Without a doubt, this superstar has everyone bleeding for more
The international media has compared her to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Céline Dion. Without a doubt, this superstar has everyone bleeding for more. If you’re bleeding to know everything about this English rose, then read on. FACES investigates to tell you all about the spirited Leona, her amazing record breaking album, and the connection she has with vegetables, electricians and soccer players.
Super Gorgeous Judge
No, we’re not talking about a super burger from a fast food menu. We’re talking about that girl who astounded not just the judges of UK’s X-Factor Season 3 (including Simon Cowell), but well, the entire world. We’re talking about the super gorgeous, super talented, and super record breaking Leona Louise Lewis.
And it’s not just us doing the talking. In fact, the whole world can’t stop talking about her.
Born April 3, 1985, the British singer-songwriter from Hackney, East London is all the buzz. With cascading curls, voluptuous curves and mesmerising green eyes, it’s hard to deny her striking beauty. But her beauty is not what has jaws dropping to the ground (well, that’s only part of the reason): what has really thrown the world off their feet is her voice.
That voice. That control. And oh… that emotional power. Blessed with a voice of power and restraint, every song she delivers is breathtaking. Yes, Leona Lewis definitely has that X-Factor. And you can triple that X serving.
With her debut album, Spirit, Leona Lewis has already broken an astronomical number of records. Let’s just list them:
She is the first British female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard Charts. No wait. Not just the first female. She’s the first British artist ever to have a debut album at number one on the Billboard charts (yes, she beat all the guys to it!). She has the biggest digital album sales week ever for a new artist. Her album became UK’s fastest selling debut of all time. It reached number one in at least three continents and nine countries, making Lewis the most successful launch of any television talent show contestant ever.
Spirit, ladies and gentlemen, is the biggest female artist debut album since 2005.
And with that stunning beauty, it is no surprise that she is also gracing the covers of top magazines, including the cover of UK’s fashion publication like Harper”s Bazaar. US media Entertainment Weekly touts Lewis as the ‘8 To Watch in 2008’ in their 2007 ‘Entertainer of the Year’ issue, describing her as ‘the next Mariah Carey’. People Magazine labels her ‘the UK”s hottest star in an “Introducing” piece’. Vogue presents her in their ‘What People Are Talking About – The Vogue 25 Cultural Highlights of 2008.’ (So can you blame us for putting her on our cover?)
Take That, Kelly Clarkson
It’s not that we want to compare American Idol with the British counterpart (all right fine, we admit… it’s hard not to compare). After winning X-Factor in December 2006, Lewis released a single – the cover of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘A Moment Like This’. And it broke world record after it was downloaded 50,000 times in 30 minutes.
And minute by minute, the popularity continued to rise. Even though the release was a cover version of a very popular song by a very popular artist, Lewis came out of the shadows and imprinted her name all over it. A respectable feat for a new artist indeed – in fact, if you were to try and key in the words “a moment like this” into Google, you’ll find that Leona Lewis’ name crops up just as often as Kelly Clarkson’s.
In January 2007, ‘A Moment Like This’ was shortlisted for the British Single award at the 2007 Brit Awards. Although the entry was eliminated after the second round and didn’t make the cut into the final selection, that wasn’t the end of it.
The single sold a total of 571,253 copies in its first week, outselling the rest of the Top 40 combined and making it the fastest selling single in the UK by a female artist, beating Britney’s ‘Baby… One More Time’. In May it was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Best Selling British Single. By the end of the year, the single ended as UK”s second best selling single of the year, calling defeat only to Gnarls Barkley”s ‘Crazy’.
But this was just the beginning. This was just a cover. And fans were bleeding to hear the real Leona.
Bleeding For More
If just a cover single is already breaking records, what would Lewis’s first album achieve? Will it meet the hype, or will it disappoint the extremely high expectations that has already been placed above her head? The world waited. And waited. And waited.
For a while, it seemed like Lewis had disappeared. What, just a one hit wonder? It can’t be. For her fans, the wait was excruciating. But well worth it in the end.
You see, Lewis was dedicated to deliver her best, and that was why the album took so long. ‘A Moment in Time’ had actually been a rushed release, and Lewis wanted to make sure that this wasn’t the case for her first album.
She wanted it to come from her heart. She wanted it to come from her spirit. “I’m working hard to make sure that I’m around for a long time to come. It’s going to surprise people. I’ve surprised myself!” says Lewis.
