Women's Impact Report: Legends & Ingenues

Organize this year’s album sales charts by gender, and Mariah Carey and Leona Lewis will be one and two, as Carey’s 11th disc (“E=MC2″) has topped 1.1 million in U.S. sales, and Lewis’ debut (“Spirit”) has sprinted beyond 900,000.

Carey, recently married to actor Nick Cannon, is touring the country doing free shows as part of the second Samsung AT&T Summer Krush, while Lewis, fresh off being voted the world’s sexiest vegetarian, is touring through Europe.

Carey, 38, scored her 18th No. 1 single this year, surpassing Elvis Presley’s 15 chart toppers and putting her in first place among solo artists. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. And, with the fiasco of “Glitter” behind her, Carey has returned to film and received some decent reviews for “Tennessee.”

Since her May marriage to Cannon, though, she has maintained a low profile, telling Ryan Seacrest on KIIS FM in L.A., “I can have a personal life, and I can have a life making records and doing whatever other creative things I want to do. (Life now) is a lot more enjoyable, and it’s preferable, it’s ‘quite pleasant,’ as I like to say.”

Rumors started circulating in July that Carey had been offered a Las Vegas residency at the Planet Hollywood Resort, though there was no confirmation.

“American Idol” has revealed the enduring influence of Carey and her melisma-rich singing style, and when she appeared on “Idol” this past season, she proved to be one of the better mentors that the series has booked. On top of that, the singers discovered precisely how challenging the Carey songbook can be.

Lewis, 23, told Parade magazine that being compared to Carey and her other idol, Whitney Houston, is “exceedingly gratifying, because they are so great.”

A London native, Lewis won the British singing competition “X Factor,” and before she even hit radio airwaves was being compared to Carey. Her album was first released in the U.K., selling 376,000 copies in its first week, making it the bestselling debut ever in the U.K. In April, “Spirit” became the first album by a U.K. solo artist to start at No. 1 with their debut disc, selling 205,000 copies in a week.

Her single, “Bleeding Love,” posted impressive sales and airplay statistics worldwide. After hearing the single, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs said he knew immediately that he wanted to work with her, telling a number of press outlets she has one of the best voices he has ever heard.

In early July, Lewis was among the performers at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party. On her blog, she noted that “it was one of my favorite performances. … To perform for such an amazing man’s birthday and 46664, his remarkable (AIDS) charity, is one of the highlights of my career, and I hope there will be many great causes that I can be a part of.”

MARIAH CAREY

If not Hillary, then who?: “I can relate a lot to so many of the stories (Barack Obama) tells. Clearly I am not the political analyst of the ages, but this is something that hits me on a deeper level than anything I’ve ever experienced growing up.” (Carey to Elle magazine)

LEONA LEWIS

Career mantra: “You can’t make your mistakes in private. I have the advantage of a great support structure. I get honest opinions from my family and friends. They aren’t always telling me what I want to hear, but the truth helps keep my head straight.” (Lewis to Parade)

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