Emeli Sande is young, but she already has an enviable list of accomplishments under her belt. Along with a specialty in neuroscience from the University of Glasgow, she's become a global R&B phenomenon at just 23. The U.K. soul singer wrote her first song at 11 and began participating in music competitions in her teens. Given her powerful vocals and keen understanding of what makes a great song, there was little doubt that her debut would be a doozy — especially once her first single, the soulful "Heaven," became a worldwide hit.
Our Version of Events came out in the U.K. this past February — it's due out here in June — and went platinum within its second week. Raw but polished, the album features plenty of soaring horns, dance-friendly beats and catchy pop hooks. But the spotlight stays trained on Sande's impassioned vocals, which are at once brazen and beautiful.