Songland Recap: Leona Lewis Finds a Song That ‘Speaks To My Soul’

Leona Lewis had a tough decision between these four songs...

Written by Tammy Ragusa
Songland Recap: Leona Lewis Finds a Song That ‘Speaks To My Soul’
SONGLAND -- "Leona Lewis" -- Pictured: (l-r) Ryan Tedder, Ester Dean, Leona Lewis, Shane McAnally -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Lives are being changed every week on NBC’s new hit competition series, Songland, as the backbone of the music industry, the songwriters, welcome rising creative minds into their fold. And this week was no exception as a new crop of aspiring writers vied for the opportunity to have their original songs heard by producers Ester Dean, Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder, along with special guest artist Leona Lewis.

Leona was especially significant for Ryan whose first No.1 as a songwriter/producer came from her hit “Bleeding Love.” Before the young writers came out, Leona said, “I’m looking for a song that gives me goosebumps, that speaks to my soul.”

And she got it… times four.

Die-hard country music fans may have recognized the first writer to perform in the evening’s competition. Olivia Lane, a native of Houston, Texas, presented her original composition, “Perfect Skin.” The tune about empowering women by going deeper than the surface struck a chord with both Leona and Ester, while Shane and Ryan were more interested in melody and arrangement.

The next writer, Rozee from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, wrote her song, “Fighting For Us,” at the end of a 2 1/2 year relationship. Leona immediately loved it but suggested a rewrite of the chorus. Shane suggested a change in the rhyme scheme so Rozee wouldn’t have to keep using the same word repeatedly. Ester also explained that any of their remarks are only to make any of the songs work for the artists that would be recording them and with Leona being British, sometimes verbiage was different.

The third writer to offer his original song was Rafferty. The Salt Lake City, Utah native explained that while selling real estate by day, he was writing songs by night. Starting “A Heart Full of Love” a capella, the professionals were visibly moved when he broke into the chorus. “I love you,” Shane said. “This lyric is so universal,” Leona said. “And I love how you’re not scared to be vulnerable.”

Annabel Lee of North Dighton, Massachusetts was the final songwriter to present her original song, “Ugliest Love.” The edgiest of all of the tunes performed, it caught the pro writers ears as a solid fit for Leona. “I love everything about you,” Ester said, while Leona chimed in, “it’s exciting to watch you.”

Before the three songwriters were chosen to continue with their assigned producers, Ester was incredibly honest about the art of songwriting. She told her fellow artists, “We barely know how to make a hit until we make one.”

The writers that Leona chose to continue in the competition were Rafferty with “A Heart Full of Love,” Olivia with “Perfect Skin” and Rozee with “Fighting For Us.”

During Rozee’s session with Ryan, he programmed tracks that gave the song an almost Caribbean feel. He also wanted to hear Spanish. Rozee said, “This is going to be a completely different song and I’m OK with that.”

Rafferty and Shane worked on reworking the lyrics to make them more relevant for Leona. “We’re taking a love song and making a heartbreak song,” Shane explained.

Olivia and Ester also worked on refining the lyrics as well as making some melodic changes. Ester said she wanted to bring in some powerhouse vocals into the mix.

After the three rising writers presented the revised versions of their songs, Leona had the difficult task of choosing one to record. Overcome with emotion as she spoke to the writers, she explained how she came from a similar show (The X Factor). “I know how big this can be for all of you,” she said. “It’d kind go surreal. I still feel like I’m in a bit of a dream.” With that, she selected the one that had changed the most—Rozee’s re-titled “Solo Quiero (Somebody to Love).”

Be sure to check out the songs that have been featured on Songland through your favorite digital provider.