And when ‘Bleeding Love’ was released the world was once again wowed. But we weren’t surprised.
A Spirited Delivery
“This album is from an honest, genuine place,” she enthuses, “I know some people are asking, ‘where has she gone?’ But I wanted everyone who has supported and worked with me to have an album they’re proud of, one that is credible and one with songs that people can connect to.”
The first single, ‘Bleeding Love’, went straight to number one, beating the previous record set by the Arctic Monkeys, who sold 363,735 copies of ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ in January 2006. It became the number one airplay record in the UK, and by the fourth week of holding onto the number one spot, it robbed Kylie Minogue’s anticipated release from the top spot. ‘Bleeding Love’ ended up reining the top spot for a total of seven weeks. It sold an incredible 563,702 copies in just four weeks, beating the previous record set by Mika with ‘Grace Kelly’.
In the busiest week for Christmas album releases, Spirit was up against huge established acts such as the Spice Girls, Led Zeppelin and Céline Dion. On its first day of sales alone Spirit sold over 130,000 copies, which was outselling the rest of the top ten put together. On average it worked out that Lewis was selling an amazing 200 albums per minute! Spirit beat the number two album, by the Spice Girls, by a staggering 300,085 copies. And it became UK’s fastest-selling debut album of all time, selling over 1 million copies in the UK in just five weeks.
And executive producers of Spirit, tough judge Simon Cowell and the legendary Clive Davis, were celebrating the success. “This is Leona”s day,” quips Cowell. “I am absolutely thrilled for her”
Davis said, “It’s an absolute thrill to see the single explode to number one and now the album entering at number one with all time sales numbers is beyond fantastic. We’re now diligently preparing for her major US debut, taking nothing for granted but knowing that Leona’s prodigious talent will win out.”
And yes, it wasn’t just Davis that was awaiting the US release with anticipation. These unprecedented sales had industry experts and fans holding their breath for release in the States. And as Davis predicted, her talent sure did win out. Lewis became the first British artist to debut at number one on the Billboard Album Chart. And it peaked at number one for at least four non-consecutive weeks in three separate runs.
Chart-Topping, Heart-Stopping Tracks
We’re not just saying this. We really mean it. Every single song is heart-stopping, and unsurprisingly, chart-topping. From the quality production, to the lyrical beauty and of course, the emotionally moving delivery.
And why would anyone expect any less? When you have a prodigy such as Leona Lewis on your hands, it’s a huge responsibility for the producers to execute a chart topping delivery and not waste such rare talent. And executive producers Cowell and Davis (which by the way is the first time they teamed up) made darn sure that her talent was not wasted with some rushed bubblegum album.
Cowell and Davis held a showcase for Lewis in Los Angeles to ensure they had the best songwriters on board. The selection of material was meticulous and arduous, as was the recording. It’s a collaborative effort that Lewis, a new artist, is lucky and proud to have. The big names that stand behind Spirit is staggering, and without a doubt is the cream of international producing talent that spans the lands of London, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles.
“We started in London with Steve Mac,” Leona says of the British pop supremo who has had everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Mariah Carey in his care, “Then Dallas Austin in Atlanta, Soulshock and Carlin, [Jimmy] Jam and [Terry] Lewis in Los Angeles. Walter Afanasieff too and also Salaam Remi in Miami. I love his studio. Unlike most, it’s on the roof of his house next to the pool. I got quite burned from sunbathing between takes.”
Those producers boast credits for work with the likes Aretha Franklin, Michael and Janet Jackson, TLC, Destiny’s Child, Fugees, Usher, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse. Lewis also visited Diane Warren, the queen of American songwriters to work on further material.
Other top-notch hit-maker names involved are OneRepublic frontman Ryan “Alias” Tedder who penned ‘Bleeding Love’, singer/songwriters Akon and Ne-Yo, songwriters Josh Alexander and Billy Steinberg, and songwriter/producers Dallas Austin, Stargate, J.R. Rotem, and Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald — all of whom have worked with some of the biggest names in pop.
The result is a mix of fresh pop and R&B, filled with “songs with a contemporary edge,” as Lewis puts it, ranging from soulful up-tempo numbers to ballads.
Breaking More than Just Music Records
We’d just like to mention that it’s not just the music records that Lewis has broken that has us impressed. She’s also proven a whole lot of other things.
