|Birth name||Leona Louise Lewis|
3 April 1985 |
Islington, London, England
|Associated acts||Ryan Tedder|
Leona Louise Lewis (born 3 April 1985) is a British singer-songwriter and actress. She was born and raised in the London Borough of Islington, where she attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. Lewis achieved national recognition when she won the third series of The X Factor in 2006, winning a £1 million recording contract with Simon Cowell's record label, Syco Music. Her winners single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This", peaked at number one for four weeks on the UK Singles Chart and it broke a world record for being digitally downloaded more than 50,000 times in 30 minutes. In February 2007, Lewis signed a five-album contract in the United States with Clive Davis's record label, J Records (now RCA Records).
Lewis's success continued with the release of her debut album, Spirit, in 2007; it went 10x platinum in the United Kingdom, while the lead single, "Bleeding Love", spent seven weeks at number one. She achieved international recognition with the album in 2008, when she became the first British female to top the US Billboard 200 album chart in more than 20 years. Spirit has sold more than eight million copies worldwide, and "Bleeding Love" peaked at number one in over 30 countries, becoming the best-selling single of 2008 worldwide. As a result, she was proclaimed 'Top New Artist' by Billboard in 2008. Under the guidance of Cowell and Davis, Lewis released her second UK number one album Echo and recorded the theme song for the film Avatar in 2009, while embarking on her first UK arena tour, The Labyrinth, in 2010.
In 2011, Lewis released the non-album single "Collide", a collaboration with Swedish DJ Avicii, and her first extended play, Hurt: The EP. Her third album, Glassheart, was released in 2012. It marked a new creative direction for Lewis, drawing inspiration from dubstep and electronic music. However, it failed to match the commercial performance of her two previous albums, peaking at number three on the UK Albums Chart and becoming her first to not be certified platinum. Lewis began to record material for her first Christmas album during her Glassheart Tour, which took place in mid 2013. Christmas, with Love was released later that year. Its lead single, "One More Sleep", peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart. With this chart entry, Lewis broke the record for British female solo artist with the most UK top five singles, with a total of eight, surpassing Olivia Newton-John's record of seven.
With a career spanning eight years, Lewis is the best selling act to have emerged from The X Factor, with over 20 million albums sold worldwide, as well as being the British female solo artist with most weeks at number one in the United Kingdom. Lewis has won two MOBO Awards, an MTV Europe Music Award, an MTV Video Music Award and two World Music Awards. She is also a six time Brit Awards and three time Grammy Award nominee. Lewis is famed for her expansive four octave mezzo-soprano vocal range, power, technical control and use of the falsetto register. Aside from her musical career, Lewis is a philanthropist and an animal welfare campaigner for World Animal Protection. She is also a vegetarian.
- 1 Life and career
- 2 Artistry
- 3 Awards and honours
- 4 Activism and other activities
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Filmography
- 7 Discography
- 8 Tours
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Life and career
1985–2005: Early life and career struggles
Leona Louise Lewis was born in the London Borough of Islington on 3 April 1985, to her father Aural Josiah "Joe" Lewis, a youth offending officer and DJ of Afro-Guyanese descent, and her mother Maria Lewis, a social worker and former ballet teacher of Welsh, Irish, and Italian descent. Lewis has two brothers, an older half-brother named Bradley and a younger brother named Kyle. As her parents began to realise Lewis's passion for singing, they enrolled her at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, and later to the Italia Conti Academy, the Ravenscourt Theatre School and the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology until they could no longer afford to do so, making cutbacks when necessary in order to help their daughter achieve her dream of being a singer. Lewis wrote her first song at the age of 12; she initially trained in opera, before moving into jazz and blues, and eventually into popular and contemporary music.
At the age of 17, Lewis decided to leave BRIT School in order to "get out there" and pursue a career in music. By this point, she had already begun to write and record her own material, and worked as a receptionist at a solicitors office and a Pizza Hut waitress in order to fund the studio sessions. At age 18, Lewis secured a lead role in The Lion King theatre show in Paris; however, she decided to turn the part down after she hurt her back while ice-skating.
She recorded a demo album called Twilight in collaboration with Spiral Music, a production company based in Fulham, however it failed to secure Lewis an album deal with any record companies. Although the album was never released commercially, Lewis performed a couple of the tracks live on the Radio 1 music station in 2004. Another demo album was recorded under license from UEG Entertainment called Best Kept Secret, who have reportedly claimed to have spent £70,000 trying to launch Lewis's career with no success. A track from the album called "Private Party" became a hit on the underground urban music scene in London in 2005. Speaking about her struggle to secure a record contract, Lewis said "I tried to secure a record deal by doing things my own way. I worked very hard but I never managed to land a contract. That's why I decided to audition for The X Factor. It's programmes like these which provide the best place to showcase fresh new talent."
