Leah LaBelle Vladowski (born September 8, 1986), better known as Leah LaBelle, is a Canadian R&B singer, currently signed to Epic Records/So So Def Recordings. LaBelle was the twelfth place finalist on the third season of American Idol, as the wild card selection of Paula Abdul. She is recording her debut studio album. She also gained popularity and a large following by posting YouTube cover videos, for several years.
LaBelle, born Leah LaBelle Vladowski on September 8, 1986 in Toronto, Canada, is the only child of Troshan and Anastasia Vladowski. Troshan and Anastasia, musicians and immigrants to the United States, defected from communist Bulgaria during a tour of Western Europe in 1979 with the Bulgarian pop music groups Srebyrnite Grivni and Tonika. LaBelle graduated from Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington in 2005 and attended performing arts school, Berklee College of Music, in Boston, Massachusetts.
LaBelle has been performing, singing and dancing, publicly since 1990 but marks 1993 as the start of her pursuit of a music career. In 1997, LaBelle won the Washington State Pre-teen Miss America Pageant and was first runner-up in the National Pageant. In 1998 she joined Total Experience Gospel Choir and the Langston Hughes musical, Black Nativity over the following five years. In 2000, LaBelle was part of the WAM Network children's reality show, Caught in the Middle and continued on the show for two seasons. In 2002, LaBelle won the Grand Prize at KUBE 93.3 Summer Jam Idol and was the opening act at Summer Jam 20.
LaBelle gained public recognition on the third season of American Idol. She auditioned in New York City, at the age of 17 singing "I Believe in You and Me," a song popularized by Whitney Houston and received a golden ticket to Hollywood. However after making it to the semi-finals, she was not one of the two top vote getters in her semi-finals and did not make it.
Labelle was brought back for the wild card show and was selected by Paula Abdul to advance to the finals. After performing during the Top 12's soul Week, she received the lowest amount of votes and was eliminated from the show and did not qualify for the American Idol US Tour. Her rendition of the soul classic "Betcha by Golly, Wow" by The Stylistics was included on the Season 3 American Idol finalist compilation album American Idol Season 3: Greatest Soul Classics.
Songs performed on American Idol (televised):
"I Believe in You and Me" - Whitney Houston Audition,
"Please Mr. Postman" - The Marvelettes Hollywood Group Performance,
"I Have Nothing" - Whitney Houston Semifinals, 3rd Group,
"Let's Stay Together" - Al Green Wild Card Show,
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" - The Supremes Soul Week,
2004-2011: Career continuation & Youtube success:
After Idol, LaBelle returned to Seattle to finish high school. In October 2004, LaBelle collaborated on a record album, Volume 7 of "Christmas in the Northwest" featuring singers and songwriters from the Pacific Northwest to benefit Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Centers in Seattle, Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland and Children's Miracle Network in Spokane. She sings one track, titled "Christmas Time," which was written and produced by Casey James.
In 2005, LaBelle pursued a management contract with Sixthboro Entertainment of New York City and recorded a demo with Andreao "Fanatic" Heard.
In 2008, Keri Hilson hired LaBelle as a background vocalist after hearing her Youtube cover of her song "Energy," which resulted in a mentor type relationship between the two. Hilson invited LaBelle on tour with Robin Thicke, LaBelle was quoted saying "She's brought me along with her and allowed me to see into the industry a little bit deeper than I already have". This also led to touring as a background vocalist for artists such as Jordin Sparks,Jonas Brothers and Eric Benet. She also appeared in the music video for Sparks's SOS (Let The Music Play) single in 2009, after building a lasting friendship with the singer.
2011-present: Major label signing and debut studio album:
In 2011, LaBelle signed a joint deal with L.A. Reid and Epic Records, Jermaine Dupri's So So Def Recordings and Pharrell Williams's new label I Am Other.
"Sexify" was released in March 2012 as LaBelle's debut single and leading from her debut album, receiving high praise from R&B fans for its throwback sound. The music video for "Sexify" was shot the weekend of March 24, 2012 in Los Angeles.
On April 19, 2012 a "Welcome to NYC" dinner party was thrown by Williams and Dupri in honor of LaBelle at "Catch" Restaurant in New York City. Williams and Dupri also presented her to the public with a live performance at popular NYC lounge "W.I.P."
On May 1, 2012 a 5-track sampler of LaBelle's debut album was released to the internet featuring the songs "So Hot", "Make Me Get Up", "What We Got To Lose", "Mr. Scissors", and the leading single "Sexify" all productions by Dupri and Williams. On May 4, 2012, Cosmopolitan Magazine announced they would be giving away free MP3 downloads of "Sexify" to new subscribers of LaBelle's mailing list. The music video premiered on MTV.com on May 9, 2012, cameo appearances include Dupri as LaBelle's landlord, Williams as a pizza delivery guy and friend singer/actress JoJo. "Sexify" was released to iTunes on June 19, 2012