When people hear the name Emeli Sande (pronounced em-el-ee san-dee), they usually ask who the hell she is in the next breath. Although a newcomer to the pop scene in America, Emeli Sande is one of the biggest new artists coming out of Great Britain. After releasing her debut album “Our Version of Events” back in February, Sande has journeyed full speed ahead with out looking back.
Before making a name for herself as a singer, Emeli was penning hits for some of England’s most popular artists. She recently got a chance to write songs with ‘The X Factor UK” breakout performer Susan Boyle. She calls that moment one of the fondest since she’s been in the business. Sande is also working on Alicia Keys‘ new project. (More on that later.) What really made America take notice of the singer was her beautiful performance at the closing ceremony during this year’s Olympics.
We recently spoke to Emeli Sande where we decided to do something a little different. We gave ourselves six minutes to get to know Emeli Sande. In those six minutes, we tried to get her thoughts on her growing singing career, how she felt singing at the Olympics, and her opinion on NBC not airing her first performance. If you haven’t already, get familiar with Emeli Sande.
TUD: As a new artist how did it feel to have been involved with the Olympics?
ES: Pretty mental. I released my record in the UK in February. To have that opportunity, to have people like Danny Boyle (director of “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Kim Gaben (Olympic Ceremonies producer), who did the closing, come up to me asking, ‘Will you be involved in our show?’ was pretty mind-blowing. To be involved in something so big was pretty incredible. Especially the opening performance because I was singing a hymn that’s such an important hymn to so many people. For me, I really wanted to do the lyrics and the hymn justice. I was thinking to myself, ‘This is never gonna happen again in your life.’ So I really tried to enjoy every moment and take it all in.
We didn’t get to see your opening performance because NBC didn’t air it in America. Did you hear about that and what was your first reaction when you heard about that?
Yeah, I heard about that. I read about it the day after. I’m quite disappointed because I just felt it was such an important part of the show. It was just such a beautiful part of the ceremony and it really made sense. It was a memorial to people who have died in the terrorist attacks in London. I felt quite sad that they didn’t want to show that. But, you know, I don’t know the reason.
I read that you went from being a medical student to jumping into the music industry. What was the turning point that made you just say, ‘You know what? I’m not going to be a doctor. I want to be a musician?’
Well, I think it was my fourth year in med school, and I had a trip to New York to come and write for a few artists who were on J Records, actually. And then I came and wrote for a week. Seeing the buzz of the city and seeing people working full-time and living. This is whole new world that you’re just really not aware of in med school. It’s never something that you see and really feels tangible. Coming over here and seeing that for me was like, ‘Man, this is what I want to do.’ And if I’m good enough for this stage for people to want me to come write with their artists over here then this is realistic. I can do this for a career. That was definitely a pushing point for me. Like, ‘Okay, this could be real.’
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When you became a professional, full-time songwriter, what was it like to go from being that songwriter to being the artist in the spotlight? Was it a big transition?
Yeah. It was definitely a big transition for me. My life up until I released my first record was all just focused on creation and being up til 3am working on songs and kind of just having respect as a writer. But then you have to get into the whole promoting yourself as an artist. Doing interviews and being really responsible for your music and what you want to say. So that was a big learning curve for me. Finding the confidence to say, I’m not just a writer; I’m an artist as well. And this is my voice.’ So that was a big learning curve for me. But I feel very free, very comfortable kind of doing it now.
Now that you have your record out and you’re promoting and touring, how does it make you feel when you hear artists like Adele and Alicia Keys say you’re incredible and they love your style and energy?
It feels amazing. These are the people I look up to and people that have achieved so many incredible dreams in the industry without compromising who they are. That’s the most important thing. To have compliments from them and to get to work with Alicia and people that I admire so much, it’s hard to take in. It’s like a dream. It’s something that as a 16-year-old I dreamed of. It’s really special and it makes me want to work hard to make sure I can prove everybody right.
Now where do you see your career going in the next five to ten years?
Five to ten years? I don’t know. I just want to improve and writing is so important to me. I want to write songs that will last a very long time. That’s kind of my aim. I just hope I can take my music over here because people will connect to it. Hopefully I have a long career in which I can really maintain my integrity musically.
Go pick up Emeli Sande’s debut album Our Version of Events which is available on iTunes and in stores everywhere.
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