Leona Lewis is to set make history this week by becoming the first British female artist ever to debut at number one in the US album charts.

The X-Factor winner topped the singles chart Stateside with Bleeding Love in March, becoming the first UK female act to achieve a number one single in the US since Kim Wilde covered The Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On in 1987.

And according to industry newspaper Daily Variety, the 23-year-old is now set to repeat her UK success across the Atlantic by topping the Billboard album chart.

While official confirmation from chart monitors Nielsen Soundscan will be issued later on Wednesday, Leona's label J Records is already reporting that she will follow her chart-topping single triumph by grabbing the number one album.

With an expected 205,000 copies thought to have been sold in the first week of release, Leona's debut Spirit will also become the biggest-selling debut album in the US by a female artist since American Idol winner's Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts sold 314,500 in 2005.

X Factor judge Simon Cowell told Daily Variety that Leona's success was expected, but still a pleasant surprise for himself and BMG chief Clive Davis, who co-produced the album with Cowell.

"We took our time on the record," Cowell said. "I said, 'We're not going to rush this - we will release it when we are all happy with it.'

"Through Clive's help, we were able to work with top songwriters, and when we had Bleeding Love,' we were able to use [X Factor] as a launch pad."

Davis also explained that while Spirit was released in the UK to coincide with the latest series of X Factor - won by Leon Jackson - J Records were able to continue working on the album before its US debut.

"They had to come up with an album at the end of the year because of the TV show. We didn't have to meet a time deadline," he explained.

"This was someone with a special voice," Davis added. "It was good to include something that was not another entry into the hit [record] sweepstakes. We wanted a wide demographic appeal."

Spirit became the fastest-selling debut album ever in the UK after its November 2007 release, selling 12,000 copies more than the previous holder of the crown, Arctic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, while her singles A Moment Like This and Bleeding Love have seen Leona achieve the biggest-sellling single in the UK for the past two years.

16/04/2008 08:28:53