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Next To Me: The Rise of Emeli Sandé

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It’s undeniable that UK artists are the dominant forces of the American music industry these past few years.  With artists such as Adele, Mumford and Sons, the Wanted, and One Direction becoming international phenomenons, the talented Emeli Sandé may not be far behind her fellow countrymen.  Though you may not have heard her sing, you most likely have heard Emeli Sandé’s work.  She wrote Rihanna’s Half of Me and several songs on Alicia Key’s new album Girl on Fire.

But Adele Emeli Sandé didn’t get her start in music.  Even though she had been performing since childhood, writing her first song at the age of 11, and had a manager by the age of 16, Sandé felt her education was most important to her.  She opted to study Medicine at the University of Glasgow because it gave her options in case her career in music failed.  While attending university, Sandé would travel to London and perform during the weekends before heading back to Scotland for classes.

Sandé’s musical career first took off while she was in London, performing like always, and met rapper and producer, Naughty Boy.  Her musical compatibility with Naughty Boy led to her collaboration with rapper, Chipmunk.  The song Diamond Rings in 2009 was Sandé’s musical debut.  The single came in at No. 6 on the charts, and Sandé soon found herself with 2 record deals.

Her debut album Our Version of Events quickly propelled Emeli Sandé into the spotlight.  She preformed at the London Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies and has been nominated for the Brit Award’s Breakthrough Artist.  While she hasn’t yet garnered the same attention stateside as she has in her homeland, Sandé is well on her way to becoming the next big performer.  Her single Next to Me is steadily climbing the American charts, and her first US tour began this month.

Sandé’s tour is a bit different from what we’ve become accustomed to here in the states.  While most artists now tend to go for flashy effects and theatrical performances, Emeli Sandé prefers to stand center-stage, simply dressed and sing her heart out.  An Emeli Sandé concert is not about a big show.  It’s about her voice and her spirit coming through the music.

With her rising popularity in the United States,  Sandé will soon face the challenge that all female artists from the UK encounter: the comparison to Adele.  Emeli Sandé is already at a disadvantage because her given name is Adele.  And she does have some similarities to the award winning singer.  Both of their works consist of mournful ballads and exceptional lyrics.  But while Adele sings with more of smoky, scratchy goodness, Sandé’s piercing soprano has more of an R&B vibe.

And it’s Sandé’s lyrics that set her apart from the rest of the R&B world.  River” from her debut album sounds majestic with it’s beautiful piano base, but it’s the words that only really create the majesty .  “If all you want are answers to your questions/ And you can’t seem to find no love for free/ If you’re looking for the right direction/ Then darling, look for me/ See, I can make the load much lighter/ I just need you to confide in me/ But if you’re too proud to follow rivers/ How are you ever going to find the sea?”

Emeli Sandé may not be one of America’s favorites yet, but I have no doubt that she will be soon.