert was a platform for her to celebrate her “Idol” experience while looking ahead to the next chapter of her life and career. While she offered show-stopping performances of favorite songs from the competition – a wide array of material that included Jelly Roll’s “Need a Favor,” Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange” and the night’s highlight, Fantasia’s “I Believe” – she also sprinkled in some original songs that she created with her fiancé and writing partner, Waterville native Nate Haven. These songs went over very well; they were intimate in construction, but the training Gagnon received on her “American Idol” journey helped infuse them with power and firm control. Haven also joined her on acoustic guitar for most of the evening.

Former “American Idol” contestants Julia Gagnon, right, and Ajii share a hug after the two performed together at Merrill Auditorium in Portland on Sunday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In addition to Haven, she was joined by her fellow “Idol” contestant Ajii, who performed duets with her, in addition to an original song and a cover of “Valerie,” a song popularized by Amy Winehouse. Ajii’s presence allowed Gagnon opportunities to change outfits, inspiring screams from the crowd when she took the stage in a gown for a stunning rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Run To You.” It’s no small feat to tackle songs by Franklin and Houston, but as the world now knows, Gagnon has a honey-rich voice with impressive power and range.

For all of the glitz and glamour, the down-home Mainer in her was never far from the surface. The North Yarmouth Academy graduate proudly represented her region throughout the competition, and her original material reflected Maine’s influence on her art. She closed the concert with her first post-“Idol” single, “Here in Maine.” The emotion of the moment got to her just once, as she teared up just before the chorus, but she quickly regained composure and brought the crowd to its feet.

It’s safe to say she passed the audition.

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