Transgender Singer Kaleia Wins Songbird Season 3

The third season of Songbird came to a close last night, which means we have our newest Best Singer in Philadelphia.

After 14 weeks of competitive singing, first-name-only chanteuse Kaleia walked away with the top honor. I chatted with three of the competition’s judges, singer-songwriter/supermodel Cory Wade, ukulele champ Eric Jaffe and Songbird season 2 winner Larisa Bunch, to see why they chose her among the other five finalists.

Cory Wade: “Kaleia is a class-act and a true inspiration to the Philly trans community. Right now it is crucial for the trans community to support and uplift one another in spite of the social struggles these brave people have to endure every day. I love what she represents. Kaleia is such an honest performer and it’s hard not to feel her spirit when she’s on that stage. I’m excited to see what she does next.”

Larisa Bunch: “Any of the top three could have taken the number-one spot, but I feel like Kaleia just had that little extra something that made her impossible to keep down. She had a rough week or two but she never let it keep her down. She has an amazing voice and a soaring spirit.”

Eric Jaffe: “Kaleia is a true performer. Her ability to connect to her audience is not something that can be taught; it’s a natural-born talent. She knows exactly who she is, and she takes the struggles and hardships that she has been through and turns them into something positive and magical. I am so proud of her, and everything that she represents.”

Kaleia is the first transgender singer to win Songbird. Singer Jeremy Adam took the second place prize, and Tara Hendricks came in third.

Songbird creator Josh Schonewolf is planning a headlining concert for Kaleia on April 25th, where she will perform with other Songbird season 3 competitors at L’Etage. Stay tuned for more details on that. He’s also in the planning stages of Songbird season 4, which will be back in September with 10 standout performers from all three previous seasons competing against 10 brand new contestants. “It’s going to be insane,” he says. “My twist on an all-stars season.”