‘Leona’s magic will give her an amazing career in the States’, says Kim Wilde

X Factor winner Leona Lewis this week scored a US No. 1 – the first British woman to top the American singles chart since KIM WILDE in 1987. Leona’s track Bleeding Love – last year’s best selling UK single – soared to the No. 1 spot in the States this week. Wilde, 47, who had a huge hit with The Supremes’ ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’, is now a gardening writer and TV presenter. Here, the mum of two recalls her success and offers Leona some advice…

‘Leona’s success has been incredible, considering she is just 22. Her voice is effortless and beautiful, and she also has a lovely natural quality to her personality.
It is almost impossible to pin down what makes an artist acceptable to an American audience. It’s such a vast country and so many cards have to fall just right. It is not always just about talent, it is almost a magic equation that Leona has got right.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Leona will have an amazing career in America. She may even become the most successful British female artist ever to go there.


‘During the years after my American No. 1, I spent more time focusing on the UK and Continental Europe so we never emulated the success of Hangin’ On again in the US. But what has happened to Leona brought back very happy memories for me. I have an idea of what her life is like at the moment and she should relish it.
‘The promotional trip I went on across America before my single went to No. 1 was a hoot. I have some great memories, like sitting in a Jacuzzi staring up at the stars in the middle of the desert. Or cruising through New York in a stretch limo gazing at the skyscrapers thinking: ‘Wow, it doesn’t get much better than this, Kim.’
‘It really was like living in a movie and I’m sure that is what Leona will be experiencing. One tip I would give her would be to keep a diary. That is one thing I regret because it would be great to look back at those memories. I had returned to England when the single went to Number One and was coming out of a dentist’s when my mum rang and broke the news. People ask how I celebrated but I think I had a couple of Nurofen and went to bed!
‘One of the things that added to my sanity and longevity was the fact that I was working closely with my family — my father and brother who wrote my songs and my mum who managed me. Having a team you can trust is so important because it allows you to focus on the creative side. All the travelling can be exhausting. One thing I eventually learned, after crashing a couple of times, was that you have to pace yourself.
‘The repercussions of having a US No. 1 were huge for me. It certainly gave my career far greater longevity than I could have imagined aged 26. I was asked to support Michael Jackson on tour which I am convinced was a result of my single’s success. I still get at least one person a week saying they saw me on that tour.
‘And I am still reaping the benefits of my American success today. I am asked to play lots of concerts, and whenever I sing that song the audience still goes wild.
‘I loved America’s energy. You can dream a big dream and it happens. But Leona needs to be careful what she wishes for, because there is a good chance it will come true. An old friend once gave me a good piece of advice – to look at success and failure as the imposters they both are. She must not be afraid to make mistakes. You can learn a lot from them.’