Milaca teen pursues music career with dad as roadie

Maddy Braun (left) performing with Ed Rudolph and Benny James. Photo provided by Bill Braun.

Aspiring singer-songwriter and Milaca student Maddy Braun has a voice that belies her 13 years.

Braun has made it into all-state choir three years in a row, the first three in which she has been eligible. She hopes to make it five years, which is the maximum students are allowed to participate for.

But her long-term goal is to make a career in music.
She already juggles a modest schedule of performances while maintaining A’s and B’s in her schoolwork. She performs twice a month at Pour Wine Bar & Bistro in Otsego and at other open mic nights in the area.

“Most people are kind of like, ‘Oh, wait, you’re only 13,’” Braun said. “Even kids in my school mistake me as a 17-, 18-year-old.”

Braun started to sing around the age of 2. Her father, Bill Braun, says he taught her to sing the Temptations’ “My Girl” and she never stopped. Bill still plays an indispensable role in his daughter’s budding music career, since Maddy can’t yet drive herself to gigs.

“I’m the roadie,” he said. “I have a ton of fun just hauling her around.”

Maddy’s entry into performing came partly with the help of Kelly Cordes, a local woman who works for MIX 94.9 in St. Cloud and also sings and plays piano herself. Cordes’ brother is an old friend of Bill’s.

“She started inviting her every night when she would play to come sit in,” Bill said.

Covers of pop and R&B musicians like Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, Billy Joel and Linda Ronstadt form the bulk of Braun’s repertoire for now, but she has also started working on songs of her own. She also plays with Local Support, a group that performs at area venues and currently hosts a regular open mic night at The Finish Line in Princeton. Local Support’s other members are family friends, too. Maddy was an on-stage guest at their gigs frequently enough that she eventually became part of the lineup.

“They kind of treat her like another daughter,” Bill said of Lenny Marks and Stacey Hallbeck, Maddy’s bandmates in Local Support.

Even as she makes a musical reputation for herself locally, Maddy is already setting her sights further ahead.

“In August we’re probably going to end up going to Nashville for a week,” Bill said.

Rick Hallbeck, a Princeton native and singer-songwriter who lives in Nashville, plans to have Maddy record a demo of a song of his called “So Blue,” which they will shop around to connections of his in the city’s music scene. Like many, Hallbeck was pleasantly surprised the first time he heard her sing.

“He was like, ‘Oh, you’re kind of good,’” Maddy deadpanned.

Bill Braun, who owns Interiors of Excellence, an upholstery business in Princeton, has loved music from an early age. When he was learning upholstery from his dad, they would always play an oldies station and Bill would learn all the lyrics. Although that passion for music has passed down to Maddy, one thing hasn’t: nerves. Bill said he’s never able to sing in public like his daughter does.

“I don’t get nervous,” Maddy said.

Of course, that security with performing doesn’t come without practice. Maddy took a few piano lessons when she was young, but has mostly taught herself since then, sometimes with the help of YouTube. During her summer vacations she says she practices for hours at a time.

“It gets to be a lot, until my whole family tells me to shut up,” Maddy said.

Maddy shows confidence in her abilities, but she also has a backup plan.

“If it doesn’t work out, I like biology,” she said.

For more information on Maddy Braun and her music, visit her Facebook artist page,


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