Last weekend, Leah Marlene performed a highly anticipated concert in front of a hometown crowd. Reportely, around 5,000 concert goers attended the singer-songwriters concert at the Corn Crib in Normal, Illinois. Her fellow American Idol season 20 alum Fritz Hager and season 16 winner Maddie Poppe served as openers.
Before the concert, Leah dropped big news in an interview with Bloomington’s B1o4. Earlier this summer, Leah packed up all her stuff and moved to Los Angeles to begin her career. But after a few weeks, she’s changed gears.
After a recent move to Los Angeles, Leah has decided to head to Nashville
“Basically I came out to LA for a little bit, had a sublease and now I’m going back to Nashville,” the singer announced.
“I’m just going for six months…I don’t know how long I’m going to be in one place at this point. Might be a few months, might be more months. I don’t know.” Leah added, “I’m just following what makes sense in my career right now. But there’s been so much opportunity that has been pulling me back there [to Nashville]. She loves Los Angeles, but the opportunities for her appear to be in the Music City.
Leah attended Nashville adjacent Belmont College, and has friends and contacts in Nashville. Also, with Maddie, Fritz and more friends in the city, it makes sense she’d want to spend time there.
She also touched on her ongoing struggle with her post-American Idol life, which she detailed in a lengthy heartfelt Instagram post. “When you don’t have a game plan…it’s so easy to listen to everybody else,” she says. But these days, she knows “this is my path.”
“Even looking at my friends, that was really hard coming off the show, because they had a path,” she said. “A lot of them were getting signed or just had some stuff going on. I didn’t. It’s just so hard not to compare. I feel a lot better about that.”
Opening up to her fans on social media at the the end of July “really changed a lot for me.” Sharing that her post-Idol journey was not all “rainbow sunshine” that “everybody thinks it is” triggered an outpouring of support for the singer. “That day was the first time I felt peace since the show,” she explained, “Just hearing everybody’s wisdom and support and feedback and the comfort that 1000 people [commented], where 50% of them wrote paragraphs they’re genuinely there for me and my artistry.”
“I have to do this thing the way that I do it or else I just won’t survive”
Leah said coming off the show, there are “a lot of forces that want to pull you into commercial-land.”
She says that “coming off of Idol…really tripped my mind up because there [were] a lot of forces that want to pull you into commercial land,” She added, “I felt very misunderstood by not being what is [considered] commercial. That made me feel pretty crappy for for a little bit.” She considered doing “something a little more straight down the middle” but then she realized, “That’s not you!”
“When you go through such an intense experience…it just messes with your brain,” she said. “But I’m back to Leah who does whatever Leah does…I have to do this thing the way that I do it or else I just won’t survive.”
Fritz hints at signing a label deal, is probably moving to Nashville
The following day, Fritz and Leah did a joint interview with the same radio station. After the American Idol finale, Fritz vacationed with his family to decompress. After that, he said, “It’s really just been hit the ground running writing as much as I can taking trips to Nashville and LA and stuff like that, playing when I can.”
Fritz and Leah also did separate interviews with 1o1.5. The interviewer asked Fritz if he would be releasing music independently, or with a record label. Fritz played coy, “No, I can’t talk too much about the label stuff, but just got back from a writing trip, writing with a bunch of different people. New music is 100% on the way and I’ll be teasing some of it on socials pretty soon.”
Fritz has been recording demos this summer, and participated last month in what appeared to be a label showcase with a bunch of his fellow American Idol alums, sponsored by 19 Recordings, American Idol’s record label.
He added, “I do think I’ll be moving pretty soon. Still haven’t totally made a decision, I think Nashville, but I’m not 100% sure yet.”
Leah calls Maddie Poppe “one of the funniest people…she will have you busting a gut”
Leah gushed in her interview with 101.5 about Maddie Poppe, who is performing on the road with both Leah and Fritz. “Maddie Poppe is one of the funniest people you will ever encounter in your life,” Leah said. “I just played a show with her in Evanston and she will have you busting a gut. She’s like a stand-up comic along with her music.”
“But then she’ll be slaying the songs and you’re just so deeply enthralled in what she’s doing.” Leah continued. “Her voice is just so captivating and most songs that she does are so melodic. She does a lot of classics, she has new stuff she’s been writing. She’s just a hit for every age group. You will just fall in love with her if you don’t know who she already is. She is really, really fantastic.”
Here are a couple of posts from Leah’s big homecoming show
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Leah and Fritz came together to sing “Locked Out of Heaven,” their American Idol Hollywood Week duet. But also, Leah, Fritz and Maddie sang as a trio! Check it out below.
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