Leah Marlene, a Normal native, made it to the “American Idol” finals, earning a return to her hometown on Tuesday as part of the show’s production.
The 20-year-old performer sang Carrie Underwood’s “I’ll Stand By You” and Journey’s “Separate Ways.” Her name was chosen as one of three finalists by the audience.
Judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, as well as a raucous throng of fans who assembled for a watch party at Normal West High School, where Marlene graduated in 2019, praised her performances. Marlene’s father and brother, Derry and Shea Grehan, joined them for a portion of the night, thanking the town for its support.
“She understands she’s already won,” remarked Derry Grehan, the lead guitarist of Canadian rock band Honeymoon Suite, alluding to his daughter’s increased visibility and popularity. “… We’ll cross our fingers, but it won’t matter since Leah is amazing. She is doing well.”
After her final performance, Richie assured Marlene that she, like the other top five contestants, will be able to have a career in music.
He told her, “Your career is right in front of you, my love.” “Take it easy on this one.”
Her homecoming visit is likely to feature a procession and a free performance, according to details released Sunday night.
Is it a song you composed yourself?
In the first part of the program, Underwood acted as a celebrity coach, communicating with each artist in video clips broadcast before their performances. Part of the song was performed by Marlene and Underwood, with Marlene emulating Underwood. Following the performance, Perry informed Marlene that the song had been modified from a ballad to “like, a drama ballad.”
“Did you make that tune from scratch?” said Perry “It was as if I had never heard it before.” The competition had become more fierce, the judges said following Marlene’s second performance. Marlene expressed her gratitude for the event on social media earlier in the day.
“Before we get started, I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to perform another concert tonight,” she said in an Instagram video.
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“These tunes make me so happy. I’m ecstatic that I get to do this once again.
“Obviously, it’s easy to worry about the result of anything, but I believe that what was meant to be will be, and I’m just going to go out there tonight and give it my best.
Marlene was raised in Normal, Illinois, with a musical upbringing and began playing at the age of nine in uptown Normal. She got her start at events like the Sugar Creek Arts Festival and the Sweet Corn Circus.
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The journey of Marlene to the top three on American Idol.
“Right now, more than anything, I have a complete community cheering me on,” Marlene remarked in the video. “Thank you so much for that; it’s been quite helpful.”
Marlene’s cheerful attitude radiated across the arena, eliciting a sea of smiles. Marlene’s down-to-earth manner, according to Dayna Brown, a representative for Unit 5 schools, is part of what makes her unique.
“It’s one of the things that makes this so thrilling.” Brown said that “the Leah you see on American Idol is Leah.” “It’s her. She’s as authentic as it gets.”
Marlene’s rise to the top three on American Idol, according to Brown, has been fascinating to witness. Not just because of Marlene’s achievement, but also because of the good it has done for the neighborhood.
“We’ve just come out of such a weird period, and it’s so great to see the whole town put on yellow and show their support, and just celebrate something so joyous, so good, and so exciting,” Brown added. “I believe it has brought the community together.”
Marlene’s return to Normal will be marked with a procession and a free performance on Tuesday, according to Brown. The locations and times will be finalized.