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Emeli Sande US Performance: From Med Student to Riveting Songbird

Dave Hogan, Getty Images

Emeli Sande was once a med student dreaming of a career as a neurologist. With the raw vocal stylings she expressed during her first U.S. performance at The Box in New York City Monday night (Feb. 27), it’s clear the path she’s traveling on should include microphones rather than EEGs.

Her intimate set — a brief 30 minutes featuring seven songs, six of which appear on her debut album, ‘Our Version of Events’ — demonstrated her knack for penning deeply personal lyrics that resonate with strangers. “This is my first gig in America,” the singer, who shares the same birthname and stellar pipes as her fellow Brit Adele, told the audience in a hushed tone. “I’ll always remember this no matter how it goes.”

After opening with ‘Heaven’ — a U.K. chart-topper she prefaced by saying it was centered on waking each day with “good intentions” — the woman blew the audience away by belting out each note with fervor, all while a guitarist, cellist and bongo player supported her effervescent vocals.

‘Next to Me’ followed as the chanteuse, who wore a black dress to keep the focus on her artistry rather than flashy attire, explained the song’s premise celebrated the male figures in her life. “I wrote this song about loyalty and love,” she said. “These are things we don’t talk about or write about. I have a strong group of men around me who are loyal and faithful to me.” Sincere lyrics like “When the skies are grey and all the doors are closing/ And the rising pressure makes it heard to breathe/ When all I need’s a hand to stop the tears from falling/ I will find him, I’ll find him next to me,” proves Sande truly does.

Watch Emeli Sande’s ‘Next to Me’ Video


She made a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall’ all her own — she’s logged studio time with the band — delivered an album cut called ‘Clown,’ where she displayed her keyboard-playing prowess while singing of risk-taking, performed the lovesick single ‘Daddy’ and demonstrated that sibling rivalry doesn’t exist in her family with ‘Breaking the Law,’ a tune she wrote for her sister. “I hope you all have someone you would do anything in the world for,” she revealed of the track.

Before Sande exited the stage, she sang a mesmeric number titled ‘My Kind of Love,’ which was inspired by the hospital patients she would meet during her years as a med student. “All the status is left out,” the soulful songbird disclosed. “Just people that need attention.”

The modesty Emeli Sande displayed during the evening proves she’s not seeking attention herself, but she certainly has it stateside.


See Photos of Emeli Sande at the 2012 BRIT Awards

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