“I feel like my dream has come true; the dream I've been dreaming since a little girl has come true.” Leona Lewis
British pop and R&B singer Leona Lewis first gained the spotlight as the winner of the third series of the British television talent show "The X Factor" in 2006. Following the release of her record-breaking debut single in the United Kingdom, "A Moment Like This," Lewis was given a major global launch with a debut album titled "Spirit." The album eventually rose to #1 in the United World Chart and spawned the biggest selling single of the twenty-first century, "Bleeding Love," which helped catapult her toward worldwide superstardom. Lewis is now working on a second album scheduled to be released in November of 2009.
“I gained confidence coming here every week and seeing the audience and that has made me come more out myself. Through performing, that's how I've gained confidence.” Leona Lewis (about 'The X Factor')
This 5' 7" singer, who has been a vegetarian since she was 12, was named the Sexiest Vegetarian of 2008 by PETA, along with “Red Hot Chili Peppers” member Anthony Kiedis.
“I wouldn't lose weight for my career and I wouldn't have surgery either. I'm happy in my own skin. You have to be healthy and I'm proud of my curves.” Leona Lewis
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of Aural Josiah Lewis, a Guyanese Afro-Caribbean youth worker, and his wife Marie Lewis, a social worker, Leona Louise Lewis was born on April 3, 1985, in Islington, London, England. She has two brothers, Bradley and Kyle.
At the age of five, Leona attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, in Marylebone, London, and later the Italia Conti Academy and the BRIT School, and The Crescent, in Selhurst, London, where she was a classmate of Katie Melua.
Leona lives in Hackney with her boyfriend Lou Al-Chamaa, an electrician of Syrian-Arab descent whom she has known since she was approximately ten years old. Her close friend is “Sugababe” Keisha Buchanan.
Leona has a young Rottweiler named Rome. She has been a vegetarian since she was 12, doesn't drink alcohol, and practices belly dancing to keep fit.
“I do belly dancing. It’s great for your abs. My mum used to teach ballet and always told me to work out doing something I enjoyed. I would try pole dancing.” Leona Lewis
The X Factor
Writing her first song at the age of twelve, Leona Lewis, whose favorite artists include Whitney Houston and Roberta Flack, won a number of talent competitions, most notably the “Lady D Under 18 Talent Show.”
After leaving school, Lewis, who recorded a version of Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You" at 15, took on a number of jobs to pay to get into a recording studio. She initially considered placing her music career on hold to attend an university until her boyfriend persuaded her to compete in the British television music talent show “The X Factor.”
In 2006, Lewis auditioned for “The X Factor” (2004) in London, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Lewis, who was consistently praised by all three judges and was compared with divas such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion, eventually won the competition and received a recording contract.
“Winning 'The X Factor' would be like a dream come true. It would mean the world to me and my family.” Leona Lewis
Mentored by “The X Factor” creator Simon Cowell, Lewis recorded and released her first single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This," on December 20, 2006. It was downloaded 50,000 times within 30 minutes after being available online, making it the fastest selling download to date and the biggest selling download in one week. It was crowned the 2006 U.K. Christmas #1 single on December 24, 2006, and was awarded platinum status by the British Phonographic Industry in January 2007. The single was shortlisted for the British Single award at the 2007 BRIT Awards and was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for Best Selling British Single.
It was followed by "It's All for You," a four-track download EP that Lewis recorded before appearing on "The X Factor." The unofficial single was released as a download-only single on December 18, 2006, through The Schizofreniks record label, but it was unable to chart because it was banned from several online stores by Lewis' record label, Sony BMG.
Lewis' international breakthrough came in February 2007 when she signed a $9.7 million five album contract in the United States with Clive Davis's record label, J Records. Her debut album, "Spirit," was released on November 9, 2007, and debuted at #1 in nine countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. The lead single "Bleeding Love," a pop ballad written by Ryan Tedder of "OneRepublic" and Jesse McCartney, was released on October 19, 2007. It rose to #1 in over 34 countries, became the biggest selling single of the 21st century, and eventually became #1 on the United World Chart.
The next single, a double A-side featuring "Better in Time" and "Footprints in the Sand," was released in the United Kingdom in March 2008. The songs peaked of #2 on the U.K. singles chart and sold over 40,000 copies in its first week of physical release. It peaked at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The following single, "Forgive Me," an R&B song with a shuffle dance groove co-written by Aliaune "Akon" Thiam, was released on November 3, 2008, and rose to #5 in its first week of release in the U.K.
When asked why she named the album "Spirit," Lewis explained, "[Because] it is my heart and soul and the voice within that says everything is possible."
About recording her debut album, she revealed, “I’ve been treated as my own person. I’ve not been given a formula to follow. I had the time to find my feet and co-write a lot of material.”
Meanwhile, Lewis performed "Bleeding Love" on the seventh series of "American Idol" and at the finale of “So You Think You Can Dance Australia” on April 27, 2008. She also sang the song at the MTV Australia Awards 2008 and "Bleeding Love" and "Better In Time" at the 46664 Concert in Hyde Park, London, which celebrated the 90th Birthday of Nelson Mandela.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in Beijing, she performed "Whole Lotta Love" with guitarist Jimmy Page of "Led Zeppelin" and then joined Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Rihanna, Ciara, Beyonce, and many other female singers to perform a single for the anti-cancer campaign "Stand Up to Cancer." She also made a surprise performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, performing "DontGetIt," alongside rapper Lil Wayne.
Lewis recently performed her cover of Snow Patrol's "Run," which has been recorded for the deluxe edition of "Spirit," on "The X Factor," and sang "Better in Time" at the 2008 American Music Awards. She is now working on a second album scheduled to be released in November of 2009.
World Music Awards: Best New Artist, 2008
World Music Awards: Best Pop Female, 2008
Glamour Women of the Year: UK Solo Artist of the Year
Ivor Novello: Best Selling British Single, "A Moment like This," 2007
The Record of the Year: "Bleeding Love," 2007
Virgin Media Music: Best Track, "Bleeding Love," 2007