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
As she meets Billboard in a central London broadcast studio on a sunny October morning, Lewis is doing a good job of keeping her own excitement in check. Little wonder, as she has to pace herself: During the next seven hours she's conducting 25 back-to-back interviews with U.K. regional radio stations.
She points out that the release dates for "Spirit" were staggered internationally, but "Echo" is being released simultaneously worldwide, hence today's compressed schedule.
Fortunately, the success of "Spirit" means she now has her pick of promotional platforms. After a Nov. 4 slot at Spain's Premios Ondas awards gala, she performed at MTV's European Music Awards ceremony in Berlin the following day-a significant step up from her role presenting an award at last year's ceremony in Liverpool and, Shack says, a crucial European campaign launch point.
"Her peers visually are Jay-Z and Beyoncé and all the people on the show this year," he says. "Those are fantastic luminaries for her to be sharing stages with and proving that she's a big European star as well."
Then there was her Nov. 8 return to U.K. ratings champ "The X Factor," timed for maximum impact on single and album sales, before heading for the States and a run of high-profile TV engagements on "Today" (Nov. 16), "Dancing With the Stars" (Nov. 17), "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (Nov. 19), "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" (Nov. 19) and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (taped Nov. 20, with the airdate still to be determined).
In person, as on TV, the 24-year-old is glamorous but demure. As befitting her committed vegetarianism and stated intention never to undertake raunchy photo shoots, her knee-high boots are a man-made version of suede and accessorized with cozy tights.
And while, as Shack puts it, "18 months ago, she was that starlet that had won 'The X Factor' and this was her first foray into promotion, so she was a bit caught in the headlights," she now radiates sleek, professional polish as she professes to not even know the meaning of "the sophomore slump."
"I wanted something that showed my growth, that showed where I was as a person and as an artist now," she says of "Echo," mostly recorded in Hollywood's Henson Recording Studios. "And I think I did that quite well."