‘Idol’ Star Leah Marlene’s Career Just Skyrocketed in 10 Dizzying Days

Leah Marlene and Trent Harmon on USS Truman

U.S. Navy "American Idol" stars Leah Marlene and Trent Harmon aboard the USS Truman, July 2022.

It’s been less than two months since Leah Marlene placed third on Season 20 of “American Idol,” but the singer-songwriter from Normal, Ill., has wasted no time leveraging her newfound fame, jumping into one life-changing opportunity after another.

Over the last 10 days, Marlene has made three huge career moves: completing a “mind-blowing” overseas concert tour for the U.S. Navy, signing with an artist management agency, and setting out for a new life in Los Angeles. Read on to go behind the scenes of her life-changing decisions.


Leah Marlene and Trent Harmon Set Sail With U.S. Navy

Leah Marlene performs aboard USS Truman

U.S. NavyLeah Marlene, her dad, and former “American Idol” winner Trent Harmon perform aboard the USS Truman on July 10, 2022.

Marlene set out on July 5 for a previously-unannounced acoustic concert tour with“American Idol” Season 15 winner Trent Harmon at several overseas Naval bases and aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. Posing that day for an Instagram photo with her luggage and the sun rising behind her, she wrote, “En route to Europe this morning to play a few shows for the U.S. Navy! I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to see what beautiful people and memories this week has in store!”

The trip was fraught with travel delays and lost luggage, though. Marlene and Harmon made it to their first tour stop on July 6 in Souda Bay, a base on the island of Crete, Greece. She posted an excerpt on TikTok of the pair singing the classic Journey song “Separate Ways,” accompanied on guitar by Marlene’s dad, HoneymoonSuite guitarist Derry Grehan.

The threesome was scheduled to move on to Sigonella, Italy, for a July 8 evening performance. But on July 7, Marlene shared via her Instagram Stories that they were “stranded in Athens for the night,” which caused the next concert to be delayed and relocated. After a layover in Munich, Germany, Marlene posted two more updates to her Instagram stories, writing that after 32 hours they’d arrived for their next gig without their luggage, joking that they’d have to play in the same clothes they’d been wearing for nearly two days.

According to a press release from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF), Marlene and Harmon spent three days aboard the USS Truman, and performed a concert of original songs as well as covers that the sailors could sing along with. Marlene posted an Instagram video from the stage, with a packed room of sailors cheering.

“It’s been mind-blowing being here,” she told the audience. “Everything that I see just opens my eyes to what you guys do out here. It amazes me to see how sailors can live on a vessel out at sea for months at a time. I already had a tremendous amount of respect for what you do, but it’s even more so now.”


Marlene Lands Management Deal & Returns to Hollywood

As soon as Marlene returned home, she had to focus on big changes ahead for her life and career. While she was overseas, Madison House — a music management and booking agency — announced via Instagram it had inked a management deal with the “sought after” singer-songwriter. Marlene now has a booking agent with Madison House who will handle arrangements and promotions for Marlene’s future appearances. Her Navy touring partner, Trent Harmon, is also signed to the agency, along with past ‘Idol’ stars Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Kris Allen, and Maddie Poppe.

Marlene has stated multiple times on social media that she can’t wait to play more shows stateside, including a “Homecoming Concert” in her hometown of Normal, Ill. on August 27. The nearly sold-out show at Corn Crib Stadium will also feature Poppe and Marlene’s dear friend and fellow Season 20 “Idol” finalist Fritz Hager.

That concert will require Marlene to travel from her new home base. That’s because her third major career move this month is an actual move to Los Angeles. On July 14, she posted an Instagram Story with a photo of a floor full of boots, clothes, and hats, captioned with the words “leaving for la la land tomorrow.” The following morning, she posted a video to her Stories from her front yard in Normal.

“Greetings everybody,” she began. “It’s sprinkling out. My hair is very flattering and we’re packing up my little car with my life, and then we’re going to drive 30 hours.” She then gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to the camera.

Marlene hasn’t shared what her plans are once she arrives in L.A., but she’s scheduled to open for the band Carbon Leaf at Troubadour, an alternative music venue in West Hollywood, on Oct. 5.

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