Emeli Sande: Black Scottish Woman Whose Voice Appeals Across Genres

Emeli Sandé’s jazzy vocal delivery finds middle ground between classic soul and modern-day R&B, with appeal to fans of indie pop and Top 40 alike. Her debut album, Our Version of Events, comes out next week, and it finds the best-selling BRIT Award winner testing the waters in the U.S., where she’ll shoot for the kind of across-the-board success currently enjoyed by Adele.

The Scottish-born performer started out winning singing competitions all across the U.K., but it wasn’t until 2011 that she started writing songs for her own album. Sandé’s backing band is sparse and simple, with just an acoustic guitarist, electric cellist and drummer plodding behind her cyclical melodies, and everything is arranged to place her powerhouse voice at the center of the songs. Her songwriting is straightforward and sometimes predictable, but the pop-oriented structures complement her crystalline voice well; many of her tunes come across like Rihanna playing a set for MTV Unplugged, with space for her to shine and enjoy the occasional exploratory moment.

Looking like a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Robyn, Sandé has the poise, passionate delivery and musical potential to appeal to a massive cross-section of fans. She’ll perform at arenas across the country with Coldplay this summer, so we’re about to find out how far she can go.

To read more and see video of Emeli Sande in session, go to NPR

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