Leona leads by example

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Leona Lewis has announ-ced her first tour in three years following the release of her latest album – including a date in Sheffield.

I Am, the 2006 X Factor winner’s fifth studio album, reached number 12 following its release in September.

And Leona is excited about taking the “special album” on the road.

“This album, I started off doing independently, so it’s a special album for me,” she says, having released it through Island Records after leaving X Factor mogul Simon Cowell’s Syco Music label in 2014.

“I started doing it in a very different way. I made a couple of independent albums years ago, before The X Factor, and I almost went back that way.

“It’s very refreshing, although it still sounds like me.

“My aim is always to have songs people can listen to in 10 years and it doesn’t sound too dated.”

And the 30-year-old is looking forward to sharing the songs on tour, which includes a show at Sheffield City Hall on Monday, February 22,

“I’ll talk about the record a bit, the different songs, the meanings,” she says.

“It will obviously include songs from my previous albums, because I know people want to hear them.

“The main thing is I want people to walk away feeling very uplifted.”

Songs from previous albums include a string of UK chart-toppers, including debut track A Moment Like This, US number one Bleeding Love and her 2008 cover of Snow Patrol’s Run.

And the hits have given Leona a profile she is keen to use for good.

“I have a voice that’s got a bit of attention and I feel I need to use it to speak out for causes close to my heart,” she says, speaking from a hotel room in New York where she was receiving a UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day music pioneer award.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged for stuff like that,” says the committed animal welfare campaigner, who was recognised for her drive to empower women.

“I started a campaign on social media, I Am Empowered,” she says. “People shared stories with me and I shared them.”

And she is keen to keep using her profile to speak out.

“The media want to highlight negative things, so when you’re speaking out, sometimes, even for me, it’s hard to be heard,” says Leona.

“For people campaigning every day, it’s even harder for them. All I can do is try my best to get it across as much as possible.

“A lot of the time, negative behaviour is highlighted, rather than positive. It’s changing, but it needs to change at a quicker pace.

“I feel people in showbusiness, like I am, should be highlighting what’s important. For me, with my music, I am definitely one of the lucky ones that gets to share it on a big platform.”

n Leona Lewis plays Sheffield City Hall on Monday, February 22. For tickets, priced from £29.50, visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk

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