Welcome to the American music industry, Leona Lewis. The lovely 21-year-old Brit already has smashed the game in her home country with her debut LP, Spirit, which topped the charts across the pond and all over the world a year after she won Simon Cowell's U.K. talent show "The X Factor."
Saturday night, it's America's turn to get a full taste of the lady music mogul Clive Davis is banking on to follow in his line of songstresses such as Alicia Keys and Fantasia.
The RCA CEO is featuring Lewis at his legendary pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Usher, Will Smith, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and a myriad of other guests, ranging from Chris Brown to Evander Holyfield, are expected to show up. The party has also been a launching pad for onetime up-and-comers Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Fantasia, who have all put their pipes on display at the event.
"I remember watching the rehearsals [last year], and I actually watched Jennifer Hudson, who was amazing," Lewis said Thursday night after she rehearsed her number "Bleeding Love" for the big event. She'll perform the Roberta Flack classic "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" as well.
"I remember thinking, 'It would be incredible if I could be performing on that stage,' " Lewis said. "Now I'm getting to. It's such an honor. This is definitely gonna be a pinnacle of my year."
Leona Lewis was brought to Clive Davis' attention by Cowell when she won the British "American Idol" equivalent in 2006. Davis immediately started putting her U.S. musical strike plan in motion.
"Her range, her feel for music — it's clear she has the passion for music," Davis said of Leona. "A year ago, right here, we gathered the best writers and producers of the world. We had her sing in a living room of a suite and she floored them. It led to getting incredible material which has made up her album."
Davis said he was also looking forward to Daughtry's performance at his event.
"You know Leona, don't you?" Davis said to Chris Daughtry, as the "Idol" finalist was just finishing his rehearsal for the event.
"Nice to meet you," Daughtry said to his labelmate.
Daughtry said it hasn't set in that his band's self-titled debut was the third-best-selling album of 2007.
"It's all kinda new, professionally," he said. "It's all a whirwind still. I don't know if I necessarily want it to feel like I've got it yet. I kind of like the fact that it still doesn't feel real."
"Let me tell you, it still doesn't feel real to me with the numbers of years I've been in it, so it better not feel real to you," Davis laughed.
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