Through the sheer force of her phenomenal talent, bold vision, and larger-than-life personality, pop singer Bleona has achieved international stardom. A beloved luminary in her native Albania since her teens, she’s sold more than 1.5 million albums, won multiple music awards, graced 35 magazine covers, and performed for millions of fans — all while operating as a completely independent artist.

Now poised for her American breakthrough, Bleona first hit U.S. audiences with Timbaland-produced tracks like 2010’s “Show Off” (feat. Petey Pablo) and 2012’s “Pass Out” (feat. Timbaland and Brasco). Her 2013 single, “Take It Like a Man,” shot to No. 7 on the UK charts, while 2014’s “F**k You I’m Famous” made its way into steady rotation on SiriusXM. On her forthcoming album, due in early 2016, Bleona broadens her appeal by teaming up with A-list producers like RoccStar (Usher, J.Lo), Fuego (Sia, Iggy Azalea), and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga) to bring to life the deeply melodic dance-pop found in lead single “Take You Over” (a song whose sensually charged video finds Bleona collaborating with director and high-photographer Dennis Leupold). While working on the album, Bleona also served as a celebrity judge on the Albanian The X Factor and became the breakout star of Bravo TV’s Euros of Hollywood, winning over viewers with her offbeat humor and outrageous personality.

Born in Korçë, Albania, Bleona Qereti took her first major step forward in her musical career by singing at Albania’s National Music Festival, the country’s premier music event, at age 14. She soon released I Run My Own Game (the first of her eight chart-busting albums) and began building her reputation as an electrifying live performer, eventually drawing in crowds of 50,000 at sold-out arena shows.

Making her home in L.A. in 2010, Bleona quickly amassed a following within the LGBT community and became the only artist, apart from Lady Gaga, to be invited to perform two years in a row at the legendary White Party. In the meantime, she invested in illustrious fashion photographers like Vogue’s Vincent Peters to create the elite global brand “BLEONA,” launched the e-commerce site, and started a fashion line in partnership with ShoeDazzle.

Through it all, Bleona has embraced the thrill of playing by her own rules and ultimately transforming herself into a global phenomenon. “I could have stayed back home and enjoyed my status there, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and take it to the next level,” Bleona says. “And I love the challenge of that more than anything. If you tell me, ‘No, this can’t be done,’ then guess what? That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”