Leon Jackson

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Leon Jackson
Leon Jackson at the premiere of The Golden Compass.jpg
Jackson attending the premiere of The Golden Compass in London, November 2007
Background information
Birth nameLeon Jackson
Born (1988-12-30) 30 December 1988 (age 32)
Origin Whitburn, West Lothian, Scotland
Genres Pop, jazz, acoustic
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active2007–present
Labels Sony BMG, Syco, RCA Records
Associated acts Michael Bublé
Website leonjacksonmusic.com

Leon Jackson (born 30 December 1988) is a Scottish singer. He won the fourth series of British talent show The X Factor in 2007. Following his win, Jackson was the main star of his on-web series entitled Leon's Life, which ran from 2007 until 2008. [1] Jackson's début album, Right Now (2008) finished the year as the 75th best-selling album in the UK, and included the singles, "Don't Call This Love", "Creative" and "Stargazing".


Jackson's debut single, "When You Believe", a cover of a song sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and composed and written by Stephen Schwartz, sold over 400,000 copies, [2] and was the 92nd best-selling single of the 2000s in the UK, [3] and was the third best-selling of 2007. [3] Jackson had the best selling single from a British Male Artist in 2007 [3] beating the likes of Mika, Take That and Mark Ronson in the best-selling male category, and being beaten by Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love" and Rihanna's "Umbrella" to the number one and number two positions, respectively. [3]

As of 2016, Jackson has had one UK number one single, two UK top ten singles and one UK top five album and overall has spent a total number of thirteen weeks in the UK Singles Charts top seventy-five with his three charted singles and nine week in the UK Album Charts top seventy-five with his debut album. [4] His winners single, "When You Believe" currently ranks as the seventh best-selling X Factor winners single beating off competition from the likes of Little Mix with "Cannonball", Sam Bailey with "Skyscraper" and Louisa Johnson with "Forever Young". [5] His debut album also ranks as the eighth best-selling debut album from an X Factor winner, beating Ben Haenow with his self-titled debut album and Joe McElderry with Wide Awake . [5]

Life and career

1988–2007: Early life

Leon Jackson was born in Whitburn, West Lothian, Scotland. [6] Before pursuing his singing career, he worked as a retail sales assistant with Gap. He is a supporter of Rangers. [7] He was a fan of contemporary jazz, his hero being Michael Bublé, and he has stated that during his early years, karate and singing were the only things that made him happy. [8] He got his black belt at the age of 10. [9] Before he appeared on The X Factor, Jackson was planning to attend Edinburgh Napier University, studying architectural technology.

Leon started singing in public in January 2007. He wanted to pursue a career in music so he entered X Factor and, after doing well in the competition, deferred his place at Edinburgh Napier. [8]

2007–2008: The X Factor

In 2007, Leon Jackson auditioned for the fourth series of The X Factor in Glasgow, being filmed at the city's Crowne Plaza Hotel. During the show, he was mentored by Dannii Minogue. After progressing through the rounds, he reached the final on 15 December 2007, in which he performed a duet with Kylie Minogue of "Better the Devil You Know", as well as three other songs. After the public vote, he was declared winner, receiving a £1 million recording contract with Simon Cowell's company Syco, a division of Sony BMG. [10]

Jackson was an outsider to win the competition, and his victory was described as "the biggest shock in the history of reality TV betting." [11] X Factor judge Louis Walsh later said that Jackson had won the vote by about 10%. [12] A number of viewers complained to watchdog Ofcom that they were unable to get through to vote for Jackson's rival Rhydian Roberts, but an Ofcom investigation found that Roberts had not been unfairly disadvantaged. [13] [14] [15] More than 12 million people watched the final of Leon winning. Jackson described winning as "not real". [15]

