LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "I Am" is Leona Lewis' first post-Simon Cowell offering, but the aftermath of their professional split resonates throughout her fifth studio album.
"It was very hard and very nerve-racking because I didn't know what I'd be walking into once I left Simon. I had no idea," Lewis said. "I needed to kind of create my own path, and I went out and created the album based on ... the strength that it took to walk away from different situations."
Cowell signed the British-born singer to his label, Syco Music, after she won "The X-Factor" in 2006. In 2014, after collaborating on four albums over eight years, Lewis wrote an open letter to fans detailing her decision to leave Syco.
"I cannot make music that does not speak to my soul, and as scary as it seemed, I could no longer compromise myself, and so I decided to leave," Lewis, 30, said in a handwritten note posted on her Twitter account.
But in a recent interview, the "Bleeding Love" singer insisted there's no bad blood.
"Simon has been so amazing and instrumental in my career, but it was just time for me to move on and time for me to do something different, and I wanted to seek out a different label that had kind of a different energy," she said.
Lewis, who's signed with Universal's Island Records, said she's in a better place emotionally and aims to inspire with "I Am."
She sings about the courage to come back after being held down in the song "Thunder" and feeling stronger and freer on her own in the album's title track.
"I definitely have learned a lot about my own strength and how much I can take. I can take things into my own hands and take control of situations that maybe I wouldn't have before. So I wrote a lot about that," she said.