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Leland teen lands recording deal after winning national contest

First single “Champagne (feat. Quavo)” makes social media splash
Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 8:05 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Leandra Carroll is one in a million.

The 17-year old Leland native recently won the “Step up to the Mic 2020” contest sponsored by Triller. Think of the contest as an online version of “The Voice” – contestants performed original music that they uploaded to the Triller app; users of the app then cast their votes.

“I think like a million people entered.” Said Carroll, who is known as “Kidd Lee” professionally. “It’s crazy to think that I won.”

Contestants were able to upload a 90 second video in early May, and then the waiting began for Lee.

“Two months after.” Lee said. “It caught me by surprise when I got the email that I made it, I didn’t think that I was going to make it.”

After making the cut, Lee advanced to the top 30, then on to the top ten and final three before learning that she was the winner.

“I was very nervous the night before and then like, I’d say, an hour before the Zoom call I prayed to God, I was like please make me be the winner. Got on the Zoom call and it happened.”

As the grand prize winner, Lee received up to a one-year record label and management deal, a chance to record original songs and shoot a professional music video.

“It was like a 12-hour day but I could have kept going.” Lee said. “It was actually fun. It was an amazing, amazing experience - something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The video shoot in Atlana came a few months after her initial visit to Hollywood and her first meeting with Quavo. “We did a song me and Quavo. I did about about four or five songs and was in the studio until about three o’clock in the morning.”

The first single released by Kidd Lee is “Champagne (feat. Quavo)” and much like the contest she won, the song and video are making a splash on social media. The video has nearly 100-thousand views on YouTube since mid January, her Instagram page ballooned from a few hundred followers to more than 13-thousand, and people are using her song for dances on Tik Tok. It’s a lot to take in for a teenager from Leland who got her start singing in her church choir.

“I didn’t expect the video to be like that.” Lee said. “I didn’t expect to blow up on social media like I am now. It’s a lot. I didn’t expect any of this to be honest.”

The bright lights and social media influence are well removed from where it all started for Leandra Carroll. As a seven-year-old she sang in her church and also learned to play the trumpet, now she’s inspired by beats that get the creative juices flowing.

“Usually I’ll hear a beat before I write, and it will spark something.” Lee added. “I take a lot of notes, write down my ideas and it goes from there.”

Where it goes is still uncertain thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Charlene Bryan, Kidd Lee’s manager, is working to plot the journey which, for now, will continue to be blazed on social media.

“Yeah, social media is massive when it comes to promoting an artist, especially during a pandemic.” Bryant said. “The benefit is when you have a lot of followers you become an influencer and that’s how you get brand deals and essentially make money.”

At the moment it’s about making music, which is no problem for Lee. She already treats her per passion like a profession knowing the more she’s able to put herself out there will help the bottom line down the road.

“I work all the time, like on music.” Lee said. “So I have a lot of songs. I plan on doing more music, even more, and my manager said we’d be traveling a lot more in 2021 doing more stuff.”

Her manager agrees. “I feel like even if traditional touring is not back in full swing by the end of the year I do believe there will be something in the live streaming space that we’ll be pivoting to.” Bryant said.

When that pivot happens, it could turn Lee into a household name.

“I mean, she’s phenomenal.” Bryant said. “The people that have reached out to me, which have been other rappers, other people on the business side like myself, everyone is blown away. Everyone is legit blown away because everyone is excited to see what comes next from her.”

“It’s very life changing, something that I never expected to do ever in my life, it’s crazy. I’m getting more following and recognition, people are starting to like my music a lot more. I’ve always wanted a career in music, and this is my chance.”

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