Emeli Sandé regularly provided guest vocals for several of the U.K.'s most successful grime artists before she embarked on a successful solo career in 2010. She was already a BRIT and MOBO winner when she released her debut album, Our Version of Events (2012), a chart-topping, multi-platinum U.K. blockbuster that spawned four Top Ten pop singles and led to the number two hit Long Live the Angels (2016). The artist returned at the end of the 2010s with Real Life (2019), by which point she also had numerous Top Ten entries as a featured artist, including Chipmunk's "Diamond Rings" and David Guetta's "What I Did for Love."
Born Adele Sandé in Sunderland, she was encouraged to hone her musical talents, which included playing the clarinet and piano and writing and performing her own songs, by her Zambian choirmaster father. While studying medicine at Glasgow University, she signed a publishing deal with EMI and, following a meeting with producer Naughty Boy, the pair began working together on a number of songs, including Chipmunk's Top Ten hit "Diamond Rings," which she was also featured on, and "Boys," which was later recorded by Cheryl Cole as the B-side to "3 Words."
After signing a solo contract with EMI, she moved to London and appeared on albums by Tinie Tempah, Professor Green, and Devlin, supported Solange Knowles on her U.K. tour, and scored a second Top Ten hit with Naughty Boy and Wiley on a cover of White Town's "Your Woman." Her first solo single, "Daddy," was released in 2010. In 2011, Sandé won a raft of awards, including Best Breakthrough Act at the BRITs and at the MOBO Awards. After appearing on Professor Green's smash hit "Read All About It" in October 2011, she issued her debut album, Our Version of Events, in February 2012. Released to critical and commercial acclaim, the singles "Heaven" and "Next to Me" received heavy radio airplay and achieved respectable chart positions across Europe and the U.K. Sandé's profile was given a further boost in the summer when she sang Henry Francis Lyte's Christian hymn "Abide with Me" at the opening ceremony of London's 2012 Olympics. An equally prestigious performance of "Read All About It" at the closing ceremony of the games led to Our Version of Events making a return to the top of the U.K. album chart that August. It ended the year as the top-selling album in the U.K., and helped her win a pair of BRIT awards the following February (for British Female Solo Artist and British Album of the Year).
Sandé released the concert album Our Version of Events: Live at the Royal Albert Hall. She returned with her second full-length effort, Long Live the Angels, in 2016. Recorded on both sides of the Atlantic, the album was inspired by her Zambian heritage and featured performances from her father and the Serenje Choir of Zambia. It narrowly missed the top of the U.K. chart. In September 2017, Sandé released the more dance-oriented single "Starlight," which incorporated elements of house and pop music. After featured appearances on tracks including David Guetta's number one U.K. hit "What I Did for Love," Sandé returned as a headliner in June 2019 with the lush gospel power ballad "Sparrow," co-produced by Troy Miller. Two months later, she released Real Life, featuring more material made with Miller and additional collaborations with Salaam Remi and James Poyser.