Energetic Leah Marlene comes to American Idol season 20 by way of Normal, Illinois. But she’s anything but normal.
The quirky 20 year old, born in Toronto, Canada, grew up surrounded by music and instruments. Her dad is also a musician.
She’s been watching American Idol forever. “I was practically coming out of the birth canal when Kelly Clarkson won, which is crazy!” Leah laughs.
The young singer kicks off her audition with a compelling acoustic flip of One Direction’s “Steal My Girl,” adding a few jazzy riffs to her guitar accompaniment.
“You’ve got a tremendous voice,” says judge Katy Perry. Then, she asks Leah to perform a little of an original song. The singer introduces the number, “Wish Her to the Well,” explaining that she wrote it with two friends in Nashville. She attended Belmont University for two years, and had recently dropped out.
Katy Perry compares Leah to Season 16’s Catie Turner
“I’m a dropout baby, and I’m proud of it,” Leah jokes before launching into her self-penned tune. She’s an excellent, expressive singer and also a solid musician. Afterward, Katy compares Leah to season 16’s quirky singer-songwriter, Catie Turner, who is signed to Atlantic Records, presently.
“Somebody said that to me earlier,” Leah says. “It’s an honor. Catie is so fun.” Leah is reminiscent of Catie, but she is a few years older than Catie was at the time of her audition, and has more experience and confidence.
“You’re super fun, you’re super quirky, you’re super weird,” observes Katy. “That’s what we are as well! You’ve got a lot of talent.”
“You carry your strangeness so well,” Lionel Richie adds. “And that is a wonderful part of being an artist, that you’re bringing us the character. A lot of times we have to dig people out, get them to find themselves. You are so comfortable with yourself. It is refreshing.”
“I think you’re tremendous,” says Luke Bryan. “You’re just entertainment in a human little life form over there. There’s nothing about you that we’re going to be able to predict.” And it’s three yeses for Leah, who is going to Hollywood!