Born in London to a Guyanese father and a Welsh mother, Leona Lewis displayed an early penchant for the stage, attending the Italia Conti and BRIT stage schools, playing piano and guitar as well as showing an exceptional singing talent, particularly jazz and blues. However, her attempts to get her career off the ground all came to nothing until her powerful, soulful voice won over viewers of 2006 X Factor TV reality show. Mentored by Simon Cowell, Leona won a £1m recording contract and went straight to No 1 with a cover of Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This. Her second single Bleeding Love went to No 1 in over a dozen countries, including the US, and in 2008 The Spirit made her the first British act to top the US charts with a debut album. She gained further fame after performing at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.