Leslie Grace Showcases Her Roots During Hometown Show | #iHeartUnfiltered

By James Dinh

September 6, 2017

#iHeartUnfiltered gives fans an exclusive glimpse at a day in the life of some of your favorite stars. From behind-the-scenes photos to candid quotes, iHeartRadio's series is all about providing readers with a one-of-a-kind look into the routines of the rich and famous.

It takes more than just vocal talents to be a rising star in today's climate. You need a look. You need the personality. You need a narrative. Thankfully, Leslie Grace checks all those boxes and is moving forward with her budding career. After Spanish-language collaborations with Maluma and Wisin, the 22-year-old is looking to expand beyond her Latin-American audience with her third studio album, which is due later this fall. 

Just last month, Leslie teamed up with iHeartRadio to be the first artist as part of the new "Mi Música" concert series, where she took over our venue for her first hometown show in quite some time. As you may have predicted, her sizzling one-hour concert turned into a family affair as some members caught Leslie perform for the very first time. See what happened when the Latin sensation hit our venue in our latest installment of #iHeartUnfiltered!

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5:19 PM: Despite a delay in arrival, Leslie Grace is all smiles as she greets the iHeartRadio production team, who is in charge of her evening show. It's an important night as she's set to debut music for the very first time. Still, Leslie shows no signs of nerves.

5:20 PM: After entering her dressing room, where background dancers are preparing accordingly, National Photo Director Katherine Tyler and I exchange pleasantries with the 22-year-old star. "You guys look so cool," she says. It's a friendly exchange, which provides insight into her spunky and friendly nature that she'll showcase later on in the night.

5:24 PM: For the first item on her agenda, Leslie stands tall and poised in front of a white backdrop as Photo Editor Rachel Kaplan takes a few photos. Still, the excitement for the evening is hitting her. "I have been rehearsing all week," she gushes.

5:30 PM: Shortly before her first on-site press interview, I sneak in a couple of minutes with the star, where she explains that learning to own up to her feelings and say no has positively impacted her womanhood and new music.

5:39 PM: 103.5 KTU's Lulu and Lala arrive in the green screen room for a brief interview and ask Grace about her cover of the late, great Selena's "Si Una Vez" alongside Play-N-Skillz, Wisin, and Frankie J.

"Selena is personally someone huge, and I always say it. There's people on our team that have worked very closely with her in her life on this world, in this wonderful world. We really wanted to make it right. When I was in the studio, I felt that responsibility to pay her homage as best as I could," she explains. "To get that feedback and see how much people have enjoyed it, it's been great."

6:03 PM: After a quick walk back to the iHeartRadio Theater lobby, Leslie makes sure to cater to her core audience with a string of Latin-American based outlets, including People en Español.

6:22 PM: Talk about fashion comes into play in another interview since the show is presented thanks to JCPenney. What's her favorite fashion trend at the moment? Well, it's sort of a classic. "My favorite trend at the moment still is jean on jean. I actually started [to answer] a few of the questions that [JCPenny] asked for the event tonight. JCPenney's asked me, "What were your favorite trends as a kid?" It was definitely jean legging," she recalled. "Now, I see it creeping into my style today."

6:34 PM: Leslie has one more press stop with iHeartRadio's Ellie Lee before she starts rehearsing. Even after an hour of non-stop interviews, the star maintains her casual, but cool attitude. During their chat, she reveals that the show will actually serve as the first time some of her family has even seen her perform. "This is home for me. I haven't performed in New York in a while. A lot of family that hasn't even gotten the opportunity to ever see me live is going to come out tonight. They're going to be able to see me," she explained.

6:44 PM: Shortly before soundcheck, Leslie comes across the host of the evening: iHeartLatino's Enrique Santos, who shares his excitement for the evening milestone. "I'm happy for you," he says with a hug.

6:49 PM: Beyond all the chatter, Grace's installment of "Mi Música" is all about, well, the music and she's ready to tackle a lengthy soundcheck. After greeting her five-piece band, she dives deep into the show set and makes a few changes to choreography with her two backup dancers. 

7:50 PM: Immediately after her soundcheck, she heads out into the lobby for a scheduled meet and greet with fans. Since this is a hometown affair, it shouldn't be too surprising to see friends, but she does come across one female friend in particular, who prompts the squeals. 

8:26 PM: As the venue begins to fill, RuPaul's Drag Race alum Jiggly Caliente makes her way into the building with a small group, proving that Grace's appeal extends far beyond the Latin-American audience.

8:44 PM: Back in the dressing room, Leslie Grace's family is putting the finishing touches on her look for the evening. It's a full on makeover, with newly styled haired, a fresh face of makeup and a dazzling ensemble. Before we depart each other, I ask how she's able to put on her game face and appear genuine to so many different people. Truth be told, you learn a lot about the (sometimes) nasty side of celebrity after working with so many. Grace is an exception. 

"I've always been comfortable talking to people. My family's very ... [When] we have guest in the home, you play host," she explained. "We are used to that and family's used to prying, but it terms of press, it's something that I've gotten used to more and more."

9:01 PM: Enrique Santos opens the show with a brief introduction, which includes the appearance of her cousin, who holds a bouquet of flowers in hand. "Well, let me tell you the truth. I'm super happy [for her]. That's my cousin. I just spoke to her today," he tells Santos, before she kicks off her 60-minute show with a brand-new song called "Regalito."

9:05 PM: "It's challenged me to grow as a person, as an artist to write about things that I lived, and I think it was necessary for me to take out that much time," Leslie tells the audience about taking a break to make her forthcoming album, which is due this fall. 

9:07 PM: Just as she promised, Leslie jumps into more new music with an uptempo dance track called "Something About You," which she says she recorded when she was in her feelings. Tossing off her jacket aside to reveal a shimmery backless top, she's joined for a short choreographed routine during the hook's explosive instrumental break. 

9:17 PM: Leslie turns up the heat for her one-hour show with the unveil of a Reggaeton-charged cut featuring Wisin called "Dulce." Even though she's already collaborated with Maluma on "Aire," Lesie says this is an important collaboration for her upcoming project. Yes, it sounds just as sweet as candy.

9:21 PM: Leslie shows her versatility for the greats by performing a stellar Bachata reimagining of The Shirelles' 1960 classic, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" 

9:40 PM: At this point in the show, her love and admiration for Selena is put front and center when she turns "Si Una Vez" into a scorching ballad with the help of her accompanying band. 

10:01 PM: After finishing up her set with "Duro y Suave," Leslie is full of appreciation for the moment. "We have family out here. Everybody's family here," Leslie tells the crowd as she accepts multiple bouquets of flowers from her cousins and talks a walk off stage.

For more on Leslie Grace's upcoming album, make sure you follow her on Instagram.

Photo: Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio

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