Leanne Robinson shone from her first appearance on The X Factor 2012. She has an amazing voice but for some reason, she was hidden in the edits from there on in - we hardly saw any of her, which seemed to destine her to a future outside of the live shows.
Some said she was robbed of air time at the Judges' Houses stage of the competition, some debated how she could've been this year's wildcard, but none of this followed. So mobo.com tracked Leanne down and gave her a good quizzing:
We've seen you on The X Factor, but we don't know that much about where you came from - can you tell us about how you got into singing? Tell us about the real Leanne...
This is going to sound a little cliched but, I've been singing all my life, as early as I can remember. At age 9 I was the youngest member of the adult choir at my church and sang on big stages like the Barbican in front of hundreds of people. I also grew up watching my older sister sing in a group and would sit in there rehearsals silently singing along and then getting told off and chucked out when I got carried away and started singing too loud.
So as I got older I continued singing in the choir, and went to any and every performing arts club around, that my parents could afford. Performing and creative expression was always where I felt most comfortable and had the most fun. Then at 12 I met my vocal trainer who later became my mentor, a dear friend and so much more. She was the first person who really took an interest in my singing and invested time and money into my development as an artist. She took me to my first studio session, a day I will never forget. The song I sang was a song she had written called, 'Sending My Love' and when I heard the play back, I became so overwhelmed and emotional that I broke down in tears; at the time I couldn't quite understand why I was crying but now I know - it was because at that moment I felt like I was meeting myself for the first time through music, and actually saw that my dream could one day become a reality.
I continued singing and training through school and then went to The BRIT School at the age of 16, another suggestion from my vocal trainer where I spent two of the most fun years of my life. I went onto university, studying Music and Entertainment Management. I felt it necessary; if I was serious about music and this business, I thought it best to learn about it and not just step into it blind.
Now I'm 22, and I've been working with my management for almost three years now. It's been one heck of a journey and I look forward to where the road is going to lead next.
A lot of people have been saying you were unfairly edited out of the Judges' Houses stage of The X Factor - yet they were blown away by your performance on The Xtra Factor. Has the experience left you with a bad taste in your mouth?
If I said I didn't feel anything I'd be a liar. I do feel like I wasn't treated fairly and got the least air time out of the final six girls, but I try not to dwell on it. I just allow it to fuel me and believe one day I'll get the air time I deserve.
How was Tulisa as a mentor? How closely did she work with her contestants?
I couldn't tell you... I didn't get far enough to actually have her as a mentor but, the little time I did spend with her in the beautiful island of St. Lucia she was very nice, down to earth and welcoming. She ate dinner with us, came and said hello to us individually and just encouraged us to do our best, so I imagine that she is very supportive and close with the artists she is now mentoring.
What's happened for you since The X Factor?
Since the whole experience I've been doing a lot of live performances and interviews. I'm still in shock at how big an influence The X Factor has on the world of music and entertainment - people love to talk about it.
I've had a lot of pictures taken, and received many congratulations and had pointed fingers and whispers from people on the streets. It's crazy that people who haven't ever met you - who saw you for all of 30 seconds on TV - really hope, wish and support you. People have told me their children cried when I didn't get through, and I couldn't believe or understand it. I was truly touched and it gave me a new level of determination and also made my dream that much bigger. When I started singing I just wanted the dream for me, then as I grew a little bit more I wanted it for myself, my family and closes friends. Now, I feel like I need to do it for all those people who wanted me to go through, the ones who cried for me, the ones who were ready to spend their money voting and most importantly for everyone who said that I inspired them by going for it and motivated them to be brave and find the courage to reach for their dreams.
What are you currently working on? What's coming up this year?
For the rest of the year I am promoting my first EP 'Exhibit A' which you can all download for free from my website. I'm also working on the next one, 'Exhibit B', which will be out some time next year.
Can you give us three behind-the-scenes facts about The X Factor that we didn't know?
Fact 1: The 'Judges' Houses' was not Tulisa's house, but in fact a really nice holiday resort.
Fact 2: They give you spending money when you're at judges houses
Fact 3: We didn't actually get to make the chocolate on The Xtra Factor... It was pre-made for us!
Who or what inspires you - musically or otherwise?
Musically I'm inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Prince and Stevie Wonder, to name a few.
Outside of music, figures such as Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela really inspire me. They're strong characters that had such an impact through their lives and made a change to situations. That encourages me as an artist and I hope through my music and the life I live that I can help bring positive change to people.
What does MOBO mean to you?
I remember the MOBO Awards coming up in one of my lectures at university and for the first time I really delved into the meaning, where and what it came from and the purpose behind it. Being an artist of ethnicity I'm proud, that in some small way I'm apart of the cause and reason that the MOBO Awards was birthed. I think it's so important to represent and acknowledge 'Music of Black Origin' as it influences so many of the greatest artists this world has ever seen - and is still heavily influencing the music we love and hear today. Before it, there was nothing like it in the UK - I feel that the MOBO Awards gave artists just like me a platform to be noticed, acknowledged and respected.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to audition for next year's X Factor?
Go there with an open heart and mind, and remember that not every rainbow you choose to follow will have a pot of gold at the end. Don't let the competition define you; go there knowing exactly who you are as an artist and no matter what happens, stay true to that.