I Am is the fifth studio album by British singer and songwriter Leona Lewis. It was released on 11 September 2015, by Island Records after Lewis took leave from Syco Music in June 2014. Recording began in mid 2013, during the production of Lewis’s first Christmas and fourth studio album, Christmas, with Love (2013). Recording sessions resumed in January 2014 with producer Poet,Toby Gad and Wayne Wilkins. I Am is preceded by the release of «Fire Under My Feet» and the album’s title track except for in the United States where «Thunder» precedes the album.
In February 2013, a representative from Syco Music, Lewis’ record label, announced that she was about to start writing and recording material «imminently» for her fourth studio album, and that it would be released in late 2013. The news came after Lewis announced that she had parted ways from Modest! Management, the management team who had represented her since she won the third series of The X Factor in 2006. Various media outlets speculated that this was due to the weak commercial performance of her third studio album, Glassheart, which was released in November 2012. It became her first album to not debut at number one or earn platinum certification in the United Kingdom. In August 2013, Lewis confirmed that she was in the process of recording her first Christmas album, and that label boss and friend, Simon Cowell, came up with the idea. Lewis released Christmas, with Lovein November 2013; it peaked at number 13 on the UK Albums Chart and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 27 December 2013, denoting shipments of more than 100,000 copies.
On 23 September 2013, it was announced that Lewis would make her acting debut in Walking on Sunshine, a 1980s-inspired musical film. In an interview with Digital Spy on 27 November 2013, Lewis confirmed that she would begin official recording sessions for her fifth studio album in January 2014, after she had finished promoting Christmas, with Love. She revealed that during the production of Christmas, with Love in Summer 2013, she had met with some producers to conceptualise a theme for the album, but that the main focus at the time was to compose songs for the Christmas album. With regard to style and composition, Lewis said that 2013 allowed her to become re-inspired; she stated that after recording songs for Walking on Sunshine, she wanted the album to have a 1980s sound. Later, however, after she recorded Motown inspired songs for the Christmas album, it allowed her to «just get out of [her] head and go into something completely different», stating that she is now leaning towards a «retro throwback sound» as a possible theme for the album.
In an interview for the Daily Star on 3 January 2014, Lewis said that by performing Christmas, with Love ’s lead single, «One More Sleep«, she had begun to smile again. She commented that she never smiles when performing, due to being «drawn to melancholy, heart-wrenching melodies,» and that she had enjoyed doing something different. The singer confirmed that the majority of the album would be more «fun» with a Motown feel, and that some «non-festive» Motown songs have already been put aside which she recorded during the production of Christmas, with Love throughout mid 2013. In the same interview, Lewis said she would like to collaborate with American rock band, Haim.
On 3 June 2014, it was announced that Lewis had parted ways with her record label of seven years, Syco Music. Label boss and mentor Simon Cowell tweeted: «Congratulations Leona. We had 7 great years together and now wish you all the best for the future. You put X Factor on the map.» Lewis confirmed that she had signed a new contract in the United Kingdom with rival record company Island Records, a division of the Universal Music Group. On joining the label, Lewis said: «After seven incredible years at Sony I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to sign to perhaps the most iconic label of all, Island Records.» Lewis later revealed that her departure from Syco had come after «several years» of consideration. She also stated that when she expressed her desire to part with the label she was threatened that the public would be told she had been dropped by the label. However, further creative differences in relation to her fifth studio album finally caused Lewis to leave the label. Of her departure, she stated:
|“||I was asked to make a record that would not have been true to myself. By all means as an artist in this climate, I was thankful to even get the chance to make another record. But I cannot make music that does not speak to my soul, and as scary as it seemed, I could no longer compromise myself, and so I decided to leave.||”|
On 27 November 2013, Lewis stated that, during the production of Christmas, With Love in the Summer of 2013, she met with a couple of producers to conceptualize a theme for the album. She confirmed that official recording sessions for the album would begin in January 2014. She also stated that she recently «reached out» to a couple of different song-writers and producers and expressed her desire to work with Bruno Mars and his frequent collaborators, The Smeezingtons. On 19 December 2013, Lewis confirmed that she had recorded a couple of songs with Poet, who has produced material for the Black Eyed Peas, as well as some other unnamed producers. She stated her intentions of going back into the studio with Poet. On 30 August 2014, Lewis revealed that she had spent the week in the studio working with Jesse Shatkin, who co-wrote «Chandelier» for Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler. On 10 September, Diane Warren confirmed that she and Lewis would be working together.
