A Scottish success story who rose to prominence on Chipmunk’s “Diamond Rings”, and whose biggest influence is Nina Simone, Emeli Sandé’s soulful and spine-tingling songs are unmistakeable.

She’s written songs for some huge artists: Alesha Dixon, Professor Green, Devlin, Cheryl Cole and Tinie Tempah to name but a few. And this was in the early days of her career! Adele Emily Sandé had studied to become a neuroscientist, but the pull of music was too great (we’re pretty glad the music industry got her instead!).


Sandé’s success peaked at an incredible moment when the country was in true Olympic fever. Yes, 2012 was the year that Emeli landed herself one of the best possible gigs out there – the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. The opening ceremony, which was later praised as a masterpiece, saw her perform Christian hymn “Abide With Me” alongside an almost haunting performance on the theme of mortality, choreographed by Akram Khan. Sandé manages to hold her nerves despite a whole 900 million people watching worldwide. We’d certainly prefer 1 examiner…

The closing ceremony was successful in equal measure! Emeli performed in the “Rush Hour” segment of the evening, the first live part of the ceremony. She appears on top of a truck to sing one verse of her hit “Read All About It (Part III)”, which has since become her highest streamed track with over 215 million streams on Spotify alone. The truck drives her away and the rest of the 3-hour performance continues. A truly spectacular achievement for Emeli whom at the time was still a relatively new breakthrough act.

Her first album, Our Version Of Events, was toured from 2011 to 2013, surrounding her Olympic performances, and was a huge success. She supported the enormous Coldplay on their Mylo Xyloto tour and went on to play many shows across America and Europe. Our Version Of Events was a huge success, selling 5.4 million copies. Towards the end of her tour she played alongside some other huge artists like Ed Sheeran, Rudimental, Jessie J and Soul II Soul for a concert in tribute to Stephen Lawrence, the young black British boy who was killed in a racial attack in 1993.


Emeli has never shied away from working with organisations to help raise awareness on issues she is passionate about. In 2013 she was part of the AIDS Foundation concert hosted by Elton John. Sandé’s mother is Scottish but her father’s home origin is Zambia, so she is extremely passionate and understands the seriousness of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Emeli also launched the “Community Clavinova’, which is a nationwide opportunity for organizations to receive free clavinovas who may not otherwise be able to, in partnership with Yamaha UK.

Keys Cover Girl

If you’ve picked up a copy of our Keys Debut book, you will know that Emeli is the cover star, and her song “Next to Me” is featured inside. Also from the album Our Version Of Events, the song was a huge hit, peaking at number 2 on the UK Singles chart! It also became her first song to make it into the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching number 25 there. Not bad for a debut album!

To top it all off, in 2017 Sandé was awarded the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist, and an MBE. Yes, an MBE for her services to music. You might say that she’s had a pretty successful few years!

If you happened to miss it (we forgive you), you can have a listen to the album that shot Sandé to success. Enjoy!

We’ll see you again next Tuesday for another Artists in Focus! In the meantime, catch up with some of our previous blog posts: Snarky Puppy, James Brown, and Kaki King.