NAME: Leona Lewis
BIRTHPLACE: Islington, London, England
HOMETOWN: London, England
MUSICAL STRUGGLES: Leona Louise Lewis was driven to music at a young age when her parents sent her to the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, she wrote her first song at the age of twelve and after many years of schooling, Leona worked constantly to get her into various recording studios to ful-fill her passion of music. Working odd jobs, Leona recoded a number of tracks for her never-to-be-released demo album, Twilight. After many years and auditions to record labels, Leona almost gave up until a opportunity suggested by her boyfriend would lead her to becoming a break-out star.
X-FACTOR: In 2006 during the third season of The X Factor, a very American Idol-like show aired in the UK, Leona auditioned singing the popular Judy Garland tune, “Over the Rainbow”. While being mentored by Simon Cowell, she made it to the final stage of the show and was announced as the winner. Cowell went on to say that Leona’s rendition of Eva Cassidy’s version of “Over the Rainbow” was the best he had ever witnessed. One of Leona’s most memorable performances was when she performed “Summertime”, to which Cowell told her, “You are, absolutely, the best contestant I have ever had across any of these shows, and that was an amazing performance.”
A SONG LIKE THIS: Later that year, after winning a £1 million recording contract from The X Factor, Leona’s debut , a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s first single “A Moment Like This”, topped the charts in late 2006, breaking a world record after being downloaded fifty thousand times in just thirty minutes. This only proved what everyone already knew — this girl is going to be a star. The song sold nearly 600,000 copies which led to being the biggest downloaded song in the UK for 2006, beating Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”.
TEDDER & McCARTNEY: While writing and recording songs for his third album, singer, Jesse McCartney penned the track “Bleeding Love” with OneRepublic front-man Ryan “Alias” Tedder, who also produced it. After the process was complete, McCartney realized it didn’t fit the musical direction he was headed and the song was given to Leona. Promoted as Lewis’s second single from her outstanding debut album, Spirit, she performed it on the first live showing of The X Factor during it’s fourth season in late 2007. After her performance, the single sold over 66,000 copies that first day and went on to win The Record of the Year 2007 award.
ONE TO WATCH: Nowadays, Leona has been nominated for four BRIT awards and is being dubbed as the “the next Mariah Carey” in Entertainment Weekly as part of their “8 to Watch in ’08” feature. She’s preparing to launch “Bleeding Love” off of Spirit in the states and rumors state she’ll appear during the seventh season of American Idol this year.
– Courtney Justice, January 2008