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Music Interview

Leona Lewis

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Leona Lewis
Since releasing her debut LP a year ago, Leona Lewis has reached number one on both sides of the Atlantic, sold nearly five million albums and had everyone from P Diddy to Katy Perry singing her praises. With feisty, upbeat new single 'Forgive Me' about to become her fourth smash in a row, we hooked up with the Hackney belter for a catch up.

Your new single's a shift in direction from your previous releases. Why did you decide to make a change?
"I wanted to do something a bit different and the chance to work with Akon came about. I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and it's great that it's different, rather than what I always do."

How much say do you get over your style and musical direction?
"It's funny because out of everyone from X Factor I probably get the most say on what I do. I'm very, very involved in everything that goes on from the music to the videos. It's great that I work with Simon [Cowell] and Clive [Davis], because they're both very respectful of my opinion and have the same vision for me as I do myself."

Does it annoy you when people presume you're told how to act and behave?
"It doesn't annoy me because people are going to have their perceptions and ideas. They can think what they want, but it's good to let people know I'm not just told, 'You have to do this, you have to do that'. That's really not the case."

You've confirmed you'll be touring in 2010. What do you want the tour to be like?
"It's going to be a really big tour, but I haven't thought about it too much. I want there to be great production - nothing crazy, but a great band is the basis of any tour. Big arenas would be great, but any venue is fine by me as long as I can play my songs."

What's your schedule for the second album and the tour?
"We're thinking next November for the record, but it may be sooner. The tour will be the year after."

Jordin Sparks and Justin Timberlake are two of the artists who've said they want to work with you. Will there be many collaborations on the second album?
"I'm definitely interested. Working with other artists and sharing your passions is great. Two heads are better than one sometimes, so who knows?"

How do you feel when someone like Timberlake praises your music?
"I'm like, 'How do you even know who I am dude?' I met him and sang with him at a charity show recently. He wants to work with me on some songs, which is cool with me - he's Justin Timberlake! He's lovely, so talented and so down-to-earth too."

Simon Cowell's recently offered to save the Christmas Top Of The Pops. How do you feel about the show being axed?
"If it's going, it's sad. I did it the year I won X Factor and it would be a shame to lose it. I would definitely back Simon. Music TV in the UK is disappearing. Top Of The Pops, CD:UK and shows like that have gone and it's bringing down the music industry. We should do as much as we can to keep our music TV and producers need to be more willing to accommodate live music. When you want to play with a band on UK TV, it's always very tricky, which is a shame because we need to support live music."

Have you been watching this year's X Factor?
"I've been using my Sky+ to keep up with it. I think all the contestants are really strong this year. The girls are doing really well and I find myself feeling really proud of them, which is a weird feeling."

Do you think Cheryl's going to beat Simon?
"She has a very, very good chance. But at the end of the day it's not the judges who are winning, it's the contestants."

Leona Lewis's new single, 'Forgive Me', is out now.

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