One spin of Michal Leah’s music, and you’ll immediately fall in love. The Chicago native can sing her heart out, carrying an undeniable vocal range that shines bright whenever she’s on stage. Add in the fact that she’s only 19 years old… and you’ve got a superstar in the making.

Being a first generation American isn’t always easy, and certainly not when Michal has to explain to her Russian parents that she’s turning down a scholarship to college to pursue music. But thanks to one A&R at Nettwerk Music Group, Michal is currently living out her dreams as a musician. 

Ever since age 17, Michal Leah started posting covers on TikTok. Today, she boasts nearly a million followers on the social media app. In describing her sound, she states, “It’s a mix of a lot of things. It’s a mix of soul and pop… I think it’s a mix of a lot of things.”

Most recently, Michal unleashed her viral smash called “The Way I Love You,” garnering over 160 million listens on TikTok and over 1.5 million streams across streaming platforms. It even gained cosigns from Meghan Trainor and Lauren Spencer Smith.

Sheen spoke with Michal Leah in downtown Los Angeles to discuss her rise on TikTok, roots in Chicago, inspo behind “The Way I Love You,” her forthcoming single, goals, and more!

You have such a powerful voice, when did you discover that? 

Thank you so much. I’ve actually been singing my entire life, but I really honed in on my voice and my sound when I started doing TikTok. I started with covers and I was singing every single day, so I had time to discover what I was doing and what really sounded right to me and true to me.

How old were you when you started doing TikTok?

I just turned 17.

Was there a video that went viral?

Yeah actually. I had been posting every now and then when TikTok had just started, and it wasn’t as big as it was. Then I posted a cover of a Sleeping At Last song and it went viral. I’m like, this is amazing. I’m going to keep doing it. 

Did you anticipate you’d be this TikTok star?

Absolutely not. It’s so weird still, because it’s the kind of thing where you see it happening to other people. You’re like, oh, this must be so nice. So much fun. Then it happened. I don’t know, I think it’s still sinking in for me.

Do you spend a lot of time on the app?

Not as much anymore. I do have moments where I can’t get off because it draws you in. But I try not to, just because sometimes it can stump my creativity.

What was it like growing up in Chicago?

It was fun. I didn’t grow up in the city city, so I don’t have the cool story like that. I grew up in the suburbs, the northwest suburbs of Chicago. It’s so funny because it’s such a norm for me, growing up in Chicago. Then I started meeting people not from Chicago, and they’re like, “oh my gosh, it’s so cool you live in Chicago.” I’m like, what’s so cool about Chicago? [laughs] 

Being able to fly out of a big airport was so normal to me, then I went to other cities where there’s tiny airports. But no, it was great. It was definitely a lot more focused in terms of music on hip-hop, rap, R&B. That was a cool world to be in.

Are you still in Chicago?

I just moved to Nashville. It’s great. I love it. It’s a perfect mix of homey and creativity and people that love to work too.

I know your parents are Russian, you’re a first generation American. How’s that?

It’s great having parents that are from a different country. It’s so cool to see how they grew up. I definitely was raised a bit differently than maybe the average person, but it taught me a lot. It taught me a lot in music. My parents have always been super supportive of my music journey, and my brother’s also in music. It was hard at first because education is such a huge thing for them, but they’re very supportive. It’s great.

Talk about “The Way I Love You,” who or what inspired this record?

[laughs] The song is about a boy, non-enclosed information. It was the first time in my life where I felt I could write a song like that, which is such an interesting experience for me because writing sad songs is so easy and nice. He makes me feel super special. There’s really no words to describe what he makes me feel so it’s cool to be able to put it into a song. That’s the least I could do to speak about it. He loves it. I love it. Everything’s great.

The song caught the attention of Meghan Trainor and Lauren Spencer Smith. How did that happen?

I have been mutuals with them for a little bit on TikTok, we’ve been following each other for a while. I guess it got the traction that it did and somehow ended up in front of their faces. Probably a #foryou page moment. They were nice enough to be super kind about it and appreciative. I’m very lucky.

What do you want fans to get from your story?

The biggest thing I want fans to take from what I do is there’s absolutely nobody stopping you other than yourself. So the minute you let go and you seriously pursue what you want to pursue, everything will be fine. I think the point of life is to take risks. What are you here for, if you’re not taking the risks that you were meant to take?

Talk about being on tour too, with Eloise right?

Yeah, I was on tour with Eloise. It was so much fun. She is amazing. She’s a sweetheart. She’s so talented, blows my mind. Her team is great. It was super last minute, and it was great. We’re like okay, amazing. It was my first show ever, so it was really cool and a lot, but it taught me so much. I was so lucky to be there and do the 4 dates with her. It was really cool to travel to cities for music. It was also my first time experiencing traveling for shows and doing the show. It was amazing, I feel really lucky that she would have me come along with her.

What’s your favorite song performing during your show?

Probably “The Way I Love You.” That one was fun.

3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Water, coffee, then probably sparkling water.


What can we expect from “Used To It,” coming out December 16?

It’s not as happy as “The Way I Love You,” that’s for sure. But I’m excited. The song means a lot to me, and it’s a very good follow-up in terms of what I want my sound to be and where it’s headed. I’m excited for everybody to hear it.

Do you have any goals for yourself?

I have a lot. I want to definitely play some more shows this next year, maybe start doing some merch. I have a lot of ideas on my sleeve. I’m excited. I have a lot of goals for this year and the next couple of years, for sure.

Anything else you want to let us know?

If you haven’t listened to my song “The Way I Love You,” you can go listen to it on any streaming platform. Keep an eye out for some more music.