Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, it seems as though Leah entered the world with headphones on. Her mother Janine would often sing to her, while her father (rapper Left Gunnz) taught her the art of rap. That duality would follow her through childhood. “My parents always surrounded me with music and people doing music,” she remembers, “always making it a huge part of my life. Newark’s art world is amazing. I started networking with the community very early, performing in showcases, open mics, and stuff like that. I got myself involved with the help of my mom.”
At nine years old, she attended summer camp at Newark Symphony Hall, later taking part in the Special Ensemble, a gospel group consisting of 12 kids between the ages 9-15. After being together for only nine months, they went on to win a Gold medal in the 2011 McDonald’s Gospelfest Children’s Group category. “I was about 14 when I had the realization to make solo music,” Leah explains. Her brother joined the cast of Broadway musical Kinky Boots and so for nine months, Leah traveled with her family on the show’s national tour and witnessed the performing arts in real time on a regular basis. “The show is about being yourself, so seeing [the cast] express themselves made me come out of my own shell and really realize that this is what I wanted to do full-time,” she admits. “Prior to that, I didn’t take music as seriously as I could.”
When she returned home from the tour, she knew where her heart truly lied. “When I got home, I had songs written, ideas for projects, I was working with different people through posting videos online,” she says. “I was ready for whatever.”
Leah continued her competitive streak, auditioning for The Voice in 2015, along with Apollo’s Child Stars of Tomorrow the following year, where she won first place three times in a row. In 2017, Leah dropped her debut EP Life W.T.R. described by Leah as a “compilation of different genres ranging from R&B, hip- hop, soul, and pop. It tells the story of different things that I learned through music, going through the motions of life.” The project enhanced her buzz, through her authenticity and undeniable sound.
However, once The Four: Battle For Stardom happened, it was game over. “It blew my career up, honestly,” she explains. “It kind of grew me up pretty quickly. That jump from 17-18 felt like five years. I learned so much. It helped me to take my craft seriously while people started taking me more seriously.”
Leah Jenea has an undeniably classic sound mixed with a modern twist. As she reaches the next phase in her career, her mission remains intact. “My goal is to bridge the gap between old soul music and new soul music,” she says. “I want to bring back music with substance. It’s coming back slowly, but I’d definitely like to be that glue. Heart vector created by upklyak - www.freepik.com