“You’ve got the words to change a nation
But you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
Afraid you’ll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?“
Before I attended the 2nd annual Made in America Festival in Philadelphia, I had faintly heard of Emeli Sandé, but after a couple of days, I was reminded by an R&B lover/fellow Eagles fan, Liz, that she had been the first to tell me about her, but I never got around to it; all credit must be given where its due. The other time I heard Emeli’s voice, she was on the UK version of Kendrick Lamar’s Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe and she sounded great. It was only a few weeks ago to the day when there was a twitter conversation about just how many great artists there are in the UK that us, North Americans, often bypass because of lack of exposure, but I do know people who are into that scene (shout out to Tamia). With singers like Adele & Amy Winehouse really the singers to look at when it comes to that soulful sound, you have to look at the UK a little harder, and Emeli certainly has what it takes to follow in their footsteps (although Adele has really big shoes to fill). Funny story (speaking of Adele) is that, that’s actually Emeli’s first name, but she started going by her middle name as soon the OG Adele starting blowing up (which makes sense).
She only has one album out (Our Version of Events), and when I was listening to it, you get the acoustics, the up-tempo rhythm, and the intimacy of an R&B singer. One thing about the UK is that they’re very experimental with their sound, so to us across the pond, it would sound weird, but that’s the reason why it works so well for them, because they find that success within doing things different (take notes, people). You have songs like Clown that get you in your feelings because it’s heartfelt with a single piano and some strings behind it, and then all of a sudden you’re two-stepping or doing whatever other bodily movements to Heaven, and it’s that diversity that a lot of artists lack because they just stick to one thing and all in all, it’s very easy to dismiss it. Next To Me is her biggest hit, and from the lyrics, whether you’re a man or woman, you can find the connection with her music. As a man, it’s often a challenge to listen to R&B from a woman’s perspective and bring in a personal connection (well, more so in recent years), but the fact that you can in most cases, that assures you that an artist is pretty much on the right path.
I’m not a heavy R&B listener like the next person, but I do know that good music is good music no matter where it comes from or from whichever genre. What I can see from Emeli is massive growth. She’s already performed at the Olympics and is already working on a second album with her first one selling over a million in the UK (big deal). I think her success is also impressive given that she has an African background – it opens doors for more to follow. She has an exemplary voice, and the various styles that she brings to the table work in all ways, so definitely see her making some noise in the future, although her initial break has been loud enough, and there’s no need for me to explain that. Check her out, and enjoy.
That’s My Word & It STiXX