2006: The X Factor and debut single
Lewis auditioned for the third series of The X Factor in 2006, singing "Over the Rainbow" for judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and guest judge Paula Abdul. She was eventually placed in the girls category, with Cowell as her mentor. Throughout the course of the show, Lewis was compared to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion (as well as other artists), performing songs by all three of them. Lewis was eventually declared the winner of the competition in December 2006, beating runner up Ray Quinn with 60% of the public vote; more than eight million votes were cast. Her winners single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's song "A Moment Like This", was released on 17 December 2006. In the United Kingdom, it broke a world record after being digitally downloaded more than 50,000 times in less than 30 minutes. The song became the 2006 UK Christmas number-one single, selling 571,000 copies in its first week and selling more than the Top-40 combined. It spent four consecutive weeks atop the UK Singles Chart, and was number one in Ireland for six weeks. "A Moment Like This" became the second best selling single in the United Kingdom in 2006, and has been certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting shipments of over 600,000 copies. As of December 2012, Lewis's version has sold 895,000 copies in the United Kingdom. For winning, Lewis signed a £1 million recording contract with Cowell's record label, Syco Music. Upon winning, Lewis said:
I'm just shocked. It's unbelievable. I feel like my dream has come true, the dream I've been dreaming since a little girl has come true. There were points I thought, 'You know what, I don't know if this is going to happen'. But with the help from my friends and my family, they all kept telling me to believe in myself and keep on doing it and I did and now I'm here and thank you so much to them.
2007–08: Spirit and international breakthrough
In February 2007, Lewis signed a £5 million (US$9.7 million) five-album contract in the United States with Clive Davis's record label, J Records, and showcased for several American music executives. A press release described how Cowell and Davis would work together in a "first-of-its-kind" partnership on both the song and producer selection for Lewis's debut album, titled Spirit. Lewis recorded tracks for the album in London, Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, and Atlanta, where she worked with several songwriters and record producers including Dallas Austin, Walter Afanasieff, Salaam Remi, Steve Mac, Stargate and Ne-Yo. It was released in November 2007 and entered both the Irish Albums Chart and the UK Albums Chart at number one, becoming the fastest-selling debut album in both countries, and the United Kingdom's fourth fastest selling album of all time. It was released in several other nations in January 2008, and went to number one in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, South Africa and Switzerland. Two more tracks were recorded in 2008 for the US release of the album: "Forgive Me", produced by Akon, and "Misses Glass", produced by Madd Scientist. It was released in the United States in April 2008 and entered the Billboard 200 at number one, making Lewis the first British artist to reach number one with a debut album. A special edition of Spirit was re-released in November 2008 in Europe, including the songs "Forgive Me", "Misses Glass" and a cover of the Snow Patrol song "Run". The album again went to number one in the UK Albums Chart. To date the album has sold over 9 million copies worldwide and has a 9× platinum certification in the UK.
Lewis's second single, "Bleeding Love", produced by Ryan Tedder and written by Tedder and Jesse McCartney, was released in October 2007 in the UK, where it sold 218,805 copies in its first week, giving it the biggest first-week sales of 2007 to date. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number one, where it stayed for seven weeks, and in the Irish Singles Chart it remained at number one for eight weeks. It reached number one in the singles charts of New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Canada and the United States. "Bleeding Love" won The Record of the Year in December 2007. In February 2008, "Bleeding Love" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 85 and then went on to peak at number one for four non-consecutive weeks. The song became the first track by a UK female to reach number one since Kim Wilde's "You Keep Me Hangin' On" in 1987. Lewis's third single, a double A-side featuring "Better in Time" and "Footprints in the Sand", was released in the United Kingdom in March 2008, in aid of Sport Relief, and she visited South Africa for the charity. The single reached a peak of number two in the UK singles chart selling over 40,000 copies in its first week of physical release. "Better in Time" was released as Lewis's second single in the US, where it peaked at number 11 in the Billboard Hot 100. "Forgive Me" was released as Lewis's fifth single in November 2008; it reached number five in the UK. "Run" was released as a download-only single in the UK, reaching number one, and becoming the UK's fastest-selling download-only single with 69,244 copies sold in two days. Lewis's last single from Spirit, "I Will Be", was released in January 2009, only in North America; it peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. In August 2008, she performed "Whole Lotta Love" with guitarist Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in Beijing, representing the handover to London as the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
In September 2008, she joined several female singers to perform a single for the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer. The single, titled "Just Stand Up!", was performed live during the one-hour telethon that aired on all major US television networks. Lewis received three nominations for the 51st Grammy Awards in December 2008. "Bleeding Love" was nominated for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Spirit was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album. She was nominated for four BRIT Awards, in the categories British Female Solo Artist, British Breakthrough Act, British Album for Spirit, and British Single for "Bleeding Love", but despite being the favourite to win the most awards, she received none. She won two awards at the 2008 MOBO Awards: Best Album for Spirit and Best Video for "Bleeding Love". In December 2008 Lewis was named 'Top New Artist' by Billboard magazine.