She’s proven, in times when CD sales are at a rapid decline, that the record business is not dead. She’s proven in a world of stick thin Hollywoods, that curvaceous women can still grace the covers of Harpers Bazaar. She’s proven that you don’t have to be involved in drugs or DUI’s to make headlines. She’s proven that television talent show stars aren’t necessarily run of the mill bubblegum pop stars. She’s proven that the rise from nothing, rags-to-riches, still exist. And she’s proven that vegetarians can impress Simon Cowell.
Yeah, we just felt like throwing in that random fact… thought that it would be interesting to mention that Leona Lewis has been a vegetarian since she was 12 years old. And oh, here’s another random fact. She has known her current boyfriend, Lou Al-Chamaa, since she was 10 years old. He’s an electrician. And yes, she has already stated that she plans to marry him. He must be the luckiest electrician in the whole world.
Enough with the random facts. What’s next for this shining new star?
China, Meet Leona
Leona Lewis, alongside soccer ace David Beckham, have reportedly been lined up to star in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in China.
This will mark China”s official handover of the global sporting event to Britain for the London 2012 Games. Lewis will be singing to an estimated audience of over 150 million.
A source for the London 2012 Games says, “Leona and Beckham have accepted the invitation to sprinkle some stardust on the show. They epitomise what London 2012 is about. Leona is a young global star from London who has risen from nothing. Becks has glamour and a profile around the world.”
We can’t wait.
And if you happen to be one of the people (living in a cave) that have not heard any of Leona Lewis’ songs, we highly recommend that you don’t miss this performance. After all, it’s not everyday that you come across an artist so talented, that even Entertainment Weekly tells “Divas, watch out!”, comparing Leona Lewis to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Céline Dion.
But the English rose doesn’t look like she’s too comfortable donning the diva hat just yet. “Those women are the true divas,” Lewis insists. “They’re amazing performers whom I’ve listened to for years. These are the people who’ve inspired me to sing, so it’s flattering that I’m being compared to them. But I have a lot of hard work to do first!”
All that hard work is certainly paying off. And we sure are looking forward to the next record breaking feat from Leona Lewis, which we are quite certain, will be happening at the next Grammy’s.
Leona Lewis Playlists
Name 5 songs in your MP3 player:
1. Alicia Keys – ‘No one’
2. The Hoosiers – ‘Goodbye Mr. A’
3. Rihanna – ‘Please Don”t Stop The Music’
4. Foo fighters – ‘Pretender’
5. Céline Dion – ‘Taking Chances’
Your favourite playlist (10 songs):
1. ‘Kissing You’ by Des”ree – “I love the Romeo and Juliet movie and this track features in it and is so beautiful”
2. ‘Anytime You Need A Friend’ – “One of my favourite all time tracks”
3. Minnie Riperton ”Inside My Love” – “Minnie is one of my favourite artists, I am so inspired by her”
4. One Republic ”Apologize” – “This is Ryan Tedders band who wrote and produced my first single – this is just a really hot track”
5. David Bowie ”Space Odyssey” – “I actually sang this song in a show when I was younger and he’s in my favourite film, Labryinth”
6. Snow Patrol ”Run” – “I covered this track recently for Radio One Live Lounge and i absolutely loved performing it.”
7. No Doubt ”Dont Speak” – “I really love No Doubt, I love Gwen Stefani’s individuality”
8. Tracy Chapman ”Fast Car” – “This reminds me of car journeys growing up and it was always being played”
9. All Saints ‘Pure Shores’ – It’s in the movie The Beach which I loved!!
10. Celine Dion & Josh Groban ”The Prayer” – “One of my favourite duets of all time!!!”
Your favourite 5 love songs:
1. Whitney Houston – ‘I Will Always Love You’
2. Aerosmith – ‘Don”t Want to Miss a Thing’
3. Des’ree – ‘Kissing You’
4. Sade – ‘Your Love is King’
5. Sixpence None The Richer – ‘Kiss Me’
“I’m working hard to make sure that I’m around for a long time to come. It’s going to surprise people. I’ve surprised myself!
“This album is from an honest, genuine place. I know some people are asking, ‘where has she gone?’ but I wanted everyone who has supported and worked with me to have an album they’re proud of”
Leona Lewis’ album Spirit is available nationwide at all major record stores. This month’s cover feature was written by Lisa Zahran.