Cumberland singer Julia Gagnon advanced Monday to become a top 10 contestant on “American Idol.”

She and the other top 12 contestants competing on Monday night performed Billboard No. 1 songs from artists including Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and Rihanna. Contestants worked with pop sensation Meghan Trainor to prepare for their performances.

More than 20 million people voted throughout the live show, and Gagnon huddled close to her fellow contestants on stage as the results were read aloud.

Gagnon earned her spot singing “Something in the Orange” by Zach Bryan.

In the lead up to her performance, cameras showed Gagnon meeting with Trainor to rehearse.


“I picked this song because it has an emotional connection to me and my family,” Gagnon explained. “We lost my fiancé’s Nana like, right before I came to LA. Nate was heartbroken,” she said. Gagnon said she told her fiancé that she believes you can connect with someone who has passed in the sunrise or sunset, so the pair drove to the Maine coast to watch the sun rise after his Nana’s passing.

“It gave us a lot of closure,” she said.

In their rehearsals, Trainor encouraged Gagnon to use a mic stand and to work on her stage presence. “Sing like she’s listening,” Trainor said. Gagnon nodded.

Gagnon wore cowboy boots and blue eyeshadow as she belted the country ballad, earning a standing ovation from the judges.

“That performance actually convinced me that you’re back in the game soundly,” said judge Lionel Richie. He turned out to be right.

Episodes air weekly at 8 p.m. Sundays and Mondays on ABC. For information on how and when to vote, go to


On Sunday, Gagnon was voted into the top 12 after performing the 1993 Whitney Houston song “Run to You” from the soundtrack of the film “The Bodyguard.”

Gagnon, a 21-year-old student at the University of Southern Maine, told the Press Herald that she kept quiet about her talent as a kid growing up in Cumberland.

She was the last person to audition for season 22 in November, when 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.

She since has performed Adele’s “Rumour Has It,” which had the judges urging the public to vote for her; “I Believe” by Fantasia, a previous “American Idol” winner; and “Need A Favor” by Jelly Roll, a mentor this season.

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