2009–10: Echo and The Labyrinth
Lewis's second album, Echo, was given a worldwide release in November 2009. Production took place throughout 2009, including work with Ryan Tedder, Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, Arnthor Birgisson, Kevin Rudolf, and John Shanks. It was recorded in Los Angeles and took nine months to produce. Lewis described the album as "more guitar-driven" compared to Spirit. Lewis performed her first full UK show at the Hackney Empire in London on 2 November 2009, performing songs from Spirit and Echo. Echo reached number one in the UK Albums Chart and the top ten of Austria, Ireland and Switzerland. Despite previous attempts from Lewis's lawyers to ban the release of Best Kept Secret by UEG Music, claiming that the singer had not given her consent, the album was released in January 2009 when the label insisted it owned the rights to the music and Lewis would receive a 50% share of the album's profits. However, a television advert for the album was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, who said in a statement: "We considered that the claim 'Leona Lewis's new album' misleadingly implied it was the singer's latest recording rather than a new CD of tracks recorded some years ago." The album was released to iTunes in standard and deluxe editions, and two EPs, "Private Party" and "Dip Down"/"Joy", were released in September 2009.
The first single released from Echo was "Happy", which was written by Lewis, Tedder and Evan Bogart and produced by Tedder. The single was released on 15 September 2009, peaking at number two in the UK, and reaching the top ten in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Japan and Switzerland. Lewis also recorded the theme song for the 2009 science fiction film Avatar, directed by James Cameron. The song, "I See You", was written by James Horner and Simon Franglen. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the 67th Golden Globe Awards. Another usage of Lewis' album can be found in "My Hands", which was used in the international release of the Square Enix video game Final Fantasy XIII. In January 2010, Lewis provided vocals on a cover of "Everybody Hurts", released to help raise money for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The second single from Echo, "I Got You", was released in February 2010. In April 2010, she featured on a duet with Italian singer Biagio Antonacci, called "Inaspettata (Unexpected)", from his album Inaspettata. They performed the song on the Italian TV show Io Canto on 22 October 2010. Lewis performed a 13-piece set list at the Rock in Rio festival in Lisbon, Portugal, on 22 May 2010, including songs from Spirit and Echo.
Lewis signed a book deal in January 2009 to release an illustrated autobiography in October 2009. The book, titled Dreams, contains mostly pictures taken by photographer Dean Freeman. At a book signing for Dreams on 14 October 2009 at the Piccadilly branch of Waterstone's book store in central London, Lewis was assaulted by a 29-year-old man from south London who was arrested at the scene; Lewis suffered bruising. The assailant was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and was charged with common assault. He admitted to the offence and was hospitalised for an indeterminate period.
Lewis's first tour, titled The Labyrinth supporting Spirit and Echo, started in May 2010, with a theme based on the film Labyrinth. Lewis was scheduled to tour North America from July to August 2010 supporting Christina Aguilera's Bionic Tour, however, Aguilera cancelled the tour, leaving Lewis's plans unknown. A DVD of the tour, along with a ten-track CD, was released with the title The Labyrinth Tour Live from The O2 on 29 November 2010.
2011–13: Hurt, Glassheart, and Christmas, with Love
Lewis began work on her third album, titled Glassheart shortly after she had completed The Labyrinth tour. Though originally announced to be released on 28 November 2011 in the UK, it was eventually released in October 2012. The album was released on the RCA Records brand after RCA Music Group disbanded J Records along with Arista Records and Jive Records. Reports suggested that the album had taken a dubstep direction, with songwriters asked to submit dance songs and no ballads. Lewis described Glassheart as "energetic, deep, [and] unique" and said it would have a darker tone. She cited Tracy Chapman, Kate Bush and Tears for Fears as the album's primary influences. For the album, Lewis worked with numerous writers and producers including Ammo, Jonas Quant, Chuck Harmony, Claude Kelly, Ryan Tedder, Fraser T Smith, Al Shux, Steve Robson, Dallas Austin, Rico Love and Ne-Yo.
