Here comes Maddie Poppe!
Talented, tough and above all, true to herself.
She’s an Iowa original and whatever the stage, the circumstances or the stakes, long before she became a music sensation, she kept growing her talent, toughening herself and remaining true to her searching self.
Maddie will be sharing her music with fans at the opening night of the 169th Fayette County Fair on July 19.
This will be her first appearance at the fair, although she recalls playing at West Union at one point early in her career.
She has family ties to the area since her grandpa lives nearby, and so do some of her relatives.
Since she won the 16th season of American Idol, Maddie has done so much and grown so much that it is hard to believe that she is only 24 years old.
In her native Clarksville, and in Iowa, she is not just a musician of note, but also a daughter, a sister, and a do-gooder.
One quality she never lost despite her fame is her humility. It shows in her music and in her stage presence, but shines in her relationship with her fans.
During the pandemic, for instance, with help from her mom, Tonya, Maddie visited the elementary schools in Waverly to uplift the kids and the teachers.
The idea was also to spread the messages she had learned so well – be who you are and believe in yourself.
Low key and genuine, Maddie sang to the kids “Going, Going, Gone” “Brave” and “The Rainbow Connection,” without seeking media attention prior to the series of appearances. She the answered questions from the kids.
“I think words have a much bigger impact on children than they have on adults,” she told me at the time. “It’s a lot of pressure to think that the words I say will stick with them. I want to give them a positive message they will remember.”
As might be expected, kids didn’t just ask about music. Adding humor to the special occasion, one kid wondered aloud if Maddie ever colored her hair with Kool-Aid.
“I told them no and that dyeing your own hair is not advised.”
Emerging from the pandemic with new perspective
Like many, Maddie says she emerged through the pandemic with a new perspective.
“The pandemic was really eye-opening for me,” she said.
Candid and relatable, she continued:
“I had a lot of setbacks in my career during that time and struggled a lot to pick myself back up again.
“I took a long time off, which was helpful for me to find myself again creatively after basically being thrown into the industry and going nonstop for two years prior.”
Music so far
Maddie is a performer whose on-stage presence is an extension of her authenticity off stage.
She writes music and plays the guitar, piano and ukulele. Those who follow her music are familiar with the albums she has released so far: “Whirlwind,” which reached no. 2 on the iTunes Pop charts; “Songs from the Basement,” in collaboration with her father, Trent, and “The Best of Maddie Poppe EP.”
In 2020, she released “Christmas From Home,” and embarked on an acoustic Christmas tour, playing socially distanced shows. It was a show of character that matched the spirit of the songs in the album.
The world heard about her after the American Idol title, but Maddie had earned the Iowa version of that moniker much earlier and with her tireless work– she was Iowa’s songwriter and musician with a tender heart and the voice to match.
She has appeared on many TV shows, including “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Live! With Kelly & Ryan” and the Radio Disney Music Awards, and performing at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, the Special Olympics, and CMA Fest in Nashville.
Her favorite song
In an interview with Waverly Newspapers, Maddie said her favorite cover song to perform is “Blue Bayou” by Linda Ronstadt.
When it comes to her own repertoire, that special song is “Not Losing You.”
“There is so much meaning behind it,” Maddie told me. “And I find myself singing it differently every night.”
At the Fayette County Fair, Beau Timmerman will open for her at 6:30 p.m. and Maddie will take the stage at 8 p.m.
“I am so excited to be back home performing a show,” she said. “The people of Northeast Iowa have always been so supportive of me and always bring such amazing energy to the shows.”