Thomas Elrewine from Allmusic stated: «Lewis seizes this fourth album to redefine her sound [throwing] herself into a buoyant bounce somewhat inspired by reigning British diva, Adele….The songs [on the album] are passionate and sharply crafted […] resulting in her strongest compositions……and her best best album yet».
Release and promotion
On 19 December 2014 Lewis posted a short clip of her performing a new song and playing the piano, while a member of her band played the drums.
On 12 February 2015; Lewis uploaded a video on YouTube that showed her recording «Fire Under My Feet«. On 16 February 2015; another video was uploaded, showing Lewis recording several other songs from the album.
On 14 April 2015, Lewis hosted an album showcase listening party for I Am. Lewis performed five songs from the album for the first time: The lead single «Fire Under My Feet», the title track «I Am», «I Got You», «Ladders», and «Thank You». Two days later, on 16 April 2015, the artwork for the standard edition of the album was revealed.
On 21 April 2015 a new video was uploaded via Lewis’ official YouTube account; it documents the recording process of «Fire Under My Feet». It also showed the photoshoot that took place for both the single and the album, while a snippet of «Fire Under My Feet» was also played during the video.
The tracklist for the standard and deluxe edition were first revealed by Amazon.co.uk on 24 June 2015, while artwork for the deluxe edition was unveiled the following day. On 26 June 2015 Universal Music placed pre-orders for I Am on their official website. On 27 June 2015, the album was made available for pre-order on iTunes.
I Am Tour
On 11 September 2015, Leona announced her third headlining concert tour to support the album, with an initial run of fourteen dates in the United Kingdom.
|21 February 2016||Liverpool||England||Liverpool Empire Theatre|
|22 February 2016||Sheffield||Sheffield City Hall|
|24 February 2016||Manchester||Manchester Bridgewater Hall|
|25 February 2016||Gateshead||The Sage Gateshead|
|27 February 2016||Bournemouth||Bournemouth International Centre|
|28 February 2016||Birmingham||Symphony Hall|
|1 March 2016||Bristol||Bristol Colston Hall|
|2 March 2016||Cardiff||Wales||St David’s Hall|
|4 March 2016||London||England||London Palladium|
|5 March 2016|
|7 March 2016||Ipswich||Regent Theatre|
|8 March 2016||Glasgow||Scotland||Clyde Auditorium|
|10 March 2016||Nottingham||England||Royal Concert Hall|
|11 March 2016||Plymouth||Plymouth Pavilions|
The album’s lead single, «Fire Under My Feet«, was released on 7 June 2015. Written by Lewis and Toby Gad, the track peaked at number 51 on the UK Singles Chart following its release. In addition, it peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 100 Hot Dance charts. «I Am» was released to the iTunes Store in the UK on 22 July 2015 as the second single in the UK. «Thunder» will be released as the third official single from I Am and will also serve as the lead release from the album in US markets. It impacted US adult contemporaryradio on 27 July 2015, and will impact contemporary hit radio in September.
|I Am – Standard edition|
|2.||«Fire Under My Feet«||
|3.||«You Knew Me When»||Diane Warren||
|6.||«The Essence of Me»||
|7.||«I Got You»||
|9.||«Another Love Song»||
|I Am – Deluxe edition|
|I Am – Japanese edition|
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||82|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||83|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||44|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||33|
|Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)||49|
|Irish Albums (IRMA)||22|
|Scottish Albums (OCC)||11|
|UK Albums (OCC)||12|
|US Billboard 200||38|
|Ireland||11 September 2015||
|United States||Def Jam|||
Here is a single of her new album: