Rising Star: Leona Lewis

She’s already conquered her native Britain, and now, Rising Star Leona Lewis is ready to take over America.

And take over she will, especially if “American Idol’s” Simon Cowell has his way. The “American Idol” judge has had a heavy hand in her short-lived, but already monumental career, which is beginning to take flight stateside.

Lewis met Cowell as she journeyed to fame in the U.K. on the 2006 third edition of “The X Factor,” a talent competition executive produced by the “Idol” judge.

“I think she’s one of the best singers we’ve seen in this country for a long, long time,” Cowell previously said of Lewis.

Lewis entered the competition on the urging of her boyfriend and quickly found success on the show. Each week the praise from the judges (including Cowell and Sharon Osbourne) was stronger as Lewis’ performances captured the British public’s attention.

After winning the show, she released a cover version of “A Moment Like This,” originally sung by “Idol’s” Kelly Clarkson. Lewis’ version set a download record almost immediately and eventually went on to sell over half a million copies in a week’s time.

As Lewis went to work on her record, Simon Cowell, along with record company impresario Clive Davis, announced they would partner together to help lead her down the yellow brick road of album recording, hand picking the best songs and super producers for her to work with.

Among the artists she was paired with were Akon (who found success with Gwen Stefani and on his own) and Ne-Yo (who wrote Beyonce’s “Irreplacable”).

“It was quite daunting at first to work with such well-known people,” Lewis said, “but they gave me their full attention and really wanted to do their best. They were all really lovely and I learned something different from each one of them.”

The result is “Spirit,” which has already sold 2.5 million copies worldwide and finally gets its stateside release on J Records/Syco April 8.

The effort has already netted her heavy praise and comparisons to divas who are good enough to go by just one name – Mariah, Whitney and Celine.

“Those women are the true divas,” Lewis said. “They’re amazing performers, whom I’ve listened to for years. These are the people who’ve inspired me to sing, so it’s flattering that I’m being compared to them. But I have a lot of hard work to do first!”

Among that hard work, at least in the U.S. anyway, is a host of appearance across TV. And during her trip, she will get to meet Oprah! Lewis is performing on Miss O’s program on March 17.

In the meantime, you can listen out for Leona’s first single, “Bleeding Love,” which is the most added and requested single currently on Top 40 radio.

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