Lewis released a single, the dance-pop song "Collide", written by Autumn Rowe and produced by Sandy Vee, in the UK on 4 September 2011 and Germany on 9 September 2011. It debuted on the official UK top 40 singles chart at number 4. Lewis released an EP on 9 December 2011, titled Hurt: The EP, containing three covers. Lewis went on to perform on the American version of X Factor, and as the featured performer for the closing of the 2011 Doha Film Festival, where she sang ten songs, including several cover versions. In June 2012, she performed at BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend 2012 after being announced on 25 May 2011 as an ambassador for the event. It was the BBC's biggest ever free-ticketed live music event. Following the announcement that Lewis would be an ambassador, she performed a special Live Lounge at the Hackney Empire, with a reggae version of "Better in Time", which incorporated Rihanna's "Man Down", and a cover of Labrinth's "Let the Sun Shine". At the Hackney Weekend, Lewis performed further cover versions and debuted the song "Come Alive" from Glassheart.
In August 2012, Lewis announced that the lead single from Glassheart would be "Trouble", released on 7 October 2012. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number seven. The album debuted at number three in the UK and at number four in Ireland, respectively. The second single, "Lovebird", failed to reach the UK top 200 in the absence of radio support. Lewis embarked on a 16-date tour in the UK beginning in April 2013.
In February 2013, Lewis left her management, Modest! Management. It was announced that she will begin work on her fourth studio album and it will be released later in the year. In July 2013, Lewis revealed that her new studio album would be a "Motown-influenced" Christmas collection comprising both classic covers and original material. The album, titled Christmas, with Love was released on 2 December 2013 and the lead single, "One More Sleep", was released on 5 November 2013. Lewis performed the song on the semi-final of the tenth series of The X Factor on 8 December 2013. The same day, "One More Sleep" debuted at number 34 on the UK Singles Chart with Christmas, with Love debuting at number 25 on the UK Albums Chart. A week later, Christmas, with Love advanced to number 13 and "One More Sleep" climbed 31 places to number 3, making it Lewis' highest charting single since 2009's "Happy". With "One More Sleep" peaking inside the top five on the UK Singles Chart, Lewis has set a new record for British female solo artist with the most top five singles in the history of the chart, bringing her total eight top five singles. She has overtaken Olivia Newton-John's tally of seven top five singles.
2014: Film debut, new record deal and fifth studio album
On 23 September 2013, it was announced that Lewis would make her acting debut in Holiday!, a 1980s-inspired musical film. In February 2014, the film was renamed Walking on Sunshine, and it was released on 27 June 2014. Lewis has recorded a duet with Michael Bolton called "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", which features on Bolton's album of the same name, which was released in the United Kingdom on 5 May 2014. Lewis performed two songs at the FA Cup Final on 17 May 2014: the traditional pre-match anthem, "Abide with Me", and the national anthem. On 27 May, Lewis performed a cover of "La La La", a song originally performed by Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith, at the 2014 World Music Awards; Lewis was joined on stage by Naughty Boy. On 3 June, it was announced that Lewis had parted ways with her record label of seven years, Syco Music, and label boss Simon Cowell tweeted: "Congratulations Leona. We had 7 great years together and now wish you all the best for the future. You put X Factor on the map." Lewis had already secured a new deal with rival Universal Music's Island Records UK, joining artists such as Robbie Williams, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Jessie J, and has said of her joining the label: "After seven incredible years at Sony I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to sign to perhaps the most iconic label of all, Island Records."
Lewis is currently working on her fifth studio album: On 27 November 2013, Lewis confirmed to Digital Spy that she would begin recording sessions in January 2014, after she finishes promoting Christmas, with Love. She revealed that during the production of Christmas, with Love in Summer 2013, she had met with some producers to conceptualise a theme for the fifth album, but that the main focus at the time was songs for the Christmas album. With regard to style and composition, Lewis said that 2013 allowed her to become re-inspired; she stated that after recording songs for the 1980s-inspired film, Holiday!, she wanted the album to have a 1980s sound. Later, however, after she recorded Motown inspired songs for the Christmas album, it allowed her to "just get out of [her] head and go into something completely different", stating that she is now leaning towards a "retro throwback sound" for the album. Lewis stated that she has "reached out" to a couple of different people, including Bruno Mars and his frequent collaborators, The Smeezingtons. Lewis also stated that given the opportunity, she would also "love" to record a full length classical album in the future, due to the positive reception of her Classical rendition of "Ave Maria" on Christmas, with Love, which she performs in Latin. In December 2013, Lewis told Billboard magazine: "Earlier in the year, I was getting in with a few different producers, I actually got in with DJ Poet, who is an amazing producer. We did a couple of songs together, which has been really exciting. I will probably get back in and work with him again".
