Video: The Evolution of Leona Lewis
Video: The Evolution of Leona Lewis

On 'Spirit,' Leona Lewis Was The U.K.'s Girl Next Door Who Conquered The Globe. Now, On 'Echo,' She's Taken Charge Of Her Image And Her Songwriting—And Is Ready For A World Tour

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 Billboard's top new artist of 2008.

While the campaign for Lewis' debut was hitch-free, the setup for its follow-up, "Echo"-released Nov. 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 Oct. 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 says of the attack, which left her bruised. "I was very sore. The main thing is that I'm still alive."By the time Billboard catches up with her, two weeks after the incident, she's even 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 says. "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." She says she has no lasting concerns about making public appearances.

The Internet leak was dealt with in similarly succinct fashion, as the IFPI'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. Dave Shack, London-based VP of international for Sony Music U.K., says, "I don't think it did us any real damage."

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