It’s Thanksgiving (Happy Turkey Day!), which means it’s just about time to kick into Christmas mode (I realize a few of you tend to be premature about this, but we won’t hold that against you.) And I can’t think of a better way to do this than coming out to Maddie Poppe’s Acoustic Christmas this coming Tuesday, November 30th, at The Music Hall at World Café Live. The performance will be the second of the 23-year-old singer/songwriter’s Christmas tour, which began November 21st in Arnolds Park, in Poppe’s home state of Iowa. Last November Maddie Poppe released a holiday EP, followed by an Acoustic Christmas Tour but, with touring largely restricted, it remained solely in the Hawkeye State, so her stop in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection will be a first for her Christmas show!
American Idol fans will recognize Maddie Poppe as the Season 16 winner, where she won the hearts of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and all of you, singing songs by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac, in addition to a few of her own. However, during a recent phone chat, Poppe tells me that, as a singer/songwriter, regardless of the medium by which people discover her, her own songs and style are always at the forefront of her mind: “I always try to stay true to myself. I don’t like to follow anyone’s path.”
Since winning American Idol in 2018, Maddie Poppe released her second LP, Whirlwind (which reached #2 on the iTunes Pop Charts), appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Live! with Kelly & Ryan, and supported Ingrid Michaelson on The Dramatic Tour. When I ask her about some of the highlights of her career since American Idol, she tells me that, while some of those milestones stand out, some of the opportunities that she’s afforded on a regular basis, as a professional musician, are equally exciting: “I’d have to say the People’s Choice Award, and just having the chance to be in the room with the people that I’ve gotten to write with.”
Scrolling through Maddie Poppe’s Spotify playlists displays a love of classics like Joni Mitchell, Elton John, and Carpenters; contemporaries like Jade Bird, Haley Reinhart, and Kacey Musgraves; and even some PHILTHY favorites, like Cub Sport, Wolf Alice, and The Paper Kites. But when I ask her about some of her longtime favorites, she tells me, “Something I listened to a lot as a kid was Anna Nalick’s ‘Breathe (2 AM).’ That’s one I listened to on repeat all the time when I was a kid. And I love Lily Allen and I love her album It’s Not Me, It’s You.” And there is one artist who has recently been making a splash on the charts who has also made a significant impression on Poppe: “Somebody’s music that stands out and stands on its own is Dua Lipa. It’s refreshing and different. It sounds different from most of the pop stuff that’s out there now.”
Last year’s Christmas EP and her current tour are obvious evidence of Maddie Poppe’s affection for Christmas, but she tells me that that affection has grown even more intense in recent years: “Just being with my family every year for Christmas is great, especially now that I’m a musician and I’m usually all over the place.” When I ask her about how opening night of the tour went and what we can expect in Philadelphia, she says that, as excited as she is, the set also has her a little anxious: “It was a lot of fun, obviously. I was pretty nervous because usually I play my own songs, and it’s like [almost] all Christmas songs… I think the only covers I’m doing are Christmas songs, but I’m doing a lot of my own stuff, too.” And when I ask her what she has planned for the future, she tells me there are definitely new songs and that she’s been excited to have been spending a lot of time in our second favorite city, Nashville (home of many of our favorite artists, like Madi Diaz, Maggie Rose, and Leah Blevins): “I have a bunch of new music I’m really excited to release. I don’t quite have dates yet, but I’ve been in Nashville for the past month or so, writing with different people every day… I spent a lot of time in LA after American Idol, but I think Nashville is the place for me.”
*Get your tickets here.