Leona Lewis is a British singer, songwriter, actress, model and activist.
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 winner’s single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This”, peaked at number one for four weeks on the UK Singles Chart and broke a world record for reaching 50,000 digital downloads within 30 minutes.
In February 2007, Lewis signed a five-album contract in the United States with Clive Davis’s record label, J Records.
- Full name: Leona Louise Lewis
- Born: 3 April 1985, Islington, London
- Profession: British singer-songwriter
- Spouse: Dennis Jauch (m. 2019)
- Net worth: US$30 million (April 2018)
- Albums: Spirit, Christmas, with Love, Echo, Glassheart, I Am and more
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About Leona Lewis
Leona Lewis was born on 3 April 1985, in Islington, London, England. She is daughter of a Welsh mother and a father of Guyanese descent.
She has an older half-brother, Bradley, and a younger brother, Kyle. Noticing Lewis’s passion for singing, her parents enrolled her at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and later at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, 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 to help their daughter achieve her aspiration of being a singer.
At the age of 17, Lewis decided to leave BRIT School to “get out there” and pursue a career in music.
By then, she had already begun to write and record her own material, and she worked as a receptionist at a solicitor’s office and as a Pizza Hut waitress in order to fund the studio sessions.
At 18, Lewis secured a lead role in The Lion King theatre show in Paris; however, she withdrew after injuring her back while she was ice-skating.
Lewis recorded a demo album, called Twilight, in collaboration with Spiral Music, a production company based in Fulham, but it failed to secure her an album deal with any record companies.
Although the album was never released commercially, Lewis performed a couple of the tracks live on BBC Radio 1 music station in 2004.
Another demo album was recorded under license from UEG Entertainment, Best Kept Secret, which have reportedly claimed to have spent £70,000 trying to launch Lewis’s career with no success.
A track from the album, “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.”
Lewis’s success continued with the release of her debut album, Spirit, in 2007; it was certified 10× platinum in the United Kingdom and became the fourth best-selling album of the 2000s.
It is one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. In the US, Lewis became the first UK solo artist to debut at number one with a debut album, with Spirit.
The lead single, “Bleeding Love”, spent seven weeks at number one in the UK where it became the best-selling single of 2007.
She achieved international recognition with the album in 2008 when it topped charts around the world.
Spirit has sold more than eight million copies worldwide, and “Bleeding Love” peaked at number one in over 30 countries, including the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming the best-selling single of 2008.
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. She embarked 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 in the UK 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 in the UK.
With this chart entry, Lewis became the first British female solo artist to reach the top five with eight singles, surpassing Olivia Newton-John’s record of seven.
In 2014, Lewis made her film debut in the supporting role of Elena in the romantic comedy musical, Walking on Sunshine. Her fourth studio album, I Am, was released the following year.
In 2016, Lewis made her Broadway debut as Grizabella in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats.
A year later, she signed a modelling contract with Wilhelmina Models. She then collaborated with Calum Scott on the single “You Are The Reason” (2018) which achieved worldwide chart success, and had a recurring role in the American television series The Oath (2019).
As of 2015, Lewis is the second best-selling act from The X Factor franchise in the UK, behind One Direction, having sold over 30 million records worldwide.
The OCC recognises Lewis as the most successful winner from the UK’s The X Factor.
Lewis has won two MOBO Awards, an MTV Europe Music Award, and two World Music Awards.
She is also a six-time Brit Award and three-time Grammy Award nominee.
Lewis is known for her expansive four-octave vocal range, power, technical control and, in particular, her frequent use of the falsetto register.
Aside from her musical career, Lewis is a philanthropist and an animal welfare campaigner for World Animal Protection and is a supporter of other animal rights charities and organisations; she is also vegan.