Many will recall Leah Jenea from her dazzling debut on Fox’s The Four: Battle For Stardom, where she
wowed the judges as one of the show’s youngest competitors and quickly rose to become a fan favorite.
Her 2018 was filled with well-deserved success, though her 2019 is about to one up the previous year. As
Leah Jenea readies her upcoming EP Leah Meets Nina, the 18-year-old upstart is geared to craft music
that melds the old school with the new school.
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
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.”
In the midst of her growing fame, Leah met hip-hop legends Kay Gee and Vin Rock of Naughty By Nature
through her father. While the rap veterans took an interest in her sound, they weren’t sure she was ready
until a clip of her song “Pulse” hit Instagram. “That’s when they knew it was time,” she says, becoming
part of the Illtown Sluggaz collective and appearing on the track “On It.” Now managed by both her
parents and the Naughty icons, Leah is geared to level up with her Slugga Music/Cinematic Music Group
release titled Leah Meets Nina.
Leah Meets Nina reflects that continued balance as Leah Jenea delivers a striking project harnessing the
power of Nina Simone with her own authentic style. It started as a mixtape to test the waters for her
career, though once the music industry caught wind, Leah was urged to make it a full-fledged project. She
struck a deal with Cinematic Music Group, and the rest is history.
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.”