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:: Spotlight :: Profile on young British star Emeli Sande

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Emeli Sande stands out from most of today's group of artists. In looks she is stylish with her peroxide blonde hair amid her part-Zambian, part-Scottish heritage. In voice, she is very distinctive, similar in making an impression as to when Amy Winehouse first bobbed up on the scene.

Emeli came to notice with her single Heaven, a classic slice of Brit-soul that harked back to bands such as Massive Attack and Soul II Soul with its skipping electro-beat and lush strings. But it is the soaring, soulful, effortless voice that sets Emeli apart from most of today‘s popular singers. She recently won the Critics’ Choice section at the Brit Awards, just prior to her debut album ‘Our Version Of Events’ being released. The album knocked Lana Del Ray from the top spot in the UK.

Emeli knidly spared a few minutes to have a chat with me about her rise to success.

Q. Congratulations on your last twelve months…

A. Thank you. It's been a fantastic time.

Q. I recently watched your performance on the Graham Norton Show, in which Madonna was his special guest. You sang beautifully. How did you feel with Madonna watching?

A. It was a little intimidating with Madonna on the show. I wasn't really nervous in performing in front of her, but to meet her was a thrill. I had a good time.

Q. Tell us a little about your family background?

A. I grew up in Scotland. My dad is from Zambia and my mum from Scotland. It was a quiet town in which I was brought up and I remember it being a very musical childhood.

Q. Did you start singing from a very young age?

A. I started singing from about 3 or 4 and it sort of got serious by the time I was 13. I had already played piano at age 10 and even writing songs.

Q. Your album is titled ‘Our Version Of Events’. Did you write it all?

A. Yes, I wrote all of the songs on the album and worked with different producers. The best thing was to be in control of what I wanted to do.

Q. You toured with Coldplay in late 2011. How was that experience?

A. I toured Europe with them. It was amazing. The crowds reacted well to my music and it was interesting to see how Coldplay performed and how they prepared backstage. Everything just runs to clockwork. You can learn a lot by watching them go about their work. I certainly did.

Q. You won the Brit Awards' Critics Choice Award this year…

A. Yes, it was a great thrill. I was very happy to win the award. I didn't expect to win anything and it made the night even more special.

Q. Tell us about working with acclaimed producer Shahid “Naughty Boy” Khan?

A. I met him three years ago.We've had the same studio - based in Ealing. We've been in this big dark studio and had big discussions. It was a natural process for us to work together. We never felt rushed and I was really happy to work on the album with him.

Q. I understand that you recorded with Alicia Keys whilst in New York…

A. I had supported Alicia when she came to London. She;s a big inspiration. She asked me to write with her and we had a great time. It was pretty old school style in having big discussions. We wrote a song on my album titled ‘Hope’ and I really love those lyrics. We wrote some other songs which hopefully she will use on her own album. It was especially inspirational being in New York; such a great city for ideas.

Q. How do you look after your voice?

A. I have been looking for ways to look after my voice more, especially as I've been doing more shows now. I don't drink and I don't smoke. I try not to talk too much just before a gig. I'm trying to follow all the rules.

Q. What are your upcoming plans with the release of your album now?

A. I have a UK tour starting at the end of March and a European tour soon after. There are some festivals in between too. Then I'll be going to the United States. Hopefully, I'll get to Australia later in the year.

The album ‘Our Version Of Events’ is out through EMI Music

Here is Emeli's tour schedule.

Mar 26 - Alhambra, Paris, France
Mar 28 - Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany
Mar 29 - Gloria-Theatre, Cologne, Germany
Mar 31 - Paradiso Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Apr 2 - Cirque Royal, Brussels, Belgium
Apr 4 - UEA, Norwich, United Kingdom
Apr 5 - O2 Academy, Leeds, United Kingdom
Apr 6 - Music Hall, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Apr 9 - O2 Academy, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Apr 10 - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Apr 12 - HMV Ritz, Manchester, United Kingdom
Apr 13 - Solus, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Apr 14 - HMV Institute, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Apr 16 - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, United Kingdom
Jun 15 - Victoria Park, London, United Kingdom
Jul 7 - T In The Park. Kinross, United Kingdom
Jul 23 - Supporting Coldplay: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
Jul 24 - Supporting Coldplay: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
Jul 26 - Supporting Coldplay: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada
Jul 27 - Supporting Coldplay: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada
Jul 29 - Supporting Coldplay: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Jul 30 - Supporting Coldplay: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Aug 1 - Supporting Coldplay: Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
Aug 3 - Supporting Coldplay: Izod Centre, Rutherford, NJ
Aug 4 - Supporting Coldplay: Izod Centre, Rutherford, NJ
Aug 7 - Supporting Coldplay: United Centre, Chicago, IL
Aug 8 - Supporting Coldplay: United Centre, Chicago, IL
Aug 10 - Supporting Coldplay: Xcel Centre, St Paul, MN
Aug 11 - Supporting Coldplay: Xcel Centre, St Paul, MN
Aug 18-19 - V Festival, Chelmsford, United Kingdom
Aug 19 - Weston Park, Staffordshire, United Kingdom