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Ben Mulroney, the host of Canadian Idol, offered encouragement, support and praise for Ashley Leitao on the popular television show.

Photo courtesy of CTV/Canadian Idol

Burnaby's Ashley Leitao undaunted by Idol loss

Ron Devitt, staff reporter

Ashley Leitao's Canadian Idol days may be over, but her singing career has only just begun.

Leitao, the 18-year-old retail sales clerk, will return to Burnaby and her family Saturday after garnering the fewest votes following Tuesday's episode of the popular television show.

"I don't know exactly what I want in my future but it's going to be exciting and challenging and awesome," Leitao told the NOW Thursday from Toronto. "I'm definitely going to pursue my singing career and writing more and doing my thing."

Leitao's departure leaves eight contestants remaining.

Leitao said the experience, which began for her with an audition in Vancouver in February, has left her bursting with creative energy.

"I just really think this is a really great time to be writing stuff down and making some great music," she said. "It's given me strength and it's given me a chance to know myself as a musician and a singer."

She said the experience has given her the confidence she needs to pursue her career and has given her many more connections within the music industry.

"I feel closer in my life in what I want to achieve as a singer," she said.

She said the enormity of her achievement hit her when she made the top 10 finalists in June.

"I was proud of myself for making it through each round and I'm proud of myself and blessed and feel so privileged."

She also saw the writing on the wall after she finished singing Sir Duke this week during a Stevie Wonder tribute episode.

"My life flashed before my eyes," said Leitao, adding she flashed back to her first audition in Vancouver. "I actually felt it was my time to go. After the performance I went home and started getting my things together. There's only one Canadian Idol and that's the reality of it."

Leitao has no inside information as to who she sees winning the whole thing out of the four remaining men and four women.

"I think every single one of them have the ability to win this," she said. "And I think all of them can have success in the music business. I just wish them all the best."

She has spoken to her dad and her brother and is looking forward to coming back to Burnaby and seeing her family and her supporters.

"They're all very extremely happy for me," she said. "They've been supporting me throughout this whole journey."

And she was appreciative of the support given to her by people in Burnaby, the province and the country.

"I'm a Burnaby girl at heart and couldn't ask for anything more from the people there," she said. "I don't think I could have asked for better support."

Leitao took the long route to qualify for the Canadian Idol series. After finishing second at the unrelated Burnaby Idol competition last winter, she brought her singing voice and stage presence to the preliminary Canadian Idol auditions at Canada Place in February, where she won a gold ticket and qualified as one of the top 187 contestants in the country.

published on 07/30/2005

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