Published Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Updated Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 | 12:29 p.m.
Leona Lewis Better in Time
One Night for One Drop Quest for Water
“X Factor” winner Leona Lewis, the singer-songwriter with the amazing four-octave, mezzo-soprano vocal range, has sold 20 million albums since she won her $1.3 million recording contract with Simon Cowell’s record label from Season 3 of the hit British TV show.
Now the 30-year-old animal-welfare campaigner is about to make her debut on the Las Vegas stage as the star headliner of Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” fundraiser March 18 at the Smith Center.
Leona gave a preview of the fourth-annual, one-night-only event during rehearsals at Zarkana Theater in Aria that a select group were invited to watch. I talked with her after her riveting performance sung center stage for two ballet dancers at her side.
For the first time since these celebrations to benefit those across the world without access to safe water in addition to Southern Nevada projects, artists from other Las Vegas shows, including “Jubilee” at Bally’s, will join with Cirque performers as the 100-strong cast.
“It’s about 50-50,” new director and former “The Beatles Love” at the Mirage performer and choreographer Hassan El Hajjami told me. (French-Moroccan artists Hassan, 38, goes by the stage name Haspop.)
Leona’s other guest star will be Mice from the hit ABC comedy “Black-ish” played by 9-year-old hip-hop dancer Miles Brown, who embarks on a quest for water emulating the director’s own story of his grandmother’s water woes in Morocco. Check back later today for our Q+A with Hassan.
Miles also is known as Baby Baby Boogaloo. He plays the adorable 6-year-old twin son of Rainbow Johnson in the series played by Diana Ross’s daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross.
Here is our Q+A with Leona:
When Cirque approached you, did you fall in love with their shows, or was it their message about global water needs?
It was both really; I think it was quite equal. First of all, Cirque du Soleil is very inspiring for me as an artist. When I put on my shows, I definitely like to have a certain amount of theatrics just for it to look beautiful, and a lot of the Cirque shows have inspired that.
I was, like, “Wow, this is going to be amazing.” Then when I read up on One Drop and what they’re doing to ensure fresh running water around the world, obviously they’re doing amazing things, so I wanted to get involved.
Where does your remarkable voice come from?
My dad says it’s him! I don’t know, really. I just always sang as a little child. I’ve always honed in on my singing because it was something that used to make me happy, as I didn’t really fit in much as a child. I used my voice as a way to escape things.
What Cirque shows have you seen?
I think I’ve seen all of them apart from “Michael Jackson One” and “Zumanity.” I haven’t seen a “One Drop” show before. I’ve seen clips of it of last year’s and the year before, but I haven’t been present in the audience before.
One Night for One Drop
It’s a remarkable, emotional night. It really drives home the fact that there are still people living in the world who can’t turn on the tap and get H2O out of it.
It’s crazy. Definitely as an artist obviously coming together and bringing music to create awareness, these are the things that fulfill me. This to me is meaningful, this is what I want to be a part of.
I feel like sometimes you just get caught up in what you’re doing, but when I get to do stuff like this that speaks to who I really am, I love to be involved.
You sang one song today. How many songs do you do in the entire show?
I’m going to be doing two songs in the entire show, then I’ll be making an appearance throughout, so we’re working on that now. I’m in the show throughout, but not singing all the time. I’m part of the dream-like sequence.
How’s it feel to be an English girl in America? Do you live in America now?
I live between London and Los Angeles. I go back and forth a lot because a lot of the people I work and write with are in L.A. There are actually a lot of British people, which is nice, so I don’t feel too far away.
I always have the option to go back home because I love being close to my friends and family, and I do get a little bit homesick.
For this show, I’ll commute between L.A. and Las Vegas, but you do have a direct flight to London if need be.
I like Las Vegas. For me, recently, it’s been to see the Cirque shows. I don’t really do much of anything else when I’m here apart from watch the performances.
I’m going to come back and see Lionel Richie because we have the same manager, and I want to see the J.Lo show. I like coming and seeing performances because the productions in Las Vegas are so epic.
You just don’t get shows like that really, for production value, anyway. They’re almost as epic as a Cirque spectacular. My favorite was Celine Dion.
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Leona Lewis stars with 100 other performers in “One Night for One Drop: Quest for Water” by Cirque du Soleil at the Smith Center on March 18.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.