3 April 1985, Islington, London, England. The winner of the third series of the highly popular UK series, The X Factor, Lewis was widely praised as the first genuine vocal talent to emerge from the much derided reality television format. Lewis, who was born and raised in London, began singing at an early age and made several appearances at live talent shows during her early teens. She attended the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School and Brit School, both renowned as breeding grounds for future television stars. At the time of her audition for the third series of The X Factor in 2006, she was working as a receptionist and had recorded an album of her own songs. Mentored throughout the show by Simon Cowell, a shrewd but opinionated judge of talent, Lewis stood out among the usual crowd of mediocre singers as a vocalist of some stature. Her versions of the standard Summertime and Dolly Partons I Will Always Love You were fine diva performances, and it was little surprise when she won the competition by a large margin. Her debut single, a powerful version of American Idol winner Kelly Clarksons first single A Moment Like This, predictably romped to the top of the UK charts at Christmas 2006.
Lewis teamed up with Cowell and US music svengali Clive Davis for the writing and production of her debut album. Recorded in the UK and USA, the album was intended to elevate Lewis above the ranks of reality television contestants, and as such was not completed until late in 2007. The first single Bleeding Love, a smart, uptempo ballad written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and Jesse McCartney, debuted at the top of the UK charts in November. The following March the song reached the top of the US mainstream chart, making Lewis the first British female solo artist in over 20 years to achieve the feat. Unfortunately, the attendant Spirit was largely devoid of passion and failed to help Lewis stand out from the pack of similar sounding urban singers. The album debuted at the top of the UK and US charts, making Lewis the only British solo artist to reach number 1 in the USA with their debut.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.