American Idol returns with an all-new episode on Sunday night, during which the reality competition series’ wraps up its final round of open call auditions. Hosted Ryan Seacrest, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan will sort through and vote on this last batch of contestants that are hoping to receive Golden Tickets to Los Angeles.
Standing out from the crowd on March 15, Grace Leer, a country singer born and raised in San Francisco, California. If her face seems familiar, it’s because she previously appeared on American Idol‘s former spinoff series, American Juniors. Now, Leer, 28, lives in Nashville where she performs with the five-piece group, The Grace Leer Band, which she formed with songwriter Kyle Clouse.
Here’s what you need to know about Grace Leer:
1. Grace Was 11 Years Old When She Competed On ‘American Juniors’
When Grace made her national TV debut on America Juniors in 2003, she sang “To Sir, With Love,” and judge Gladys Knight was a huge fan. She described her vocal talents by saying “There’s a richness to your voice and I love it!” While Grace made it through to the semi-finals, she was eliminated before the Top 10 was announced.
Grace is not the first Juniors alum to pop up Idol, three others have also made the jump including singer Julia Dubela, A.J. Melendez, and Danielle White.
2. Grace Played Division I Soccer While Studying At UC Berkeley
Many artists are so focused on their craft, they don’t have time for other extracurricular activities but for Grace, she is both artistically and physically talented. Through soccer, she earned a scholarship to attend college at the University of California at Berkeley, where she played on their Division I women’s team before graduating in 2015.
3. Grace Is Not Romantically Involved With Guitar Player Kyle Crouse
As stated on The Grace Leer Band’s official website, Grace met the man whom she would form a band with by happenstance. After Kyle Crouse, who’s a Sonoma native, played a few gigs together, they moved to Nashville and founded their five-piece band in 2017.
So, for those wondering who the guitar player is accompanying Grace during her Idol audition, it’s her trusted, longtime guitar player, Kyle. And no, they are not romantically linked. In fact, he’s engaged to fiancée, Spencer Bartoletti, who sings and plays guitar in the band Reverie Lane.
4. Grace’s Father Buzz Leer Is An Actor & Model
Leer is the youngest of four siblings and shares an incredibly tight relationship with her father Buzz Leer, who’s an actor and model represented by Gray Talent Group and Option1 Models in Chicago, Illinois. When he isn’t running marathons with Grace, he’s filming commercials, voiceovers, does theatre work, and most notably, spent five seasons as the host of HGTV’s House Detectives.
Even though Leer graduated from the University of North Dakota with a BFA in Theatre and Communications in 1973, it was decades before he truly pursued his passion. Before following his acting and modeling dreams, according to Leer’s LinkedIn profile, he was the Vice President of Sales & Market for Lenox Housewares in Philadelphia and worked for Hampton Forge in New York City.
5. Grace Almost Last-Minute Bailed On Auditioning For ‘American Idol’
While driving to the American Idol audition with Kyle, Grace suddenly grew so scared of rejection, she wanted to go back home. She described the moment on Facebook writing, “Kyle and I were an hour away from Milwaukee I wanted to turn around… I literally looked at Kyle and said ‘Let’s go back to Nashville I don’t want to do this. We can just keep doing our music there. I can’t do this’
“Kyle said, ‘No we are not doing that, we are doing the audition and everything is going to be fine.’ I had so much fear and doubt the closer and closer we got to Milwaukee. FEAR is such a real and powerful thing and it can creep in so fast. But nothing worth doing is done without fear (thanks @caleer). Being a country artist in Nashville and just being an artist in general, it is very vulnerable and scary to do what we do.”
Grace candidly revealed, “It is constant rejection, constant wondering if I am good enough, young enough, pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough to make it in this business” — thoughts shared by nearly every female artist looking to succeed as a singer. Thankfully, Grace fought through her fears, as viewers can expect to see her go far this season on Idol.
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