The "air apparents": meet Cleveland's AirLeigh Legal

Stage Name: AirLeigh Legal
Real Name: Leigh Melendez
Years Active: 11 (with a 2-year hiatus)
Hometown: Cleveland
Performing in: Cleveland

Plants. Pups. Pretend guitar.

These are three things that Cleveland’s own Leigh Melendez, known in the air guitar world as AirLeigh Legal, can’t get enough of.

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“I get real satisfaction about taking a tiny seed and growing it into a vegetable. It gives me satisfaction knowing that if an apocalypse comes I'll probably be alright.” 

When she’s not getting her hands dirty and cultivating some gorgeous gardens, you can expect to see her with her beloved dogs.

“My dogs are my heart. They've been by my side through a lot and never stopped loving me. I can lay in the yard with them, let the sun hit our face, and know everything's alright.” 

But don’t let her fuzzy, wholesome obsessions fool you. This angel boasts a shadowy side, and her air guitar persona is one way she lets that side out. 

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“My character has been this dark angel. People have described me as dark and twisty, but with a bright and sunny side. Taking that beautiful angel to the metal side is how I show it on stage.”

So how did this hardcore horticulturist find her way onto the air guitar stage in the first place? Like many seasoned veterans, she was shredding invisible strings long before she knew actual competitions existed.

“I was joking about playing air guitar long before I got on stage. I used to tell my friends when I was younger I was going to hang up signs around town and have people pay me to teach them air guitar.”

Finally, after years of being the residential air guitar expert, it was thanks to an observant co-worker that Leigh finally discovered the world of competitive air guitar.

“I would play air guitar at the restaurant I worked at and my boss noticed. [He gave me] Bjorn Turoque’s (Dan Crane’s) book [To Air is Human: One Man’s Quest to Become the World’s Greatest Air Guitarist] for Christmas that year and I learned about the competition. I mean…it seemed like fate.”

It was the next year, in 2007, that Leigh decided to take her passion from the kitchen to the spotlight. As an admitted introvert though, taking the stage was challenging.

However, as soon as she felt that indescribable post-performance rush “it spilled over into my everyday life. I’m not afraid to be myself today. I take chances and I may not if I didn't take that leap on the stage for the first time.”

“I’m free as fuck.”

Watch AirLeighly Legal and other amazing competitors melt faces in person at the Cleveland Air Guitar Championships on May 11th at The Winchester Music Tavern. Or better yet, feel that post-performance rush yourself and sign-up to battle against air guitar’s own dark angel.

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Kriston Rucker