Marriani Fleming

Marriani Fleming has been singing for as long as she could talk.

“Music was always just a really big part of my life,” Marriani said. “I was 2 years old when I crawled on a piano for the first time. My mom was like, ‘It was so weird, you didn’t slam the keys, you just pressed on them and listened to the sound.’ ”

Twenty years later, Marriani is hoping to make music her full-time career. One of her biggest encouragements came in the fall of 2022 when she was contacted by a producer at American Idol and invited to audition for producers of the show. There were four rounds of Zoom auditions – then they flew her to Nashville to audition for the judges – Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. She sang “In the Kitchen” by Renee Rapp, and the judges sent her to Hollywood.

“I didn’t make it past Hollywood Week, but the experience was surreal and definitely worth it,” she said. “I met a lot of really cool people. The contestants were all super nice and super talented and really supportive. And I still talk to them.”

For as awesome as it was, it was also exhausting. When she came home, she decided to focus on writing and building her repertoire. She’s written two albums’ worth of songs.

One of her favorites is “Echo” – it’s one she’s planning to sing at Oaklawn’s Got Talent. When she wrote it, she had just gone through a painful breakup.

“My breakup was really fresh. It was horrible, like, I don’t know if I’m going to make it out alive,” she said. “I sat down at my piano and that’s the first line, ‘It’s pathetic, honestly, the kind of girl I used to be, would never sit here crying at the piano.’ When I wrote it, I was being real with myself, being honest about where I was in processing the breakup and asking questions that I needed to ask but obviously couldn’t ask him.”

All her songs feature that kind of honesty – it’s therapeutic for her personally – and it’s one of the things she admires about music generally: How someone can write a song that expresses the exact feeling someone else is experiencing. And, audiences connect with her music in that way.

“Music is so powerful, whether you’re happy, sad, angry, whatever emotion you’re feeling, there’s a song for it,” she said. “I try to write so when people listen, they can feel my heart, but also see themselves and relate and find some comfort and healing in knowing they’re not alone.”

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