In December 2007, Jackson was invited to perform with Canadian performer Michael Bublé at Wembley Arena, singing Bublé's "Home" because Bublé was so impressed by his singing ability. Jackson later said this had been the highlight of his life, because Bublé is his idol. Leon was the first and so far only X Factor contestant to perform at Wembley while still in the competition. [16] with Rhydian Roberts the runner-up and Dannii Minogue emerging as the winning mentor. [11]

The series hit the headlines even before recording began. Some of the controversy centred upon whether 14 and 15-year-olds should be eligible to enter, and also on the high-profile dismissals of judge Louis Walsh and presenter Kate Thornton, [17] [18] to be replaced by choreographer and Grease Is the Word judge Brian Friedman and Big Brother's Little Brother host Dermot O'Leary respectively. Before hiring Freidman and Minogue, Cowell had apparently approached colleague and fellow American Idol judge Randy Jackson, and close friend and X Factor mentor Sinitta. Walsh, however, was quickly reinstated, with Friedman becoming the show's choreographer. Jackson's prize as winner was a £1 million recording contract. [19] His first single release was "When You Believe", arranged for the finalists by composer Stephen Schwartz and released to download on 16 December 2007, with the physical format following on 19 December. The single became that year's Christmas Number One in the UK Singles Chart. The series was Sharon Osbourne's final series as a judge and was replaced the following year by Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole.

On 11 February 2008, Jackson began the "X Factor Live" tour in the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland with Rhydian Roberts, Same Difference and the eight other finalists from the 2007 show. They continued the tour in other venues around the UK until 21 March when the tour finished at London's Wembley Arena, thus concluding The X Factor 2007.

2008–2009: Right Now

Jackson performing live during the Right Now UK Tour (2009) Jacksoninbirgminahm.jpg
Jackson performing live during the Right Now UK Tour (2009)

Jackson's debut single, a cover of the Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey duet "When You Believe" went on sale as a download from midnight on Sunday, 16 December 2007 and as a CD on Wednesday, 19 December 2007. The debut single is set to be the fastest-selling single of 2007, with sales predicted to reach 300,000 by Sunday. [20] At Woolworths the single at its peak was selling 40 copies per minute. [21] Bookmakers reportedly stopped taking bets on who would get the 2007 Christmas number-one single, as "Leon [was] practically guaranteed top spot". [22] "When You Believe" indeed reached number one in the UK on 23 December 2007. This made Jackson the first Scottish artist to achieve a Christmas number one.[ citation needed ]

Jackson appeared as a celebrity guest on the first live episode of series five of The X Factor on 11 October 2008, to perform the first single, "Don't Call This Love", from his upcoming album Right Now . The song was released the next day, and peaked at No. 3 on the UK singles chart and No. 8 in Ireland. [23]

Right Now was released on 20 October 2008. [24] It debuted at No. 4 on the UK Top 40 Albums chart the week of 26 October 2008. [25] It remained in the Top 40 for three weeks total, before slipping out of the Top 40 [26] [27] [28] but remaining in the Top 75 for an additional six weeks. [29] The album debuted on the Ireland Top 75 Albums chart at No. 7 for the week of 23 October 2008, staying on that chart for a total of five weeks. [29] The second single from the album, "Creative", was released as a download-only purchase in late 2008. It peaked at No. 94 on 29 November 2008 on the UK Singles chart. [30] The third and final single, "Stargazing", was released to radio stations in January 2009. It was also made available for purchase as a download-only single. [31] The help promote Right Now, Jackson performed on various UK TV Shows such GMTV, This Morning and The X Factor. Jackson's first single When You Believe which reached No. 1 in the UK [32] was performed by Jackson in December 2007 to help promote the single. He performed it on GMTV, The X Factor and This Morning.

