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Leona Louise Lewis (born 3 April 1985) is an English pop and R&B singer–songwriter. Lewis rose to fame in 2006 as the winner of the third series of the British television series The X Factor.

Lewis has become a multi-platinum selling artist and three time Grammy Award nominee. She has released two albums to date, Spirit and Echo, in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Spirit became the fastest-selling debut album and the biggest seller of 2007 in both the UK and Irelandmarker, and made Lewis the first British solo artist to top the Billboard 200 with a debut album. Her second album, Echo, was released in November 2009.

Lewis's debut single "A Moment Like This" became the fastest selling UK single after being downloaded over 50,000 times within thirty minutes of its release. Her second single, "Bleeding Love", reached number one positions in over thirty singles charts around the world. In November 2008 she set a record in the UK for the fastest selling download-only release with her cover version of the Snow Patrol song "Run" which sold 69,244 copies in two days. In November 2009, the first set of dates for her 2010 debut world tour were announced.

Lewis has sold over 7 million albums worldwide.

Early life

Lewis was born in the London Borough of Islingtonmarker, to Aural Josiah "Joe" Lewis of Guyanesemarker descent and Maria Lewis of Welsh descent. Her parents enrolled her at the Sylvia Young Theatre Schoolmarker, and from there she attended the Italia Conti Academy and the BRIT Schoolmarker, where she learned to play instruments such as the guitar and piano, and began to write her own songs in the hope of becoming a singer-songwriter, writing her first full-length song at the age of 12. She initially trained in opera, but went on to singing jazz and blues, eventually leading to popular music, citing Minnie Ripperton, Eva Cassidy and Stevie Wonder as her main influences. After leaving the BRIT School at 17, she took a number of jobs to fund studio time, recording a demo album called Twilight. The album, comprised almost exclusively of her own compositions, was recorded under Spiral Music, a production company based in Fulhammarker. "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", said Lewis. Other demos were recorded under licence from UEG Entertainment, later included on an album called Best Kept Secret. However, none of Lewis's demos were released and she considered taking a hiatus from her music career to attend university until her boyfriend persuaded her to enter The X Factor which subsequently severed her connections with UEG.

Music career

2006: The X Factor

Lewis auditioned for the third series of The X Factor in 2006, singing "Over the Rainbow". She was mentored by Simon Cowell and was announced the winner on 16 December 2006, winning a £1 million recording contract.

Lewis's debut single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This", was released on CD on 20 December 2006, and was available as a digital download from midnight on 17 December. It broke a world record after it was downloaded 50,000 times in thirty minutes. On 24 December, "A Moment Like This" was crowned the 2006 UK Christmas number-one single, having sold 571,253 copies, outselling the rest of the Top 40's sales combined. The single became the most downloaded song in 2006; it stayed at number one for four weeks and stayed at the top spot in the Irish Singles Chart for six weeks. It went on to sell in the region of 830,000 copies.

2007–2009: Spirit and international breakthrough

In February 2007, Lewis signed a £5 million ($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 was sent out revealing that 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, entitled Spirit, which was released in November 2007. The album 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. 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. To date the album has sold over 6.5 million copies worldwide and has a 9× platinum certification in the UK.

Lewis recorded tracks for the album in Londonmarker, Miamimarker, Los Angelesmarker, New York Citymarker, and Atlantamarker, where she worked with several songwriters and record producers including Dallas Austin, Walter Afanasieff, Salaam Remi, Steve Mac, Stargate and Ne-Yo. Two further tracks were recorded in 2008 for the US release of the album: "Forgive Me", produced by Akon, and "Misses Glass", produced by Madd Scientist.

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 October 2007, Lewis appeared on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, with acoustic performances of "Bleeding Love" and a cover of Snow Patrol's 2003 single "Run". She won 'Newcomer of the Year' at the 2007 Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year Awards, and 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.

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.

Lewis performed at the MTV Asia Awards 2008 where she won the award for Breakthrough Artist, and 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 Londonmarker 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. She won two awards at the 2008 MOBO Awards: Best Album for Spirit and Best Video for "Bleeding Love".

