Leona Lewis relives "magical" childhood memory in musical, "Cats"

Singer Leona Lewis on "Cats"
Singer Leona Lewis on "Cats" 04:53

The Tony-winning musical, "Cats," made an impression that stuck with one 7-year-old girl forever, when her mom took her to see the original production in London.

"I just remember it was so magical. It blew me away. And that song in particular stuck in my head. ... I remember going to my singing teacher and asked her if I could learn the song and singing it in my little baby voice," British singer Leona Lewis, now 31, said.

Lewis is singing that very song on Broadway, in the revival of the classic musical in New York City.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, also from the U.K., described the singer as having "one of the greatest voices" of her generation.

Leona Lewis as Grizabella in "Cats"

"It's incredible ... that I get to come here and perform in one of his shows," Lewis told "CBS This Morning" Wednesday.

Lewis arrived on the entertainment scene through the hit British TV show, the "X Factor," where she took the crown on the third season in 2006. Lewis launched her career just as YouTube started to gain traction, which gave her a global platform. In 2008, her song "Bleeding Love" earned her two Grammy nominations and also became the best-selling single worldwide. That same year, she became the first British female solo artist to top the U.S. Billboard 200 chart in more than 20 years with her debut album, "Spirit."

But the song that's perhaps had a more personal impact is "Better In Time."

"I have a lot of reaction to that song in particular. It's so true and it's so poignant," Lewis said. "It will get better in time and the scars do fade and you do heal and you could apply it to a relationship, you could apply it to a traumatic event that's happened in your life."

From mastering the musical's signature song to doing her own makeup for every show - because of the large cast - Lewis has now also transformed into a Broadway star. In fact, in order to immerse fully into her feline character, she and the cast spent two days pretending to be cats.

"When we first got in, you're in a room full of people you've never met before and the director was like, 'Okay, cool, we're going to act like cats for the day,' and we were just like crawling around, you have to eat like a cat, take a nap as a cat. ... Yeah, so we were cats and kind of got to know each other real quick through that process," Lewis said.