Leona Lewis: What's the secret to her success?
Leona Lewis shot to fame after winning the X Factor final in 2006 and her career has gone in leaps and bounds since then. Her first post-X Factor single Bleeding Love has sold nine million copies worldwide to date and reached number one in 34 countries. Now with 20 million sales under her belt, she is the most successful graduate of Simon Cowell's X Factor and has flourished, where other contestants have floundered. But what are the secrets to her success?
A voice to sink a thousand ships
Leona's four-octave vocal range could shatter glass and move mountains. She's a rare breed, taking on songs by artists as diverse as Take That and Whitney Houston and nailing it each and every time. Her new guise as electro-pop princess – note the earth shattering bassline of new track Glassheart – and her simultaneous desire to try out operatics for size, all prove that she is a flexible performer, who can turn her hand to anything. Classically trained, her BRIT school background has served her well but without that voice it would stand for nothing.
Patience is a virtue
Leona's debut single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This, broke records after it was downloaded 50,000 times in thirty minutes. It hit the Christmas number one spot and stayed there for four weeks. Leona made her fans wait nine months for a debut album to materialise but showed that good things come to those who wait, and in November 2007 scooped the number one spot yet again with Spirit. It went on to make history, becoming the UK's fourth fastest selling debut of all-time and achieving 9x platinum status in the UK as well as platinum in the US. Two years later she released her second LP Echo, and now with new LP Glassheart she's extolled the virtues of getting things just right. She insisted that Sony delay its release twice, meaning it eventually came out a year behind schedule. She's certainly a girl who knows what she wants!
Stays out of the spotlight
A little modesty goes a long way and it often pays to keep people guessing, as Leona would happily tell you. The eternally down-to-earth, refreshingly self-effacing Islington-born star prefers to keep her private life behind closed doors. Unlike many of her contemporaries who get papped to high heaven tumbling out of China White with their knickers in a twist, the ever elegant Leona has preserved her dignity from the off and steers clear of attention-seeking acts and outfits. You may call this boring but in fact, she is clearly so comfortable in her own skin that she doesn't feel the need for shock and awe tactics. Unlike some. But she channels her love of all things equestrian through Instagram – the endearingly monikered horse_shoe_peace – giving us that invaluable glimpse into her world.
Breaking America is the ultimate dream for many an aspiring pop starlet and our Leona went forth and conquered. With bells on. In February 2007 she signed a five-album, £5 million record deal in the US with Clive Davis's label, J Records, and her acclaimed album Spirit made her the first British artist to top the Billboard 200 with a debut. She took the stateside audience by storm when she belted out her rendition of Snow Patrol's Run during the X Factor USA final last year and even though she's bought a home in LA, still prefers life in Hackney – home is where the heart is, after all.