X Factor winner Leona Lewis to become Hackney Empire patron
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
X Factor winner Leona Lewis has become an official patron of an iconic Hackney venue, which has just announced its next steps to reopen and celebrate its 120 year history.
The British singer-songwriter, who was born in Islington and raised in Hackney, has a long standing relationship with Mare Street's Hackney Empire.
Her official role will see her mentor young people at the performing arts theatre through its Creative Futures programme.
Leona said she was honoured to become a patron of one of "London's most loved and magical venues".
She said: "For me this feels like homecoming – it was on Hackney Empire’s legendary stage I won the first competition which started me on my journey as a professional artist, it’s the place I launched my album Echo, and is home to amazing memories of generations of my friends and family.
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"More recently during the pandemic it’s been a huge pleasure and inspiration to work with young people from Hackney Empire’s Creative Futures programme."
Leona has been working closely with a group of 25 young east and north London artists and musicians, aged 15-25, since December 2020.
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During an intimate Q&A session with the group on Zoom, she shared her own experiences and advice, about growing up in Hackney, winning X Factor and recording her next album in LA.
Since then Leona has hosted a series of workshops for the group offering personal mentoring and advice to each of the young artists, as well as bringing in guests from the music industry.
Meanwhile, the Empire's youth talent show Alter Ego will celebrate ten years this year with a filmed performance by previous finalists, to be released on July 23.
The theatre hopes to open its doors to a non-socially distanced audience in September, for the first time since the pandemic began and celebrations for its 120th anniversary will kick off in November.
Artistic Director Yamin Choudury added: “The last 16 months have been some of the most challenging we have experienced in recent memory, and what has kept many of us going is the idea of what those first nights back are going to feel like for us all."
Tickets are currently on sale for Hackney Empire's world-famous pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.
Found out more at hackneyempire.co.uk/whats-on