Essence president Michelle Ebanks tells Billboard, "Emeli is a global, multi-faceted artist, extraordinary storyteller and a bold and beautiful collaborator whose future is extremely bright. She follows in the tradition of what Essence has always done: supporting artists who are doing incredible things."
Sandé's top-selling U.K. debut album, Our Version of Events, has sold 238,000 in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The 2012 Capitol project peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top R&B Albums charts, spinning off the hits "Next to Me" and "My Kind of Love." Along the way, the singer/songwriter has collaborated with a diverse lineup of acts, including Nas, Alicia Keys, Naughty Boy, Labrinth, Rihanna, Fantasia and Robert Glasper Experiment.
Calling the Essence event "a big honor," Sandé is at work on her sophomore album, slated for 2014. "It's just a baby at the moment. I'm not sure what it is yet," says Sandé of the project. "But it will be very spiritual. I want it to hit people's souls, to speak to them no matter where they are in the world."
Launched in 2010 as part of Essence magazine's 40th anniversary commemoration, Black Women in Music heralds the achievements of both emerging and established artists and influencers. Sandé joins a list of previous celebrants that includes Mary J. Blige, Kelly Rowland, Janelle Monae, music industry executive Sylvia Rhone and singer/songwriters Solange and Lianne La Havas.