Review: Emeli Sande - Read All About It

Our resident pop expert Russell Iliffe reviews Emeli Sande’s Read All About It and gets to know the mysterious star a little better…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 17 Mar 2014
  • min read
Shooting to stardom in 2012 with her debut album Our Version of Events, Emeli Sande has become one of the UK’s biggest artists.

However, despite the critical acclaim and huge sales, she remains a rather mysterious figure on the pop landscape. Being neither a BRITS school graduate, a reality show contestant or a queen of controversy, Sande has broken with many of the current conventions set by recent female stars.

A new book, Emeli Sande Read All About It by John Dingwall, will prove a draw for her many fans wanting to get to know the Sunderland singer-songwriter better. The acclaimed music journalist had exclusive access to Emeli’s friends and family, putting him in an excellent position to document the story of her rise to fame.

One of the first things obvious from the book is that Sande was never a seeker of pure celebrity, more a dedicated artist determined to make it on her own (musical) terms. Unsurprisingly, as with most overnight successes, her lengthy career shows Emeli was nothing of the sort. She spent years gigging, being rejected by labels and writing for other artists before the hits in her own right started piling up. Interestingly, one major setback involved Gary Barlow rejecting her from his record label after failing to see her star potential.

Meanwhile, Emeli also had a double life - aspiring musician by night but enthusiastic medical student by day. In fact, her love of medicine was so strong that at several points during her four years of study, she considered pursuing it as her first career choice. With a debut album that has sold over two million copies in the UK alone and has become an international hit, it now seems truly remarkable that she may not have chosen music!

2012 was of course the year in which Sande’s career went stratospheric. Not only did she win the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award but there were also those performances at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. Her profile went so sky high that there were even mutterings that over exposure might become a problem.

Sande’s music has been heard everywhere over the last couple of years with Next to Me in particular becoming a firm radio favourite. There have also been memorable collaborations with Professor Green (Read All About It), Naughty Boy (Wonder) and Labrinth (Beneath Your Beautiful). She has toured the US with Coldplay while Dingwall reveals that other celebrity fans include Elton John and Bono who both gave her advice on how to break America.

Emeli’s story may lack the high drama that many of her contemporaries offer as despite her huge success, she is no demanding diva. However, this detailed biography will still prove a hugely interesting read for fans. This is one star who has simply risen the old-fashioned way displaying resilience, quiet ambition and sheer talent to become the multi-platinum phenomenon she is today.

Words: Russell Iliffe