American Idol contestant Leah Marlene from Central Illinois impresses judges

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Leah Marlene is a rollicking American Idol contestant from Central Illinois.

She will perform on the hit show this Sunday.

ABC7's Hosea Sanders interviewed the rising star, who shared how she felt when she first walked into the room and saw the famous judges.

"When I opened the door, I was just ready to party. I was like, this is fun, I'm just gonna have fun and enjoy this," Marlene said.

Marlene tried out in Nashville, although she grew up in Illinois. Marlene spent much of her junior high years in Chicago playing travel hockey.

Auditioning felt natural for the singer, who says music is the family business--her dad is in an 80's rock band.

"Man, I've been watching the show since I came out of the womb, pretty much, I've loved the show forever... When I went into the audition, I felt like I'm doing that for my people who have been there since day one, I just hope that I make them proud," Marlene said.

Marlene did more than make her family and friends proud; she managed to impress the judges-- in particular, Katy Perry.

Marlene's new album "Many Colors" just dropped. So along with Idol, she's hitting the high notes!

"This is such a cool experience, I'm geeking out. It's been the most fun I've had in my entire life, it's been awesome," she said.

For Marlene, sharing her music with the world is a dream come true.

"I love people, that's a huge part of why I do music, I love sharing music with people and connecting with people, and the idea of having more and more people to do that with is thrilling to me," Marlene said.

You can root for Marlene on Sunday, 7 p.m. CT on ABC.
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