20-year-old Leah Marlene blew judges away with her American Idol audition of Steal my girl by one direction. Marlene was born in Toronto, Canada but grew up in Normal, Illinois where she currently lives. Growing up, Leah played hockey for the Double AA Bloomington Thunder where she was the goalie and the only girl on the team. But hockey wasn’t the activity that occupied most of her time. For Leah, Music was the biggest part of her life.
Leah grew up around music. Her father, Derry Graham, was an 80’s rocker in the Canadian band “Honeymoon Suite” and taught her to play piano and the guitar. He also passed along his passion for songwriting. From that young age, Leah began singing and writing her own songs.
Leah began performing around her hometown around the age of 10. By the age of 13, Leah was releasing her own original music. As a freshman in high school, Leah began to make regular trips to Nashville to write, record, and perform new music. In 2018 she released an EP called “Arrow”.
In 2020 she self-produced an album called “The Space Between.” After graduating High School, Leah attended Belmont University in Nashville where she spent two years studying songwriting before returning home to work on her new album. In September of 2021, Leah was named one of five winners of the SOCAN Foundation’s Young Canadian Songwriters Award for the song spacesuit from “The Space Between” album. Eager to release her new music, she started a Kickstarter campaign in December of 2021 to help fund the production of the new album Leah explained she wanted to have more collaboration on her new album and she raised more than $10,000 exceeding her original $8500 goal.
In June of 2021, American Idol producers reached out to Leah to audition for the show. In July, she auditioned for show producers in Nashville and was invited back to audition before the celebrity judges last November. Before her audition, Leah explained she has been watching the show since she was very young. For her audition, Leah performed a unique cover of One Direction’s “Steal my girl.” After the performance, Judge Katie perry said “You have a tremendous voice” and asked to perform another song after learning Leah had original music. Leah then performed a piece of one of her original songs, “Wisher to the well.” After the performance Judge Katy Perry said, “She reminds me of Catie Turner.” Leah responded that she was honored by the comparison saying Catie was so fun. Judge Lionel Richie told Leah that she carries her “strangeness so well” and loves how she’s so confident with who she is. All three judges voted yes earning Leah a golden ticket and a trip to Hollywood.
Leah’s American Idol audition clip currently has over 1 million views on Facebook, plus almost 600,000 views on YouTube. Leah also isn’t letting American Idol slow her down and she just released her new album “Many Colors” a few days ago. Do you think Leah has what it takes to win American Idol? Let us know in the comments below and thank you for watching.