Illinoisan Leah Marlene places 3rd in American Idol: 'This show has changed my life'

NORMAL, Ill. (WLS) -- ABC7 has followed Leah Marlene throughout this season of American Idol, all the way to the finale.

The singer from Normal, Illinois placed third on Sunday night. Noah Thompson won, but she told ABC7 just having this experience is the best reward.

"I'm exhausted but feeling just so, so grateful and so excited for what's to come," Marlene said. "It was like, 'It's all going to be over. This is our last show, our last time watching my friends. We grew up on this show.'"

She talked about singing onstage with Katy Perry.

"Just standing there, next to Katy, we're both turned around looking at the screen," Marlene said. "And my dad was on stage, so it was everything all at once, so I was like 'what is happening?'"

Marlene also discussed the visit to Normal, her hometown.

"Normal showed the frick up it was absolutely insane," she said. "It just hits you how far I've come. This show has changed my life in every single way."

Marlene said she was ready for a loss on the big stage.

"I felt that in my gut that was going to happen and I was ready for it and just grateful. The numbers did not matter last night," Marlene said. "Now, it's like into the unknown today and I definitely did wake up this morning with a deep sinking feeling in my gut, like 'Oh, my God. I'm terrified."

Marlene asked the people who have been following her journey to stick around.

"Stick with me. This is where the real work starts and this is where I really need you guys the most, going out into the real world and doing this thing for real," Marlene said. "I'm so excited for what's to come and I love you and I can't do it without you."

Next, Marlene wants to hit the road for a concert tour, including Chicago.

he'll also be leaving Normal for either Nashville or Los Angeles.
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