The success of Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" not only made the British-born singer an international star last year _ it also helped her branch out and toughen up.
"I'm quite a sensitive person and I'm quite introvert, but I've learned that I'm stronger than I thought and I can take more than I thought I can. Sometimes I have to push myself, but like I am definitely stronger than I thought I was," the 24-year-old says.
Lewis says that newfound strength is all over her sophomore CD, "Echo," out on Tuesday.
"I think the songs are very epic," she says of the disc, which features collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Max Martin and Ryan Tedder, who produced the first single, "Happy."
In a recent interview, the singer talked about gaining confidence, her fans and the inspirations behind "Echo."
The Associated Press: When were some of the moments when you've had to be stronger?
Lewis: I think in certain situations where you've had like negative comments or anything like that, usually that can like really effect you. And me especially because I'm really sensitive. I've just learned that for like that one percent that is bad, there's like 99 percent that's good and that's what you have to hang on to.
AP: You say you're more confident on this CD compared to your debut, "Spirit." Why?
Lewis: I've had much more time with this album. I feel very passionate about all of the songs. I've put everything into this album.
AP: Why did you decide to go back in the studio with Ryan Tedder?
Lewis: I just wanted to go back in with Ryan because he did "Bleeding Love" and we really get along and he's super, super talented. ... I'd say we've really gotten to know each other much more. He just brings something out of me that kind of needs to be brought out sometimes, from writing to music and vocals. He's a vocalist himself, it's great to work with people who are vocalists, producers who can sing as well because they really understand about what to do, where to go melody-wise and stuff.
AP: He's gone off to produce for Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson, among others. What do you think he's learned from you?
Lewis: He'd been producing a lot before ... and of course "Bleeding Love" was his first major, major song. He's just kind of learned from me about working with artists, and things like that. I don't know, we just bring something out of each other that just comes alive in the studio.
AP: The first single "Happy" _ is it a reflection of a bad relationship?
Lewis: "Happy" didn't start off as something that was about a relationship. It just started off in general life _ someone being like told to do this, and told to do that, and not really wanting to do that. But then it kind of just transcended into being able to be relatable to someone who's just been broken up with or who's broken up with someone to better themselves. It kind of turned into something that relates to everything.
AP: What's been the biggest challenge since you've faced?
Lewis: Adjusting to the fact that people know you now a bit more. I've still kind of maintained a low profile but people still kind of recognize you and will come up to you and that's taken a bit of getting used to.
AP: Get a lot of fans thinking you're like a family member?
Lewis: Yeah. In the U.K. they feel like they really know me. Like I'm their sister or something, which is really sweet. I've got a lot of love there and a lot of support, because people have seen me come up like that. It's definitely special I think.
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