"Forgive Me" was released as Lewis's fifth single in November 2008; it reached number five in the UK. A special edition of Spirit was re-released in November 2008 in Europe, including the songs "Forgive Me", "Misses Glass" and a studio version of "Run". The album again went to number one in the UK Albums Chart. "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 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. 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 and number 33 on the Pop 100. In December 2008 Lewis was named 'Top New Artist' by Billboard magazine.

In November 2009, almost a year after it's release, Run had sold over 600,000 copies, earning platinum certification.

2009–present: Echo and world tour

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 Angelesmarker and took nine months to produce. It is said to be "more guitar-driven" compared to Spirit. One of the albums's songs, "My Hands", appears as the theme song to Final Fantasy XIII s North American and European release.

The first single to be released from Echo is "Happy", which was written by Lewis, Tedder and Evan Bogart and produced by Tedder. The single was released on 15 September 2009 and Lewis performed it live on America's Got Talent, and on the VH1 Divas concert on 17 September 2009, where she also performed "True Colors" as a duet with Cyndi Lauper.

In 2009, Lewis co-wrote a song with Billy Steinberg, Josh Alexander and Ruth-Anne Cunningham entitled "Perfection", which appears on the album Ready for Love by Thaimarker singer Tata Young. Lewis has also recorded the theme music to the upcoming science fiction film Avatar, directed by James Cameron. The song, "I See You", received input from James Horner and Simon Franglen, both of whom worked on Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" for Cameron's previous film, Titanic.

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.

Lewis performed her first full UK show at the Hackney Empiremarker in London on 2 November 2009, performing songs from Spirit and Echo. She plans to start her first world tour supporting Spirit and Echo in May 2010, which is reported to be lasting 14 months. It is said that Lewis has hired choreographer Travis Payne for the tour, which is reported to have a Labyrinth theme. Her label have apparently said that money is no object.

Other activities

In October 2008, The Times reported that Lewis had turned down a $1 million deal with Mohamed Al Fayed to open a Harrodsmarker sale. Lewis commented in the press 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. She told The Big Issue, "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 is in the late stages of releasing her own perfume for Europe.

Lewis signed a book deal in January 2009 to release an illustrated autobiography in October 2009. The book, entitled Dreams, contains mostly pictures taken by photographer Dean Freeman.

Personal life

Lewis lives in Hackneymarker with her boyfriend Lou Al-Chamaa, an electrician, whom she has known since she was approximately ten years old. She has a tattoo of Hebrew letters on her left wrist, symbolising her relationship with Al-Chamaa. A vegetarian since she was 12, Lewis won PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian along with Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis in 2008, and again in 2009 with actor Scott Maslen. She also was named PETA's Person Of The Year for 2008. Lewis is a supporter of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

At a book signing for Dreams on 14 October 2009 at the Piccadillymarker branch of Waterstone's book store in central London, Lewis received a punch to the head from Peter Kowalczyk, a 29-year-old man from south London. Eyewitnesses say Lewis ran out with her hand covering her face, whilst security wrestled the attacker, who was reportedly laughing, to the floor. The police were called immediately to the scene and Kowalczyk was arrested. Lewis suffered bruising and was taken to a private doctor as a precaution. She cancelled a scheduled appearance on the BBC's The One Show and a two-day promotional trip to Germany. She later released a statement, saying "Thank you so much for your support, it is truly overwhelming. Yesterday was a horrible shock and left me extremely hurt and upset. I'm very sorry to those I wasn't able to meet at the signing. Thank you again for all of the lovely messages. Love you all." Kowalczyk was subsequently sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He is charged with common assault, for which he was due to appear before City of Westminster magistrates on 26 October 2009. The case was adjourned untl 23 November as Kowalczyk was "not fit to attend court". It was reported that he had a history of health problems and may have attacked Lewis due to jealousy, as he had attempted to enter The X Factor but was rejected by producers.


Studio albums


Awards and nominations


External links

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