UK Singer/Songwriter Emeli Sande Talks Adele, Competition Shows & Getting Started

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Scottish singer/songwriter Emeli Sande stopped by the Fresh 102.7 studios last week to chat with Jim & Kim about her debut album,”Our Version of Events,” how she started her career and the effect singing competition shows are having on the music industry.

When Adele‘s career took off at the end of 2009 with her hit “Rolling In The Deep,” Emeli who’s real name is also Adele, decided to go with her middle name, Emeli as her stage name, in order to form her own identity in the industry.

Despite the name conflict, Adele admires Sande and is a fan of her music.


“It’s amazing. Even before I released anything in the UK, she’d seen me on a show we have over there called ‘Jools Holland’ and she tweeted about it. To have that support from someone so huge was really encouraging,” she said.

Sande’s music career began five years ago, after winning the Trevor Nelson BBC Urban Music Competition – similar to television programs like American Idol, X-Factor and The Voice  – and was offered a record deal.

“It was the first way I got my foot in the industry and saw what the industry was about. I was 16 and I worked with a lot of artists that have come from these big reality shows,” she said.

Photo: Joe Cingrana/CBS Radio

Emeli Sande/Fresh 102.7

The singer can sympathize with the  love-hate relationship people have with music competition shows, but overall these programs are beneficial for both artists looking for their big break.

There’s less development in the music industry now than ever before. And if people need to find exposure these programs are great. The people that I’ve worked with are so passionate about music and I would never think less of them as an artist at all. I’ve been really pleased with the work I’ve done with these shows,” she said.

Sande has also written songs for US pop artists like Leona Lewis, Rihanna and Alicia Keys.

“Getting to write for such big stars gives you experience in the industry without you being in the spotlight; Just seeing how much work it takes for them to be there. I think people see them on TV and it looks kind of easy, but you see how much they’re going through. And helping them express something was always such a great feeling for me,” said Sande.

Since songwriting is such a personal thing, Jim asked Sande if she ever feels that her songs misinterpreted by the artists.

“No, I’ve never had that feeling. When you can it’s great to get in the studio with them. When I was writing for Rihanna we met up in LA and she told me what she was feeling, and what she wanted in the song. You’re tailoring the song for someone specifically. My favorite writing session was with Alicia Keys ‘cause we got to sit at [the] piano and connect as people. So I never felt like that, I definitely put my writer’s hat on.”

But there’s nothing that can compare to hearing yourself singing your own song over the radio.

Emeli Sande/Fresh 102.7

Emeli Sande/Fresh 102.7

“It was a really bizarre feeling, because it was really late at night and London was completely empty. I was going from the studio back home and I heard it really low on the minicab and it was just amazing going through empty London and my song “Heaven” was playing. It just feels like wow the hard really does pay off if you just keep at it,” she said.

It may be on an equal scale for performing at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“[It was] such as honor to work with Danny Boyle in the opening ceremony and to be part of such an important event for our country. Waving the flag for your country felt amazing. I’ll never perform in front of that many people again so I had a fantastic time.”

Hmmm…never performing in front of that many people again – we’re not convinced.

“Once we finish the European tour and the US tour, I’m going to just come back here and start writing again. Hopefully write for artists that inspire me and just get new ideas out ’cause thats what I love to do. I just want to get it all out on paper,” she said.

-Maria Bonello, Fresh 102.7/NYC


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