Emeli's Version of Events
Emeli Sandé represents much that is dear to Connected Cultures.
Born in Sunderland to an English mother and a Zambian father, brought up in Aberdeen, Scotland. A wonderfully gifted musician with an enchanting voice. One of the defining artists of her generation. A leading star in both the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2012 London Olympic Games, a global event that did so much to bring people and cultures together. A modest but confident and authoritative thought-leader. So many accolades apply.
Photo © Getty Images
In September, Sandé’s voice was heard in the yes/no campaign for Scottish independence. Sandé proclaimed that she was a definite ‘no’ supporter, saying of Great Britain : “I love how multicultural this place is, and I love this country” (Metro, 9th Sept 2014). Sandé’s feelings about Britain are matched if not exceeded by her love for Africa, as shown in her recent comments on the Band Aid controversy.
Sandé is one of the leading commentators on the new version of ‘Feed the World’, as well as a contributor to the record. She shares the concerns of many Africans about the relevance of the words to Africa in 2014, and recognised early on that some aspects of the project were ill-conceived. Prior to recording, Sandé sought and gained Sir Bob Geldof’s consent to change her lines in the song. Sadly the changes failed to make the final cut.
Subsequently, Sandé published a statement, acknowledging that the song was problematic and out of date, but that it had been released in a spirit of generosity and out of a simple wish to generate funds to help fight Ebola. Sandé stated "I am so proud of my Zambian heritage. No offence or disrespect to the beautiful and prosperous continent was ever intended.” (BBC, November 22nd). It's regrettable that this statement was necessary, but there has been considerable anger and indignation over the song, and Sandé's words should bring some peace and lead to greater understanding of a continent that presents many different images and cannot be simplified.
In a recording industry not normally known for its integrity, Sandé has shown genuine leadership and humility here. Diplomatic and caring, as well as passionate about her music and proud of her heritage, Emeli Sandé is an inspiration to millions of people.
© Eddie Hewitt, 2014