Soulful Emeli Sandé brings poetry back to pop
When Scottish singer Emeli Sandé says she’s a "natural," she means it. Her debut album "Our Version of Events," just released on June 5 in the U.S., is not one in which vocal perfection is created with massive electronic effects. Her voice is just the opposite: very honest and real to hear in both vocals and lyrics. With an emotional vocal range along with her original songwriting, she has crafted a distinct and rewarding debut.
Here for EDGE Media Network, Sandé (pronounced san-dee) elaborates on some of her live performances so far, what is most important to her in creating the lyrical content of her songs and not only shares her dreams of being a singer but the inspiration she has provided to the people who take her lyrics to heart.
Come from her heart?
EDGE: I wanted to start with the song "My Kind of Love." I remember this quality of range and emotion from Mariah Carey’s first album.
Emeli Sandé: No way! That’s a big compliment.
EDGE: Why did this song come out of your gut and heart?
Emeli Sandé: That song... number one, I really love singing it. The lyrics are really important to me. Three or four years ago, I was studying to be a doctor and the only thing I ever found inspiring or made it easier to create, was the people I met in the hospitals. So, I guess I was inspired to write that song because of the kind of love you see in a hospital. It’s the people who actually turn up and the people who really, really care for the patient. That lot hasn’t been glamorous and we don’t write about it in the newspapers or anything like that... but I just loved seeing those connections in the hospital.
EDGE: Did you vocally train in pursuing your motivation to sing, or are you what they call a "natural?"
Emeli Sandé: I guess I’m a "natural." I sang before I could speak. I just loved melodies since I was really young. I listened to people -- Mariah, Whitney, Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone... all these people with these really distinctive voices. You know, when you are a kid, you try to imitate them at the beginning. You kind of find your voice as you get older. So, it’s very natural for me. I was just fascinated by female voices.
EDGE: Okay. Why did you choose "Our Version of Events" as the debut title of your CD?
Emeli Sandé: I choose that because I felt I wanted to write songs that were my honest stories. I could really put everything I feel but at the same time, other people could connect with, I didn’t want to call it "My Version..." I wanted it to be "Our Version of Events" and hopefully, I could be speaking for people who maybe felt were not good with words.
Show biz anthem
EDGE: Very nice, let’s go to the song "Clown." It has so many lyrical layers. The song reminded me of an anthem for show business, in general.
Emeli Sandé: Yes! I wanted to write a song... it’s about my personal experiences in trying to make my dream come true in the music industry. But, I wanted to write a song that could speak about different types of dreams as well. It’s about people who try to achieve something and actually put everything on the line and risk being humiliated and all the rest of it.
Sometimes you have to be a clown if you want to kind of get anywhere. So, for me it was about trying to get signed, trying to get people to believe in me and trying to get people to listen to my music. I’m really happy that a lot of people have written to me speaking about how they can relate it to them in just trying to achieve anything in life.
EDGE: I love the strings on that. I bet you love lots of strings too.
Emeli Sandé: I do. I love strings. I play cello, so I love strings... as many as possible, really.
EDGE: One of your more recent performances was at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That’s an interesting venue. Will you share a bit of where you performed there and that experience?
Emeli Sandé: I performed there and it was just beautiful. I’d never been there before. The venue has a feeling you can’t really describe because there is all this stained glass and it’s almost like a church, within the cemetery. When I was singing songs like "Heaven" it really resonated with me and the lyrics. There we were in a graveyard, you know? It’s such a beautiful building. It lent a lot to the music and the lyrics I was singing.
EDGE: Your music covers social issues, addiction, spirituality, faith and love. Your lyrics are so beautifully intelligent. I tagged it "clinical neuroscience songwriting."
Emeli Sandé: (Laughter) Yeah. That’s a good one. I mean lyrics are so important to me. I’ve always been really adamant that I wanted to put music out that people will really note lyrically. Writing is such a big passion of mine so I can get obsessed with working out the right lyric. I’ve always wanted to bring poetry back into pop music. I think that’s my mission.
EDGE: Well, thank you so much.
Emeli: Thank you. It’s been great to speak to you.
For more on Emeli Sandé and to purchase her CD, visit visit her website or visit her Facebook page.
Watch Emeli Sandé perform "Next to Me" from her CD "Our Version of Events."