Leah Marlene Post-American Idol: “No opportunity came to me”

Leah Marlene American Idol
photo cr: Easton Schirra

Leah Marlene is playing tour dates and plotting her next move.

The American Idol season 20 2nd runner-up opened up on Instagram recently about the difficulty of post-Idol life. While 19 Recordings signed four of her fellow contestants to record contracts, she wasn’t among them.

Winner Noah Thompson, runner-up HunterGirl, Top 5 singer Fritz Hager and Top 11 alum Allegra Miles joined several other 19 Recordings artists over the weekend in Nashville for two label showcases. In the meantime, Leah is out on the road solo, feeling a little frustrated.

In a wide ranging interview with hometown outlet, Pantagraph, the Normal, Illinois singer elaborated on her heartfelt Instagram confession.

“I feel like I’ve been maintaining this perception of ‘I’m living in the dream, man!’ And that’s what American Idol wants you to think: This is the big break and everything changes here,” Leah shared with the outlet. “The public perception is that people that do well on the show, they got it made now … It’s all figured out and whatever.”

“I never expected it to be a golden ticket to anything.”

However, Leah added, “That’s simply not the case, and I knew that going into it … I always saw the show for what it was, I never expected it to be a golden ticket to anything.”

Although Leah felt prepared going into the show, she said that “nothing can prepare you…and nothing can prepare you for coming off the show. It’s something that I’m just learning how to navigate right now.”

Leah confessed that she’s reevaluating everything about her game plan. “When I first came off the show, I was so on fire to make something happen out of the show,” Leah told Pantagraph. “I just started working nonstop, and meeting with everybody I could think of.”

“No opportunity came to me when I came off the show. Not one…”

The singer is rethinking that approach. “Now it’s been two months and I’ve been going in circles and I’m hitting a wall and it’s not a very effective way to do things and it’s not a good way to live as a human being either.”

Leah revealed that “No opportunity came to me when I came off the show. Not one person, not one manager, publisher, indie record label or anything. There was no interest that came to me.”

She was taken aback by that. “I didn’t expect for anything to just happen after the show. I was taken just slightly off guard that there was not like one interested person to help me in any way at all,” Leah continued, “It was like nothing, and so that was quite a shift at the beginning. But that put a fire under me to make stuff happen.

“Unless you get signed immediately coming off the show, you are completely on your own”

American Idol is is a crazy rocket ship up to the stratosphere and then it all ends in one night,” Leah revealed. “Unless you get signed immediately coming off the show, you are completely on your own to figure out what on earth do you do with that.”

“The one thing that I do have going for me is I was connected with an incredible booking agent (Madison House).” Leah said, “That has been such a weight lifted in terms of playing live shows and getting booked on some great opportunities.”

Nevertheless, for Leah “It has been so incredibly hard. The first month off the show, pretty much every day I would have a good cry — a good mental breakdown.” Things are getting a little better. However, she said that while it’s a little bit less this month, “it’s still a lot,” she added, “I’m processing through this circumstance in a very healthy way, but it doesn’t make the circumstance any less hard.”

To “sell out” or not…

Leah is also struggling with how much she’s willing to “fit in” to the current pop music landscape. “I was really confused the first month coming off the show. I was like; ‘Do I even know what genre I am? Am I going to try to make something commercial for the sake of making it commercial?'”

“For a second there, I was like ‘maybe I do want to be a pop star. Maybe I want to assimilate.'” Leah added, “Now, I’ve definitely come a long way. I just want to make music that matters to me that I could feel in every part of my being. I know that in doing that, it’ll matter to other people and other people will be able to feel it in a very similar way.”

“So ideally, the masses will relate … and then it’s like a whole thing,” Leah said. “But even if not, I’m in this for the music and nothing else. It’s one of those things where I can’t not do it. I cannot not make music for my living. And so, music can’t not be the focus of it. I could not just make mediocre music or music to fit in something just so I can achieve some sort of entertainment industry goal.”

Leah is excited to collaborate with fellow Idol alums Maddie Poppe and Fritz Hager

Currently Leah is on the road playing a set of shows. Over the weekend (July 30), she opened for season 16 winner Maddie Poppe at Evanston at Space in Illinois. Maddie will also open for Leah, along with Fritz Hager for her show at the Corn Crib in her hometown, Normal Illinois.

“I’m so excited to have Maddie and Fritz on the Corn Crib show,” Leah gushed. “That is going to be the best lineup ever. The group of us three together is just such a perfect little group of people and the way that our sounds are all different but are so cohesive at the same time. Then also just personality wise, it’s gonna be so great.”


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About mj santilli 34546 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!