So let’s kick off with your new/current album, I Am. Can you tell us what inspired you to make this album and what it’s all about?
I first wrote the song ‘I Am’ as the title track of the album. I was inspired to make this album as it really revealed the ‘real me’; it speaks out about the struggles and
obstacles I have got through, and it’s all about strength and self-empowerment.
For you, what’s the most emotional song on the album?
I think the most emotional song for me is ‘Thank You’. I wrote it for my parents as they have helped me through my lowest points and they have really been there for me. If something is written about me online or in the papers, they are affected too. People sometimes forget that I’m not ‘just a singer’; I am someone’s daughter!
From the album I particularly like ‘Fire Under My Feet’. Do you have a favourite song that you prefer over the rest?
My favourite song from the album would have to be ‘Thunder’. It is so raw and real, and when it’s performed live it sounds so different to the recording – it takes a whole new meaning to the song.
So we’re here to announce your new tour, of course; when and where does it all kick off?
It starts in Liverpool at the end of February, and lastly here in Plymouth on the 11th March.
What can the fans expect? Will we see a new fresh Leona?
This is my first album and tour since leaving Simon Cowell’s label, Syco. I’ll be performing a lot of songs from the album at my shows that really show my coming through from a vulnerable place in the past. It will be very uplifting and I hope people will enjoy it and can take something from the show.
So the tour will finish here in Plymouth on March 11th in the Pavilions. As it’s your last date and it’s here in Plymouth, will you be venturing out to do any shopping or plan to visit any of the sea front restaurants or clubs the City has to offer?
As it’s my last tour date, yes I’m sure I will venture out, let loose and have fun in Plymouth. Myles: So can we expect to see you out and about in the city centre? Leona: (laughing) after the show I’m sure I will go out and celebrate!
You’ve performed with many artists, including rock-legend Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, who recently described performing with you as his career high. What was it like to perform with such an iconic legend?
I remember being in the production studio and Jimmy turned up. I was so nervous when he was listening to the recording that I nearly started throwing up! But he was one of the nicest people I have ever met inside and outside of the industry. He was such a lovely person to sit and chat too, and it was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my whole career.
You have had some remarkable highs in your life, including the rise to fame with, of course, your win at the X Factor in 2006. What pushed you to actually enter the show?
I was working part-time and gigging in the studio when I had free time. I reached a point where I decided to go for everything that came to me, and to go for every opportunity. It all started from here! I wasn’t actually going to audition but I had received some sad news that a family member had passed away, and I knew that they would have wanted me to do it.
It’s said you are one of the biggest successes to come out of X Factor to date. Out of the whole experience, what was the best memory for you?
The best memory of X factor would have to be all the time I got to spend with the mentors. I had the amazing opportunity to get tips from Tony Bennett and Rod Stewart. It was such a beneficial part of the show.
Do you find time nowadays to watch the X Factor?
Yes, whenever I can – I’m travelling a lot at the moment.
When you’re not performing or writing music what do you like to do?
I like to sit on the couch and do nothing! I also love spending time with my animals, especially my horse as I am a horse rider. I like spending time with nature; the simple things, really.
I’m going to assume you are a big fan of Christmas as you have a Christmas Album ‘Christmas, With Love’! ‘One more sleep’ is becoming an iconic Christmas song and the video looks great; was it fun to make?
It was so fun to make as my friends, family and boyfriend took part in the video which just filmed us all being silly.
Have you got any plans to visit family over Christmas?
I’ll be visiting all my family over Christmas; it’s my little nephew’s first Christmas so we are going to absolutely spoil him!
If you could give one piece of advice for anyone wanting to start a music career, what would it be?
Always be authentic and true to yourself. Remember you are unique, and your uniqueness is what you have to offer; no-one can take that away from you.
Interview by Myles Lockwood
Written by Harriet McClure
With thanks to Leona Lewis,
SJM Concerts and Plymouth Pavilions