Emeli Sandé

March 10, 1987

Emeli Sandé Artistfacts

  • Emeli Sandé was born in the North East England city of Sunderland to Zambian technology and maths teacher Joel Sandé and his Caucasian English wife. The family moved to rural Alford in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in October 1992 – they were the first mixed-race family to live in the village. Sandé wrote the song "Mountains" about her parents and the struggles that they faced.
  • Her music career began when Sandé's sister sent a video of Emeli playing the piano and singing to Trevor Nelson's BBC Urban music competition. She won and was offered a record deal, but the management that the teenager met via the competition decided it wasn't right for her at the time. "It was the first way I got my foot in the industry and saw what the industry was about," Sandé recalled to Fresh 102.7. "I was 16 and I worked with a lot of artists that have come from these big reality shows."
  • Sandé studied medicine in a five-year course at the University of Glasgow, where she obtained a degree in neuroscience. The song "My Kind of Love" was inspired by her time as a medical student at a Glasgow hospital.
  • She was still a fourth year medical student in Glasgow when she wrote the hook for rapper Chipmunk's song "Diamond Rings," while vacuuming her bedroom. Chipmunk got Sandé to sing the chorus and it became her first hit single.
  • Sandé frequent songwriting collaborator is music producer/writer Shahid Khan aka Naughty Boy. "Diamond Rings" was the first song that the pair wrote together. She recalled to The Daily Record: "I was doing a show in London for 1Xtra and I met this guy called Naughty Boy. He has been trying to build up his name as a producer and asked if I wanted to work with him on a few things."

    "We got in the studio and we clicked workwise. I just really enjoyed listening to what he was doing - it was so different from other people's stuff."
  • Her real name is Adele Emily Sandé, but she changed it in 2010 to avoid confusion with Adele. "I am Adele Emeli Sandé. And I'd never met another Adele in my life until Adele came out," Sandé laughed to Radio.com. "She'd just won the BRIT [Awards] Critics' Choice Award. And I kept hearing her name. It was just before I released my first feature on a record and I thought, 'I should probably pick a different name because I think she's going to be quite big.' And looking back now, I think it was a good idea. I feel very happy being Eméli and I feel I have my identity as an artist."
  • In 2010, Sandé appeared on Naughty Boy's UK Top Ten song "Never Be Your Woman," and she also co-penned Alesha Dixon's single "Radio." By then, the labels were showing a lot of interest in her and she signed her first major record deal with Virgin Records the same year, before signing another deal with EMI in 2011.
  • Sandé's debut album, Our Version of Events, reached #1 in the UK after its release in February 2012. It went on to become the top-selling LP that year in her native country with 1.4 million copies sold.
  • "Next To Me" was Sandé's breakthrough hit in the US, peaking at #25 on the Hot 100. It was also named best song musically and lyrically at the 2013 Ivor Novello Awards and won the PRS for Music award for most performed work in the UK.
  • Sandé loves tattoos and has a large inking of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo on her right forearm. "I love her being there," she said. "You have to have courage as a woman in any kind of creative industry. She inspires me to stay true to who I am and not compromise on that. And put both the beauty and the ugly in what you do, and be very real. I'm a big fan of hers. She guides me and keeps me strong."

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