American Idol 2022 contestant Leah Marlene from Central Illinois prepares for the finale

Sunday night we’re going to find out who the next American Idol is.

One hopeful, Leah Marlene, hails from Central Illinois and made the top 3.

She’s impressed the judges at every turn this season of American Idol, and now the Normal, Illinois native is gearing up for Sunday’s live season finale!

ABC7’s Hosea Sanders spoke to her about the amazing journey to the finals.

Sanders: “When they called your name as one of the top three finalists, that reaction, I’ve never seen anything like it!”

Marlene: “I didn’t feel anything at all. I was in overdrive – I was totally shocked. In the 24 hours before, I felt like I knew so deeply that I wasn’t going to move forward. The night before, I had a good cry at my hotel that I had to process and then in the day I showed that I was an emotional mess.

Sanders also asked her about the big hometown parade in Normal earlier this week. Huge crowds come out to see the Idol finalist.

Sanders: “I want to talk about home, how was your hometown visit, it just looked amazing!”

RELATED: Finalists Noah Thompson, HunterGirl and Leah Marlene prepare for the ‘American Idol’ finale

Marlene: “Oh my god, I don’t even know how to explain it. My brain still couldn’t calculate what was happening in front of me. It was just absolutely insane. I didn’t expect so many people to show up, it was an endless pool of people.”

Sanders: “What would you like to say to all of your fans here in Illinois at home?”

Marlene: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, it’s not about me, it’s about you. I’m there for you.”

Sanders: “You are already our winner.”

RELATED: Central Illinois American Idol contestant Leah Marlene impresses the judges

Marlene: “I’m so eternally grateful to have shared with America, and I want to do that for the rest of my life.”

You can watch Idol live on ABC7 on Sunday nights at 7pm

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All rights reserved. American Idol 2022 contestant Leah Marlene from Central Illinois prepares for the finale

Dais Johnston

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