Leona Louise Lewis (born 3 April 1985) is a British singer, songwriter, actress, model, and activist. She was born and raised in the London Borough of Islington, where she attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. Lewis achieved national recognition when she won the third series of The X Factor in 2006, winning a £1 million recording contract with 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.
Lewis’s success continued with the release of her debut studio album, Spirit (2007), which was certified 10× platinum in the UK and became the fourth best-selling album of the 2000s and one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. According to the Official Charts Company, Spirit is officially the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the 21st century. The lead single, “Bleeding Love”, spent seven weeks at number one in over 30 countries, including the UK where it became the best-selling single of 2007 and the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming the best-selling single of 2008. Its follow-up single, “Better in Time”, was also successful. As a result, Lewis was proclaimed Top New Artist by Billboard in 2008. In 2009, she released her second studio album, Echo, and recorded the theme song, “I See You”, for the film Avatar.
In 2011, Lewis released the single “Collide”, a collaboration with Swedish DJ Avicii, and her debut extended play, Hurt: The EP. Her third studio album, Glassheart (2012), marked a new creative direction for Lewis, drawing inspiration from dubstep and electronic music. She 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 and 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, she made her film debut in Walking on Sunshine, and 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, and the following year, she signed a modelling contract with Wilhelmina Models. She then collaborated with Calum Scott on the single “You Are The Reason” (2018), which achieved international success, and had a recurring role on the American television series The Oath (2019).
As of 2015, Lewis is the second best-selling act from The X Factor UK, behind One Direction, having sold over 30 million records worldwide. She 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. Aside from her music and acting career, Lewis has publicly supported various charitable causes, particularly animal rights; she is also vegan.