In July 2008, Bublé again invited Jackson to join him on stage at the Glasgow SECC for a duet of "Lost". [33] In December 2008, Jackson performed at the 2008 Hogmanay Event in Edinburgh. [34] However, in 2007 Jackson pulled out of the event due to tonsillitis where he would have been playing with Scottish singer Amy MacDonald. [35]

The album sold 130,000 copies and Jackson was dropped from the Sony BMG label. [36] Jackson proceeded to work with writers who have worked with Paolo Nutini and James Morrison. Jackson said that he was focusing on preparing for an upcoming concert tour of the UK, which would take place in May and June 2009. [37]

Scottish singer and songwriter Sandi Thom had lined up Jackson as a Supporting Guest Act in Glasgow as part of her Homecoming Scotland 2009 Tour. [38] As of April 2009 half of the concert dates had been cancelled by the management. The reason why the dates were cancelled is unknown, but Leon said he was "gutted" at the cancellations and that it was not his doing. [39] All but two of the joint tour days from England and Wales remained (with support act Same Difference playing a solo tour gig in Portsmouth), [40] while seven of the nine tour dates in Scotland remained. [41]

2010–11: Departure from Sony and second album

In 2009, Jackson confirmed that he was working on a brand new studio album which would be more acoustic in style, different from the jazz and soul genre of his debut album Right Now . [42] Even though Jackson has failed to find another record deal since he got dropped by his label Sony BMG in March 2009, he hopes to release the album independently. [43]

Leon travelled to Los Angeles in May 2010 to work with songwriters to come up with tracks for his new sound. He worked with artists, including Ernie Halter, to create piano and guitar led songs, as well as writing some himself. Whilst in L.A, he also performed at 'The Gypsy Lounge' with American artists. [44]

In May 2010, Jackson was announced as the 2nd biggest reality TV flop, winning 76% of the 1,300 people polled, losing out only to Steve Brookstein. [45] [46] [47] He has vowed never to perform When You Believe again, calling his X-Factor success a curse [48] and revealing he was no longer in contact with former mentor Dannii Minogue or Simon Cowell subsequent to being dropped by Syco Music. [49] Jackson said he felt "crushed" by Cowell after finding out through the newspaper that Cowell had dropped him. [50]

Jackson then announced a summer tour in 2010 where he would perform his new acoustic sound. The first date was at the Half Moon, Putney, London on 8 June. Leon performed guitar and piano-led songs. [51] The second date was at the ABC Glasgow on 10 July, where he sold out the show and more tickets were put on sale due to popular demand. [52] The final date of the tour was on 31 July at the O2 Academy Birmingham, where Jackson again performed new songs written by himself and American songwriters. [53]

On 16 February 2011, Jackson attended the 2011 BRIT Awards as part of the Universal Records after-party. [54] Jackson has been writing new material and taught himself to play the guitar and piano, which he has brought into his new songs. Some of the new songs include 'Never Left The Ground', 'Ode to Isabel', 'The Other Side', 'See It Through Your Eyes' and 'Wounded by Love'. [43] Jackson will debut at least four new songs at several summer festivals in 2011. [55]

2012–present: New Music and The Voice UK

Jackson co-wrote The Voice UK 's contestant Vince Kidd's debut single - Sick Love - along with Kidd.[ citation needed ]

Other ventures

Jackson supports the Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), a Scottish charity established to provide hospice services in Scotland for children and young people with life-limiting conditions. According to Jackson's own website: “As far as team Leon is concerned music is about life not the other way round. It’s a privilege to be able use your gifting to bring joy to people, travelling and paying the bills is a bonus". [56]

Following Jackson's X Factor win in 2007, Jackson appeared in his own web series, Leon's Life, which was solely broadcast on the social networking site, Bebo. [57]

Award show appearances

In April 2008, Leon Jackson was awarded the Sunday Mail Young Scot Award at Glasgow City Hall for being a positive role model to young people. [58] In 2011, Jackson was the host of the Sunday Mail 2011 Young Scot Awards which were held in August 2011 in Glasgow at the Glasgow International Hilton Hotel.

In May 2011, he was nominated at the Johnnie Walker Blue Label "Great" Awards. [59]

Concert tours




Studio albums


See also

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Preceded by
Leona Lewis
Winner of The X Factor
Succeeded by
Alexandra Burke