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Leona Lewis hopes "Echo" will resound
Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:05pm EST
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By Craig McLean
LONDON (Billboard) - Violence and theft. Not words one would normally associate with Leona Lewis, the squeaky-clean winner of "The X Factor," who went on to stunning worldwide success with her debut album, "Spirit."
Nor, one imagines, exactly how Clive Davis, Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment envisaged the comeback push for the British singer.
While the promotional campaign for Lewis' debut was hitch-free, the setup for its follow-up, "Echo" -- released November 16 in the United Kingdom on Cowell's Syco Music and a day later in the United States on J -- has been anything but smooth.
First, in mid-August, three songs from the album sessions leaked onto the Internet, reportedly after Syco's IT system was hacked.
Then, more dramatically, Lewis was assaulted October 14 during a London book signing for her autobiography, "Dreams." The man accused of punching her in the head was committed under the United Kingdom's Mental Health Act.
"It was a shock," Lewis said of the attack, which left her bruised. "I was very sore. The main thing is that I'm still alive."
By the time Billboard caught up with her, two weeks after the incident, she even was able to smile about it, particularly the tabloid reports that Lou Al-Chamaa -- the childhood sweetheart with whom Lewis still lives in her working-class home neighborhood of Hackney in northeast London -- rushed in to tackle her assailant.
"He wasn't even there," she said. "That makes me laugh. I'm sure if he was there, he would have. My dad and my brothers weren't there (either). They're usually at different things that I do. But I'm so glad that they weren't. Because, oh, my God ..."
In the immediate aftermath of the assault, Lewis canceled promotional trips to Germany and France, and pulled out of a high-profile U.K. TV appearance on BBC 1's "The One Show."
The Internet leak was dealt with in similarly succinct fashion, as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's anti-piracy unit teamed with law enforcement agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. A criminal investigation is ongoing, according to Syco head of media Ann-Marie Thomson.
Lewis' "Spirit" sold 6.5 million copies worldwide (according to Sony), including 1.6 million in the United States (according to Nielsen SoundScan) and 2.8 million in the United Kingdom (according to the Official Charts Co.). It also earned Lewis three nominations at the Grammy Awards and four at the BRITs.
The international breakout single, "Bleeding Love" -- co-written by Jesse McCartney and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder -- hit No. 1 in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Billboard's European Hot 100 Singles chart.
Such success had been a long time coming for Lewis, who attended the United Kingdom's BRIT School for the Performing Arts and spent much of her teenage years writing and recording in search of that elusive break.
When it came, it catapulted her to unprecedented heights for a U.K. talent show winner, but Sony Music chief creative officer Clive Davis has no doubt she deserves every bit of her success. Continued...
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