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Emeli Sandé Talks ESSENCE Festival, Fantasia & Education

Emeli Sandé will perform at the ESSENCE Festival on July 5.

Scotland native Emeli Sandé has worked with everyone from Fantasia to The Saturdays. One of the projects that’s most important to her is Our Version of Events, her debut release that became the UK’s bestelling album of 2012.

Sandé, who will perform at the ESSENCE Festival on July 5, recently stopped by the ESSENCE office to share her excitement about the upcoming show, her experience working on Fantasia’s new album, and her love of education.

ESSENCE.com: Why are you excited to perform at the ESSENCE Festival on July 5?

Emeli Sandé: This is going to be my first American festival and having the support of ESSENCE is a big thing for me. I’m really excited about the lineup. And I haven’t been to New Orleans before, so there’s a multitude of reasons why I’m excited.

ESSENCE.com: Are there any artists in particular you can’t wait to see?

Sandé: I’m a massive fan of Beyoncé and Brandy. I also know Daley from back in the UK, so catching up with him is going to be good.

ESSENCE.com: How do you prepare for a live performance?

Sandé: You have to make sure everything is ready to go. Make sure your voice is warmed up and know what you’re wearing to perform. The main thing, though, is reminding yourself of what the music means to you. People might be seeing you for the first time, so I also do a little meditation before I go out on stage.

ESSENCE.com: Your album, Our Version of Events, was the bestselling album in the UK last year. How does that kind of success feel?

Sandé: Incredible. It means the world to me that the record has connected with with people on such a level. It was a dream come true.

ESSENCE.com: You have a very powerful voice and sing with such emotion. Your “Next to Me” single is a perfect example. Where does that emotion come from?

Sandé: it comes from when I was younger. I was really quiet as a kid and music was the one place where I could be loud. The louder I could get my voice, the more I could express myself. I was just so inspired by big singers like Whitney Houston and Anita Baker.

ESSENCE.com: You also worked on the title track for Fantasia’s new album, Side Effects of You. What was writing for her like?

I am a massive fan of her voice and the way she interpreted the song was really special. And it’s even cooler that it’s the title track of the album.

ESSENCE.com: What’s next for your career?

Sandé: I want to start writing for the second album and producing new material in general. I want to spread the word about my music, but my favorite part is creating and evolving as an artist.

ESSENCE.com: In addition to loving music, education is huge for you. You studied medicine at one point. What led you to medicine?

I’ve always loved school. My dad is a teacher and education was such a massive part of his life. He’s from Zambia and he really changed his entire life because of education. In our family, that’s the first thing you do. Singing is great, but you had to use education to have stability in your life. I encourage anyone who wants to get into the industry to have the education first. I loved medicine and I’m glad that it was a part of my life. It taught me a lot about how to approach even things in music.