Leona Lewis is the first British female artist to debut at No. 1 on Billboard

British sensation Leona Lewis has continued her record-breaking success as she conquers the U.S., with her album ‘Spirit’ (J Records/SyCo Music) entering the Billboard album chart at #1 today with 204, 841 albums sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

This is the first time in music history that a British female artist debuts at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, and it’s the first time ever that a British artist overall has debuted on the chart at #1 with a first album.

It is also the biggest female artist first album debut since Carrie Underwood in 2005, and had the biggest digital album sales week ever for a new artist.  No stranger to record-breaking success, just two weeks ago, Leona broke the Hot 100 Chart record, becoming the first British female solo artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart in over 21 years with her single “Bleeding Love,” which to date, has sold over 1 million tracks stateside and returns to the #1 spot this week on the Billboard Digital Songs Chart.

For the first time, Clive Davis and Simon Cowell teamed up to sign Lewis to J Records/ SyCo Music (Cowell’s joint venture with Sony BMG), and together produced ‘Spirit’.

In a release, Clive Davis stated: “Leona Lewis will not be an overnight sensation.  She is the real deal and this is just the beginning of a long and illustrious career.” Comments Simon Cowell: “What Leona has achieved is simply incredible. This is the hardest market to crack and for her debut album to go in at number 1 is unbelievable.”

Leona’s introduction to the U.S. market began when she performed at Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Party in the new artist slot in February. Previously, Davis has presented artists such as Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood in this role, identifying them as the next important new voice in music. Leona performed her worldwide smash hit “Bleeding Love” on the The Oprah Winfrey Show Monday, March 17th and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Monday, March 24th.

The video for “Bleeding Love,” was selected for the coveted video channel programs MTV’s “Discover and Download” and Vh-1’s “You Oughta Know,“ and the track is the most played and most requested single at Top 40 and Rhythm Radio. Additionally, “Bleeding Love” was #1 most added and greatest gainer at Hot AC with the second highest single debut in Hot AC history, and was #1 most added at Mainstream AC stations its first week out.

Online, Leona is the #1 most viewed artist of all time on Clear Channel’s “New!” program.  Leona performed on Good Morning America, Live with Regis and Kelly, CBS Early Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, MTV’s “TRL”, all the week of release and made multiple appearances on Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Access Hollywood, Extra!, CNN, and E!. Leona is scheduled to perform “Bleeding Love” on The Tyra Banks Show on April 17th and American Idol on April 23rd.

Lewis, a 23-year-old London native and winner of the hit TV show the X Factor, Simon Cowell’s British talent show, has broken all-time sales records there with Spirit entering the album chart at Number One and becoming Britain’s fastest-selling debut ever. Spirit has scanned more than a 2.65 million copies worldwide since its release in November.

In addition, the album’s lead-off single “Bleeding Love” — co-written and produced by OneRepublic frontman Ryan “Alias” Tedder — was the U.K.’s best-selling single of 2007, claiming the Number One spot for seven weeks. Ushering in 2008, Leona received four prestigious Brit Award nominations, the U.K. equivalent of the Grammy Awards.

Album producers Clive Davis and Simon Cowell introduced Lewis to an all-star roster of collaborators to bring out her best on Spirit, including Tedder (currently enjoying his own hit with the ubiquitous “Apologize”), famed songwriter/producers Akon (Gwen Stefani, T-Pain), Ne-Yo (Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson), Dallas Austin (Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Pink), Stargate (Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ne-Yo), J.R. Rotem (Britney Spears, Sean Kingston), Max Martin (Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears), and Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald (Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne).

For the U.S. release, Leona recorded two brand new tracks for the U.S. release of Spirit – “Forgive Me” by singer/songwriter superstar Akon and “Misses Glass” from the cutting edge producer/writers Madd Scientist and Rock City.

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