Artist Spotlight – Leona Lewis
November 29, 2023
Today marks ten years of Christmas, With Love, Leona Lewis’ epic holiday album that gifted us the festive classic One More Sleep. Released in the middle of a journey that’s taken the British artist from TV contestant to star of Broadway, she’s broken records on both sides of the Atlantic, launched an acting career, been nominated for and won countless awards and sold over thirty-five million records. This month we are turning out Artist Spotlight on Leona Lewis!
Born and raised in Islington, London, Leona’s parents recognised her talent early on, enrolling her in several performing arts schools including the Sylvia Young Theatre School as a child, and BRIT School as a teenager. Desperate to begin her career in music, Leona left school at seventeen, juggling jobs as a receptionist and waitress in order to save money for recording sessions. After struggling to secure a record contract, she auditioned for the third series of X Factor at the age of twenty-one.
Singing for the judges at her first audition, Leona successfully delivered a rollercoaster rendition of Over The Rainbow and she was selected for the 16-24 category with Simon Cowell as her mentor. She went on to win the live show at public vote after performing her version of Kelly Clarkson’s A Moment Like This. Not only was she the first ever woman to win the series, but after releasing her winning cover as a single, the track set a new world record, reaching 50,000 digital downloads within thirty-minutes. It was Christmas number one in 2006, holding the top spot for four weeks.
Taken from her debut album Spirit, Leona released her debut single proper the following year after signing a record deal in the US. Bleeding Love became an international hit and has since been certified platinum in the US, three times platinum in the UK, and has been streamed over two billion times. It reached the number one spot in thirty-five countries, including the US, at the time making Leona the first British solo artist in over twenty-years to top the Billboard Hot 100.
On Spirit, Leona collaborated with a host of acclaimed and ground-breaking writers and producers including Baby Love, Steve Mac and Ne-Yo. Released in November 2007, it went nine times platinum and became the fourth best-selling album of the decade in the UK. Leona was nominated for three Grammys, including Best Pop Vocal Album, four Brit Awards, won two MOBO Awards and was named Top New Artist by Billboard Magazine.
Leona released her second album, Echo, a year later having worked with another array of powerhouse writers and producers including Max Martin, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Tedder who previously wrote and produced Bleeding Love. The album went to number one in the UK and has since been certified twice platinum.
Album track My Hands was used as the theme song for the video game Final Fantasy XIII, while album closer Lost Then Found featured Ryan’s own band OneRepublic. Around the same time Leona also performed the theme song for the seminal movie Avatar, which won her a nomination at the Golden Globe Awards.
In 2013 and following the release of her mature, heartrending third album Glassheart, Leona moved her attention to all things festive. Recording at the height of summer, she turned sunshine into sleigh bells with a collection of classic covers and festive originals, including the merry magic of One More Sleep. Co-written by Leona, it’s a holiday hit that captures the excitement of the big day with a romantic twist.
Christmas, With Love was released on November 29th 2013. Lead single One More Sleep is now recognised as one of the UK’s biggest recent Christmas songs and one of the most streamed. The accompanying video pays homage to Wham!’s Last Christmas, as Leona brings her friends together in a wintry lodge for presents, dinner and drinks. Her love interest in the clip is played by now hubby Dennis Jauch, a real Christmas wish come true!
Shortly after the release of Christmas, With Love, Leona turned her talents to acting, taking a supporting role in the 2014 British musical Walking on Sunshine, while in 2016 she made her Broadway debut playing Grizabella in Cats. More recently she voiced the character of London Lilly in Snoop Dog’s kid’s series Doggyland! However, Snoop Dogg isn’t the only high profile fan of Leona. In 2015 she was a surprise guest on the Nashville date of Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour, where the pair duetted Bleeding Love. She even got a name-check on Kanye West’s 2010 track Dark Fantasy, returning the favour by covering his track Only One five years later.
This festive season Leona is back on the road ringing in the holidays with her Christmas, With Love 2023 Tour playing select dates around the UK and sprinkling a little tinsel-town glamour for all who celebrate. Check out all things Leona Christmas at the link here!
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