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Lewis possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range which spans four octaves, and has had classical training. She has stated that she practises operatic scales every week. Music critic Neil McCormick, of The Daily Telegraph, has praised Lewis's technical skills, writing, "Her mezzo-soprano range allows her to take melodies from luxurious low notes to high-flying falsetto, gliding with elegant power and impressive control through all kinds of fluctuations and modulations." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic adds, "Lewis can hit [high belted] notes but make it seem easy, never straining her voice and building nicely to the climax," continuing, "Unlike most divas, there is a human quality to her voice, as she's singing to the song, not singing to her voice". In the same vein, Slant describes Lewis's vocals as "technically unimpeachable".
Lewis commented on the musical style of her debut album describing the album as "classic songs with a contemporary edge", containing R&B and "fresh pop" styles, ballads and "soulful up-tempo numbers". It has an American style, with some electronic 1980s sounds. However, the songs are not beat-driven or following the latest trends, but are songs that can be performed acoustically. Lewis's second album "Echo" mixed pop and R&B; during an interview with Variety magazine she spoke on the album's sound saying she "wanted the album to have a little bit more of a live feel to it, with a little more live instrumentation." In February 2011, whilst talking about her third studio album "Glassheart", Lewis said the album would be more experimental than Spirit and Echo, embodying a "different" yet "classic" sound. She added, "I'm really, really excited about it. I'm working with some new producers, some up and coming people and it's going to be kind of a different sound – but still classic". Lewis described it as "energetic, deep, [and] unique". She also commented that it would have a darker tone and that she would be putting her "heart into [her] lyrics".
Lewis credits Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as her major influences. She said, "when I was growing up I used to listen to Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, those kind[s] of big powerful kind of singers so that influences a lot of my music and a lot of the songs I like to sing." Lewis cited Tracy Chapman, Kate Bush and Tears for Fears as her third studio album's primary influences.
Awards and honours
Activism and other activities
In October 2008, The Times reported that Lewis had turned down a seven-figure sum from Mohamed Al Fayed to open a Harrods sale. Lewis commented that she turned down the deal on the grounds that Harrods is the only UK department store which continues to stock clothing made from animal fur. "It wasn't a million pounds that I was offered, as the papers reported, but even if it had been, I still would have turned it down." "I got a lot of flak for that. There were people who said I should have done it and given the money to charity, but that would have been such a contradiction." She announced in October 2008 that she was in the "bargaining period" of launching her own ethical line of accessories through Topshop, and that she was in the late stages of releasing her own perfume in Europe. Her perfume, Leona Lewis, was launched by LR in July 2009. In 2010, she set up a fashion company with her then boyfriend, Lou Al-Chamaa, called LOA Clothing Ltd.
In 2011, Lewis was a guest judge on Platinum Hit, and in May 2012, she returned to The X Factor as a guest judge during auditions in London for the ninth series. In March 2013, Lewis was announced as the new brand activist for The Body Shop.
She has also shown support for Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools, by donating items for auction to raise money for the organization.
Lewis lives in Hackney. She lived with her boyfriend, who became an A&R scout for Sony records, until their split in June 2010. They had known each other since she was approximately ten years old. Since 2010 she has dated dancer and choreographer Dennis Jauch. Lewis has been a vegetarian since she was 12; she won PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian along with Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis in 2008, and Europe's Sexiest Vegetarian in 2009 with actor Scott Maslen. She also was named PETA's Person of the Year for 2008. Lewis is a supporter of World Animal Protection and is a patron of Brentwood's Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. Lewis is a supporter of Arsenal F.C.
|Walking on Sunshine||2014||Elena||Film debut|
- Hurt: The EP (2011)
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
- List of artists who have had number-one singles on the UK Official Download Chart
- List of Billboard Hot 100 number-ones by British artists
- List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance chart
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leona Lewis.|
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- Official website
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- Leona Lewis at the Internet Movie Database
- Leona Lewis on Last.fm
|Winner of The X Factor