'X Factor' winner crafts follow-up to 'Spirit'

Much like its Stateside counterpart “American Idol,” the British reality series “X Factor” has had mixed results in producing enduring artists — but three years after being crowned the show’s champ, Leona Lewis is certainly exhibiting some staying power.

Lewis, who has sold more than 6 million copies of her debut album “Spirit,” released early last year, spent a good bit of 2009 crafting the follow-up, “Echo,” which is due to hit shelves Nov. 17. The singer contributed more significantly to the writing process — in tandem with pop vets Ryan Tedder, Max Martin and Ne-Yo this time around — and says that the finished product is a bit different.

“I knew I wanted the album to have a little bit more of a live feel to it, with a little more live instrumentation,” she says. “I want the music to speak for itself. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but in a positive way.”

Initial reaction to the disc’s first single, “Happy,” has been encouraging, with Clear Channel adding the song to its premium choice program, and there’s been a strong showing at digital retail — not a surprise, as “Bleeding Love” was the biggest digital seller of 2008 at more than 3.3 million units.

“The first-week sales have been amazing,” says Scott Seviour, senior VP of artist development at RCA Music Group. “ITunes was over 50,000 alone, and we’re getting great response at Hot AC and Top 40, which is her sweet spot.”

The Simon Cowell-managed singer will film a clip for the single in Cuba with director Jake Nava, who lensed her “Run” video. Saviour says the label plans to rely heavily on the 24-year-old’s “extremely reactive” television presence, mounting a campaign that got under way with a mid-September slate that included performances on VH1′s “Divas Live” and the season finale of “America’s Got Talent.”

Lewis is also planning to mount her first full-scale world tour in early 2010, and while routing has yet to be determined, the singer, who identifies herself as “a bit of a control freak,” says she’s eager to hit the road for the trek, which could last up to a year.

“I want everything to be the best it can be on all levels,” she says, “and when it comes to my music, I’m not afraid to say what I mean and go for what I want.”

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