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
Shack's comment must be a relief to all concerned with promoting one of the year's most hotly anticipated albums. After all, "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. [OCC]). 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.
"Leona has one of those very, very special voices that's expressive and has an incredible range," says Davis on why-of all the new artists who regularly cross his desk-he chose to back her so wholeheartedly. "But she also can feel the lyric very sensitively. You look for that in a singer. She's also passionate about music-it really runs in her soul. That combination made me feel that she was a special new talent."
All of which leaves a lot for Lewis' second album to live up to. Scott Seviour, New York-based senior VP of marketing and artist development for RCA Music Group, says the "Echo" campaign will have three long-reaching phases.
The "ignition point" was Lewis' September appearances on "VH1 Divas" and the finale of "America's Got Talent" the same week that lead single "Happy"-a slow-burning, epic ballad co-written with Tedder and Evan Bogart-went to top 40 and hot AC formats.
So far, however, "Happy" has only peaked at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 156,000 U.S. downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Bleeding Love," in contrast, has moved 3.8 million, the 12th-biggest-selling U.S. download of all time. "Happy" was released digitally Nov. 8 in the United Kingdom; the song has been performing strongly at U.K. radio, so far peaking at No. 4 on the OCC's radio airplay chart and debuting at No. 2 on the U.K. Singles chart Nov. 15.
"We all know 'Happy' is a fantastic song and a great calling card to come back [with]," Shack says. "But the caveat is, it's a song that takes work. We were always going to struggle to have 'Bleeding Love' part two."
Nonetheless, all parties say "Echo" has much greater depth than Lewis' debut. Phase two of the campaign encompasses the release of a second single, currently tipped to be either "Love Letter" or "I Got You," in February. Phase three will kick-start with Lewis' first tour in May.
"When an artist breaks in as many countries as Leona did, they have to go all over the world," Davis says. " She really had to go and help introduce her [new] album in all those countries that were interested in her."