Noah Thompson was crowned winner of the "American Idol" during the season 20 finale on May 22. But Leah Marlene, who ended up in third place, also grabbed the spotlight.
Leah Marlene won over the hearts of "American Idol" viewers with her inspiring message during the show, saying that music is all about people sharing and enjoying a moment together.
The talented singer has a powerful voice and a warm personality that makes her a star. Get to know her through these interesting facts, including one about her father.
Leah Marlene performs onstage during "American Idol" Season 20 on May 15, 2022 | Source: Getty Images
WHO IS LEAH MARLENE?
Twenty-year-old Marlene is a student from Normal, Illinois. She kicked off her audition with a unique rendition of One Direction's hit song "Steal My Girl."
She may have initially sung an iconic pop song, but she also performed her own music while on the show. During the auditions, Marlene revealed to the judges that she had "just" dropped out of college.
She studied at Belmont University for two years before leaving to pursue her dream. Having studied songwriting, Marlene returned to Illinois to work on an album.
Music runs in Marlene's family. Derry Grehan from the Canadian rock band Honeymoon Suite is Marlene's father. He's a brilliant lead guitarist and songwriter behind several songs, including "New Girl Now" and "Burning in Love."
Following in her father's musical footsteps, Marlene stated that she spent her entire childhood surrounded by guitars and amplifiers. The singer-songwriter described her dad as a "rock star."
Grehan and his famous rock band, who rose to fame in the late 1980s, have a long list of chart-topping successes in Canada and the United States.
A TV series and a legendary film have used some of the band's biggest songs. In 1989, the series finale of "Miami Vice" used their 1985 hit "Bad Attitude."
Meanwhile, Grehan's song "What Does It Take" was featured in the 1986 romantic comedy "Once Crazy Summer," starring veteran actor John Cusack.
Joining the iconic singing competition was a "full circle moment" for Marlene. Before, she used to watch her father on stage, and now, Grehan watched her sing before a crowd.
The band has strongly expressed its support for Marlene's dream. They even shared her songs and asked fans to donate to the young star's crowdfunding effort to help release her first EP.
HOW DID LEAH EVOLVE DURING "AMERICAN IDOL"?
Marlene has undergone quite a meaningful transformation over the entire season of "American Idol;" even pop singer and judge Katy Perry noticed the young musician's evolution.
At the start of her audition, Marlene wore a hip, boyish outfit with a signature bucket hat. Later, the young lady showed grace and class with her outfit choices, revealing another side of herself during the competition.
Marlene admitted that she cherished every moment of her transformation, even if others thought she looked different. She explained that she is the same person that joined and appeared on the show.
She also felt the collective support of her family and hometown, as well as her burgeoning fan base. "This is a very overwhelming time, but in all the best ways," she said.