Gone Too Soon: 5 Things To Know About R&B Singer Leah LaBelle
As the NBA community mourned the loss of Rasual Butler, the music community offered condolences to his wife Leah LaBelle, who was also a talented singer-songwriter.
On Wednesday (Jan. 31), it was reported the couple were involved in a fatal car accident. Before LaBelle’s marriage to Butler, the 31-year-old was on the rise in the R&B world following her stint on American Idol.
Here’s some tidbits about LaBelle’s journey, as well as her finest covers, below.
Leah Got Her Start On American Idol, But Music Was In Her Soul
LaBelle was just 17-years-old when she appeared on the third season of American Idol, but always had an appreciation for music. During her audition, the teen shared that her parents were also musicians who used their talents to escape the country. They raised her in America, settling in Seattle after living in Canada. At 15, she joined the Total Experience Choir, where her interest in gospel and soul music sparked.
She made a big impression on Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson with her soulful voice and powerful renditions of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” and The Supreme’s “You Keep Me Hanging On.” LaBelle placed twelfth in the competition with Fantasia Barrino winning the season.
Her Covers Of India.Aire, Musiq Soulchild & Jazmine Sullivan Gained Her A New Fanbase
Just a few years after her stint on American Idol, LaBelle made a splash on the web. The early days of YouTube were a blessing to singers like LaBelle, who used the platform to her advantage to cover R&B jams from Jazmine Sullivan (“In Love With Another Man”), Etta James (“I’d Rather Go Blind”) and India.Aire (“Ready For Love”).
Keri Hilson Helped Leah Tour With Jordan Sparks and Robin Thicke
In 2008, Keri Hilson hired the singer as a background vocalist after hearing her cover of “Energy.” The gig allowed her to tour across the country with Robin Thicke, Jordan Sparks, The Jonas Brothers and Eric Benet. It also gave her a chance to have a mentor in the industry. “She’s brought me along with her and allowed me to see into the industry a little bit deeper than I already have,” LeBelle said at the time.
Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri Were Big Fans
She found more mentors in Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri. In 2011, she signed to Epic Records/So So Def Recordings, along with a deal with Williams’ “I Am Other” label. Both super producers contributed to her new music. The single “Sexify” served as her debut single in 2012.
Speaking to Karen Civil the same year, the singer gushed about her mentors being cameos in the music video. “Yeah, that was pretty awesome,” she said. “It was cool to have them there and to support me. It was jokes because Pharrell didn’t say anything in his part. He laughed and told me that he didn’t even get to say anything but I thought it was awesome. Also, with JD, he was dressed down with nothing. You know, he always wears sunglasses but he didn’t wear them and put on a wife beater. It was fun to have them there to support me on my day.”
A five track EP was also released featuring the tracks “So Hot”, “Make Me Get Up,” “Mr. Scissors” and fan favorite, “What We Got To Lose.”
She Reportedly Had Plans To Release More Music
With her debut album never released, there was plenty more magic from LaBelle to uncover. The singer was reportedly working on music but it’s unknown if it will ever see the light of day.