Leona Lewis once worked as a waitress at Pizza Hut to fund studio sessions before landing a £1million record deal.
The X Factor winner, who celebrates her 37th birthday today, struggled to secure a deal after leaving BRIT school, so she appeared before the judges.
A favorite from the start, the Hackney-born star won the ITV show by a landslide victory in 2006 by beating Ray Quinn in the final, led by Simon Cowell.
Her cover of Kelly Clarkson’s A Moment Like This made it to number one at Christmas, selling more copies than the rest of that week’s Top 40 combined, and she was immediately signed to Simon’s record label Syco.
Since then she has sold over 35 million records worldwide, has been nominated for six BRIT Awards and three Grammys and has won two MOBO Awards.
Their debut studio album Spirit became the fourth best selling album of the 2000s and the lead single Bleeding Love spent seven weeks at number one in the UK.
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However, she announced her decision to leave Simon and parted ways with Syco in 2014 after falling in love with the record label.
“Simon Cowell was amazing but at the end of the day it’s a huge label now,” she told The Independent at the time.
“I felt like at that stage they were just stopping me from fulfilling my potential, asking me to do a covers album was… there wasn’t any love in it.
“You gave me no choice. So no, I said, we’re done now. It’s all good, I still have so much love, but we’re done.
“Simon probably doesn’t even know what happened that way, but I felt disrespected and felt it was a very callous way to act when I was just trying to do what I loved. I’ve been in limbo and this is the worst place to be. You can’t leave me hanging by a string.
Leona landed a new record deal with Universal and later explained that she was fed up with the delays in making her music because Simon was always busy.
“There’s no bad blood at all. Simon sent me a really lovely message last week saying they miss me at the label,” she added.
“There is nothing but love. He knew I had to go. He was upset about it, but it was time for something new, so I’m looking forward to moving on and doing something different.”
Last December, the singing sensation admitted the couple still have a “good” relationship despite splitting from their record company.
Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show, Leona said: “That was it [an amicable split] – we are still good, we keep in touch, he gets in touch with me, I get in touch with him.
“Throughout the show he was definitely a real mentor and really involved in helping me with song selection and arrangements. He was a big supporter.”
She continued: “‘[The X Factor was] such a huge platform… It was at the time YouTube was starting to simmer… the videos went viral, it was crazy.”
Leona also confessed that she felt it was the right decision to scrap the X Factor even though it was a platform for many stars, including herself.
She admitted she struggled with self-doubt after being thrust into the spotlight following her win and that the beauty standards expected in the industry made her sanity suffer after she found fame.
Leona said: “It had to happen at some point and I feel like it was the right time.
“We’re in a different time now, with streaming and all the different platforms we’re on – there’s so much out there. Everything has to evolve and move on, and we cannot remain static. We have to go along with it and embrace it, it was about time.”
Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/REX/Shutterstock)
While Leona has found much success in her career, away from showbiz she began to suffer from a series of ailments which led to her being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2017.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland, causing chronic fatigue, nausea and pain, making Leona struggle with daily life.
“I was feeling very sick and had chronic fatigue and this really bad pain in my throat and neck. I didn’t know what was going on. It was a pretty tough time,” she wrote in an essay for shine.
Suspecting that the condition was related to her busy lifestyle and exposure to chemicals in beauty and hair products, she stopped straightening her hair and made numerous other lifestyle changes.
“When I was first diagnosed I was absolutely devastated; I felt very scared and alone,” she said.
“I could hear my body telling me to slow down. I also felt tired during the performances. I started taking medication but also turned to Ayurveda (my mother is a master herbalist) to heal my body naturally.
“I’ve just gotten to a point where I wanted to start over physically and emotionally. I started eating better and stopped straightening my hair.”
As for her personal life, Leona split from childhood sweetheart Lou Al-Chamaa in 2010 and then met choreographer and creative director Dennis Jauch on her Labyrinth tour.
In July 2019 she married the German dancer in a Tuscan winery OK! magazine before the wedding that Dennis is her “rock”.
“We are so ready to do this. Dennis is the kindest, most considerate person I’ve ever met,” she gushed of her husband, who popped the question while vacationing in Puerto Rico.
The couple owned a number of multi-million dollar properties and in November 2019 they sold their $2.25 million ranch in Glendale, California for a $3.7 million home in the famous Hidden Hills of Los Angeles.
To show her relationship with Simon Cowell is still going strong, she sold the house to the music magnate in 2020 and now resides in a $2.6 million mansion in Studio City.
Leona had said in the past that she wasn’t sure about having children, once saying, “I want kids, but Dennis and I have also been talking about adoption.
“My mother grew up in a children’s home. Nobody adopted her as a child and I would very much like to adopt her. But I’m still thinking.
“If my husband had had his way, we would have had children yesterday.”
Fans were ecstatic this month when Leona announced she’s pregnant with a stunning pic of her bump.
“Can’t wait to meet you in the summer,” the 39-year-old X Factor winner wrote when she posted the photo to Instagram.
In the sweet snap, she wore a fitted black dress that beautifully accentuated her blossoming belly.
A source told The Sun: “Leona and Dennis are absolutely delighted.
“They passed the 12-week milestone and told their family and friends earlier this year.
“They can’t wait to welcome their new arrival and become a family of three.”
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/leona-lewis-now-baby-simon-26610961 Where Leona Lewis is now - baby, breakup with Simon Cowell and her current relationship