The image above seems like so long ago. I bet if you asked Maddie Poppe, she'd agree. The easy-going girl from Iowa, who sang a song made famous by a Muppett is now an American Idol winner. And she never changed or compromised during her journey. Maddie's win is all over the news today. But soon, it will disappear. But not here in Iowa. We're going to remember this for a long time.

When you ask someone to name a famous person from Iowa you get one of two answers. If the person you're asking is a bit older, they'll tell you, John Wayne. Wayne, born in Winterset, Iowa, is Hollywood royalty. He's an American icon. But to younger generations, he's a myth. Younger people might sight the fact that Ashton Kutcher or Elijah Wood are from the Eastern Iowa area. Heck, you might get a couple of notable sports stars from Cedar Rapids too in Zach Johnson and Kurt Warner. We now get to add Maddie Poppe to that list of famous Iowans. And while I want her to achieve as much fame and success as she can handle, she must realize she is more important than that.

Maddie's win and the way she carried herself should be looked upon with pride. Her success proves that you don't have to be from a big state or a large city to make it in the music business, or any other field you're passionate about. That's a message that more young people need to hear, especially young girls. I know as a parent, I'm supposed to be a role model for my kids. I take that responsibility seriously. But kids look elsewhere for inspiration. I hope they look towards Maddie. I hope they look and see how she did things her way. She sang a song at her audition made famous by Kermit The Frog. She covered songs by Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. She didn't let anyone tell her she needed to be more 'pop', or sing an uptempo song. She was herself, and that was good enough. Good enough for her, and America.

After Maddie was announced as the winner last night, I went into my daughter's bedroom and woke them up to tell them that the girl from Iowa had just won American Idol. They said, "Really? That's cool...." It sure is girls. It sure is.

Ryan Brainard
Ryan Brainard


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