Emeli Sande didn’t begin her career with that name.
If it hadn’t been for a certain Tottenham-born star beating the singer and songwriter to the punch, you’d be reading about Adele Sande right now.
“Everyone kept ringing me saying, ‘Hey, congratulations on your Brit award’. This was when I was studying in Scotland,” Sande tells Sky News.
“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, I just saw you won the Brit’. ‘I was like, no’.
“The one person I happen to meet called Adele my entire life, apart from one girl in school… She just blew up and I thought this would just be a double battle for me to fight… I think I’m happy I went with Emeli.”
So while she had to let her birth name go, her decision to use her middle name also has a special significance, as it was the name of her grandmother.
“She’s Emeli Sande the first, I’m Emeli Sande the second. And it reminds me of living out her legacy, and a lot of things she wasn’t able to do in Zambia; I have so many more opportunities to do here.
“Now knowing that she was so musical, I feel like that kind of spirit of music’s come from Zambia now through me, and then Emeli Sande the second gets to sing to the world.”
Now, as Sande prepares to launch her third studio album, she says she hopes her latest music will offer people hope and confidence in these fractious times.
So, having spoken openly about dealing with depression and anxiety in the past, what now gives her hope and confidence in times of need?
“Being around children… I just love being around their boldness and natural instinct to live life,” she says.
Sande’s young nephew, as her Instagram account can attest, is a big part of her world.
So much so, her younger sister Lucy has made her his “creative instructor”.
“He can’t even walk yet but he’ll always find his way to a piano. He’s learned that you make noise with your mouth when you press the keys,” she says. “I’m really impressed.
“He’s going to be one next month, and his first school report from my school of creativity is going to be shining.”
Does she want her own children one day?
“That’s definitely a dream, when I find the right person.”
Sande split from her husband, marine biologist Adam Gouraguine, in 2014 after two years of marriage.
She’s described the split from Gouraguine – who was her high school sweetheart – as “painful for them both”.
But she came back fighting, using the experience to fuel her new work.
Sande received her MBE for services to music just three years later.
“Before you get your moment, there’s so much heartbreak that had gone on before. Self-doubt and questioning: ‘Do I belong in this industry?’ ‘I don’t look or sing like any of these other girls here.’ ‘Is there a place for me?’
“And so, to have acknowledgement from the Royal Family that someone is watching and appreciates what you’re doing and giving to the country. That was a very special feeling for me.”
She vividly describes driving in through Buckingham Palace’s ornate gates, wearing an African print dress made especially for the occasion.
With her mother, father and sister by her side, she says she describes it as a “joint effort”, sharing the moment of pride with family members who have supported her throughout her career – even when that meant giving up a medical degree three years into the course.
As for chatting to Prince Charles about music, she describes it as “surreal”.
Like Ed Sheeran, Sande is an artist able not only to succeed on the frontline of pop, but also slip into the shadows and write for other singers.
She says it’s a very different skill to writing for herself, but with some artists it just clicks.
Rihanna was one of those.
“The song that got on her album was called Half Of It, a song I wrote with Naughty Boy one night.
“She said she heard it randomly and it reminded of her situation in her life.
“It just reminds you of this magical music thing that’s connecting us all in ways that we could never even imagine.”
One of the songs on her own new album, Extraordinary Being, is the official X-Men: Dark Phoenix track.
As it turns out, Sande’s choice of superpower would be telekinesis.
And what would she use this immense psychic power for?
“Party tricks,” she laughs. “I would have said flying before, but someone pointed out all the hazards, so I changed my mind.”
She’s busy preparing for her forthcoming album tour, Real Life, by cutting out alcohol and taking up meditation.
“I’m up to 10 minutes meditation,” she says. “Hopefully by the tour I’ll be up to 20, and a lot more clear minded.”
With the ambition to make every show “a special moment in itself”, she says she wants to find a “connection with the crowd”.
She feels it is her most authentic and honest work to date.
Perhaps Sande has already found her superpower in music – her way of reaching out and touching fans around the country.
- Emeli Sande’s single Shine is out now, her new album Real Life is released in September, and her UK tour kicks off in November