One of the most successful X Factor winners and British female singers of our time, Leona Lewis, is heading to the Sage Gateshead in February as part of her first UK tour in three years.
The Bleeding Love singer who “loves being on tour” will be performing new material from her fifth studio album I Am, as well as hits such as Run, Better In Time and Happy.
Talking on the phone from Los Angeles, the softly-spoken Grammy-nominated star said: “I am excited to play the Sage because it’s really special and beautiful.
“It’ll be fun to play there. I know the acoustics are really amazing and it’s all about how the music sounds to the audience.”
During her time out of the limelight, Leona, 30, from Islington, has experienced a journey of self-discovery.
She’s grown in confidence and also made a huge career change. She decided to leave behind the very man that helped catapult her to global stardom: Simon Cowell.
It was a bold move to part from his record label Syco and sign with Island Records, with who she recorded album I Am, but Leona insists there’s no bad feelings between herself and the music mogul.
The 2006 X Factor winner said: “It was time to have a change and take the next step. Sometimes you can get too comfortable.
“I was with Syco for seven years and felt it was time to have a new team around me with a new vision.
“Simon was so instrumental to me. He was my mentor in the beginning and I learnt a lot. I have so much respect for him. He’s so supportive even though we’re not on the same label now.”
I Am, which was released in September last year, sold 24,000 copies worldwide during its first week and resonated with Leona’s fans like no other record.
“It’s a special album for me. It has connected with my fans in a different way. I have had so many people reaching out to me because of the lyrics.
“The message on the album is very much about empowerment, doing what feels right and natural to you.”
Her instantly recognisable vocals on Fire Under My Feet, the first single from I Am, are feisty and uplifting.
Compared to Leona’s debut single Bleeding Love, which spent seven weeks at number one in the UK charts, some would say it hasn’t been as successful. But Leona doesn’t measure the success of her music based on a chart position.
“I measure my album’s success on how it connects with people. This one has connected with so many people on different levels, which is amazing and fulfilling,” added the singer.
“I really enjoy singing all the songs from it – it has a very freeing feeling and it really puts me in a good place.
“And that’s why I do music – I want to be fulfilled and contribute to people feeling better and uplifted,” added Leona, who hopes that’s how her fans will feel after her show at the Sage Gateshead, on February 25.
“This new show will be different from the others. I am in a much stronger place. I have learnt a lot about myself and how I like to perform and what I like to do.”
Leona, who once struggled with nervous both on and off stage, draws strength from positive affirmations.
She said: “I run through affirmations every morning and before I go on stage and think about how thankful I am.
“When I am out on stage I am just so grateful about being there and that people want to spend time with me and hear my music.”
l Leona Lewis plays Sage Gateshead on February 25 at 7pm. Tickets: £57, £41.50, £31.50. For more information visit www.sagegateshead.com