SALT LAKE CITY — America’s favorite young "American Idol" couple is touring with special guest Kris Allen (winner of season 8) and the rest of season 16’s top seven finalists. They will be performing in Utah on Friday, Aug. 31, at the DeJoria Center in Kamas.
The most recent "Idol" winner, Maddie Poppe, and runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson revealed on the season finale that they had been secretly dating through the season.
Just before Poppe was named "American Idol" winner, Hutchinson told Ryan Seacrest on air that Poppe was his “best pal” and also his girlfriend. Katy Perry started spinning around in circles.
Even though he was the runner-up, Hutchinson seemed elated when Poppe won, tweeting “MY GIRLFRIEND WON AMERICAN IDOL!!! No one deserved it more than you babe. I am honored to know you and even more honored to call you mine. Don’t forget about me. I love you.”
Poppe, a 20-year-old from Clarksville, Iowa, and Hutchinson, a 19-year-old from Dallas, have both spent most of their lives near home, so this will be their first time visiting Utah and the Western United States. The other season 16 finalists joining them are Cade Foehner, Catie Turner, Gabby Barrett, Jurnee, and Michael J. Woodard.
The tour, which kicked off July 11 in Redding, California, and will finish on Sept. 16 in Washington, D.C., features a mix of individual and group performances.
“It’s been a lot of fun being on the road with the top seven because we all get to experience this post-'Idol' life for the first time together, with a new city and a new audience every day,” Poppe told the Deseret News in a recent interview.
For both Poppe and Hutchinson, what they love most about post-"Idol" life and the tour is the people — really seeing the people that voted for them for the first time and letting their fans see and interact with them as people rather than just performers.
“I have a lot of time when I talk to the crowd and interact,” Hutchinson added. “We’ve had some incredible crowds and when the crowd is great, the performance is great.”
They also have had a blast performing together, supporting each other on the long tour across the country.
“He has my back and I have his,” Poppe said.
Allen, who won "Idol" back in 2009, has been suffering from a severe sinus infection on the trip and has been unavailable for interviews, but he did answer some questions about the tour on his Instagram story last Monday.
In response to the question, “How’s parenting the 'Idol' contestants?,” Allen, now 33 with two children ages 5 and 2, responded, “I’ve tried taking away the sweets. The fun times in the bunks. I’ve tried to be the cool dad. Nothing’s working. There comes a time when you give up and give in. This is that time.”
Though Poppe and Hutchinson say their life these days isn’t quite as glamorous as it might seem, with lots of traveling far from home, marketing, press conferences and sleeping on a bus, the singer-songwriter couple is excited to move forward and make new music.
Hutchinson, who doesn’t live too far from Nashville, says he has “some surprises in the works.”
“After tour, I’m definitely hoping to record some of the songs I’ve been writing and co-writing,” he said.
Although Poppe was a favorite of the judges because of what Lionel Richie called her “storytelling voice,” Perry had some doubt before the end of the competition about whether America was ready for a unique voice like hers.
“I didn’t know if a girl-next-door singer-songwriter had the chance,” Perry told Billboard. But Perry was proven wrong when Poppe won, and now the newest "American Idol" winner is determined to stay authentic, true to her sound and to herself.
“I’m just gonna do what I’ve been doing,” Poppe said. “I don’t ever want to get to the point where I’m making stuff just to make money. Because that’s when I’m gonna be unhappy.”
If you go …
What: "American Idol" Live! 2018 Tour
When: Friday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m.
Where: DeJoria Center, 970 N. State Road 32, Kamas
How much: $55–$85