Friday, August 24, 2007

Leona Lewis - The Next International Superstar

Leona Louise Lewis (born April 3, 1985 in Islington, London) is an English singer and songwriter, who was the winner of the third series of The X Factor. Her debut single, "A Moment like This" was released on 20 December 2006.

The single was also available as a digital download from midnight on 17 December and broke a world record after it was downloaded fifty thousand times in thirty minutes. Her debut album is due for release on 5 November 2007. Lewis is the first winner of a major television talent show in both the UK and USA to be given a major global launch with the release of the album.

Leona Lewis was born in Islington, London, in 1985 to Joe, an Afro-Caribbean and Marie Lewis, of Anglo-Welsh descent. She is the middle child of three, with two brothers, Kyle, who is younger, and Bradley, who is older.They grew up in Highbury and went to school at Ambler Primary School in Finsbury Park. Lewis wrote her first song at the age of twelve,and at the age of thirteen she won the Lady D under-eighteen talent show at the Hackney Empire.

She attended the Sylvia Young Stage School,Ravenscourt Theatre School[citation needed] and the BRIT School.Although her big passion is singing, she is also a keen dancer and actress. Before auditioning for The X Factor, Lewis recorded a demo album of her own songs called Twilight, but the album was never released.
Lewis now lives in Hackney.

She has been with her boyfriend Lou Al-Chamaa since she was seventeen.Prior to winning The X Factor, she worked as a receptionist for Head & Short Chiropodists in Stoke Newington High Street.She had also worked in Pizza Hut as a waitress.
When Lewis was fifteen years old she recorded a version of Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You" with music producer Marley J. Wills. Wills went on to say that "She was young and innocent but very much able. Even then she had a very good voice. We started putting tracks together straight away." ... "Leona could hit the notes and I think she did it better than the original."

The X Factor

In 2006, she auditioned for the third series of The X Factor, singing "Over the Rainbow". She made it through to the final stages and was announced the winner on 16 December 2006, winning a £1million recording contract.She was mentored by Simon Cowell. During the show, her vocal talents were consistently highly praised by all three judges (Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne), and on occasions was compared with divas such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. All three judges also commented on how the British music industry needed a singer like her, and that her performances were world class. Walsh remarked that her performance of "I Will Always Love You" was as good as Whitney Houston's version. In week 3 (Big Band week), Lewis sang "Summertime".

Following her performance, Cowell said, "You are, absolutely, the best contestant I have ever had across any of these shows, and that was an amazing performance."
The only criticism Lewis received, both by the judges and in the press, was related to her confidence. On the 9 December show, Cowell remarked that her performance of "Over the Rainbow" was the best he had ever witnessed. Cowell also commented throughout the show that Lewis's lack of awareness as to how good she is, is what makes her special. On the final night of the show, Take That joined Lewis on stage for a duet of their song "A Million Love Songs".

After the performance, singer Gary Barlow told Cowell, "This girl is probably fifty times better than any other contestant you have ever had, so you have a big responsibility to make the right record with her."Lewis went on to win the competition, receiving approximately 4,800,000 (60%) of the 8,000,000+ votes cast.

Post-X Factor career

One million copies of the winner's single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's first single "A Moment like This", were pre-ordered by stores, making it an almost certain number one before it was released, although at the time, the winner of the show had not been announced and it was unknown who would be releasing the single, a source of controversy for those who suggest it is the show which sold the single, and not Lewis.

On 24 December, "A Moment like This" was crowned the 2006 UK Christmas number-one single, having sold approximately 571,000 copies, beating Take That's single "Patience", and outselling the rest of the Top 40's sales combined. It has been reported that one chain was "shifting more than 100 of her CDs a minute".The single became the biggest downloaded song in 2006, beating Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy". The single stayed at number one for four weeks, and also stayed at the top spot in the Irish Singles Chart for six weeks.
In February 2007, Lewis signed a £5 million ($9.7 million) contract in the US, with Clive Davis, founder of Arista Records.Davis has been responsible for the success of Whitney Houston. Houston is reported to have said that Lewis will be an international star and has offered to mentor her and Lewis is now hoping they will record a duet.Lewis will now release five albums worldwide through Davis's label, J Records.

She celebrated her record deal by showcasing for several American music executives at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California,where she sang "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", "Summertime" and "Over the Rainbow". One executive described her as "the lovechild of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey".
A four-track download EP, "It's All for You", that she recorded before entering The X Factor went on sale online on 18 December 2006. However, it was banned from several online stores by her record label, Sony BMG, meaning the single could not chart.

Lewis was scheduled to make a performance on the current series of American Idol to help her launch her career in the US. She would have appeared in the semi-finals of the hit show, and made her first performance of her second single, produced by Dallas Austin,but was sent back to the UK due to suffering from tonsilitis.

On 16 January 2007, Lewis's single "A Moment like This" was shortlisted for the British Single award at the 2007 BRIT Awards. It made it to the second round but was eliminated and did not make it to the final selection. In May it was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Best Selling British Single.
On 15 March 2007, Lewis performed in front of Charles, Prince of Wales at the UK finals of The Prince's Trust RBS Celebrate Success awards at the Barbican Centre in London, which were hosted by June Sarpong.She presented the award for "Young Achiever Of The Year" and also performed "Over The Rainbow".

On 2 June 2007, Lewis performed at a special This Is Your Life for Simon Cowell,singing "Somewhere" with Il Divo. Gary Barlow is now reported to be writing a song for Lewis, following his praise for the singer during the final of The X Factor.Danny Jones of McFly has also stated that he would like to write her a song. On 25 April 2007, a press release was sent out revealing that Simon Cowell and Clive Davis would work together in a first-of-its-kind partnership on both the song and producer selection for Lewis's debut album.The album was said to have a September 2007 deadline,however the album will be released on 5 November 2007. Lewis has been writing and recording in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Georgia with American songwriter and record producer Dallas Austin.She has also worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Max Martin, Stargate, Damon Dash,Walter Afanasieff and many more, and has befriended Kanye West during the recording of the album. The album was completed in August 2007.

Forthcoming debut album

A press release announced that Lewis' next single, "Bleeding Love", written and produced by Ryan Tedder, will be released on 29 October 2007 in the United Kingdom, and early 2008 in the United States. Lewis will perform the song on the first live show of the fourth series of The X Factor.The single has been confirmed by Leona's official website along with the release date for her album.

1 comment:

julesman said...

Great summary... can't wait for the album later this year... and I hope the Duet with Whitney comes to fruition !