Scottish singer Emeli Sandé wrapped up a big week, which saw her take home the Brit Award for Album of the Year, by performing Sunday night in L.A. at Elton John‘s 21st annual AIDS Foundation Oscar party. Sandé was the musical entertainment in a room that featured Steven Tyler, Bono, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and a Who’s Who of Hollywood talent.
Perhaps because she’d already done the awards circuit during the week, Sandé was fearless performing for music royalty. “Yeah, I had a great time. Introducing my music over here is always fun,” she tells Rolling Stone.
Yet she is well aware of the magnitude of the night, especially sitting at the same table as both John and Bono. “I wouldn’t have believed it last year, let alone when I was a kid,” she says. “You have to take a moment to let it all sink in and not move so fast that you don’t realize what an insane night that was.”
Sandé got some words of wisdom from Bono, who, like John, is known for his generosity with young musicians. “We were sitting next to each other discussing the Oscars, and I was asking him questions about when [U2] first came over to the States,” she says. “It was really kind of crazy, now that I think about it.”
The two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers agreed on the importance of keeping active. “[Bono] talked about the first album – he was saying you tour, you keep plugging it. And Elton was the same. He was talking about how he was opening up for different people and all the little showcases they did here at the beginning,” she says. “It was really encouraging and just cool to have their support.”
That was particularly relevant for Sandé, who is preparing for a big year Stateside trying to break her album Our Version of Events over here. “It’s such a big place. I definitely want to invest some proper time over here,” she says.
The singer-songwriter will return in May, and she hopes for some collaborations when she does. “I worked with Kendrick Lamar, which was really cool,” she says. “I met Jennifer Hudson at the Clive Davis party and we’re hopefully going to do some writing together. To write for someone with such an incredible voice is always very rewarding.”
She is now aware of the expectations for her second album, with her win for Album of the Year having drawn some very high-profile congratulations: “Everyone’s emailing you. My husband’s from Montenegro, so we got a message from the president of Montenegro, which does quite stand out.”
For Sandé, the win was very special. “When I’d heard I won it was an incredible feeling. It’s been such a year of hard work. That award was one I really wanted, and I was up against some incredible albums,” she says. “I had my family there, so I felt very, very happy and celebrated quite a lot that night.”
She continued celebrating Oscar night, where she not only got to sing for rock royalty but for a good cause, and one with personal significance. “I sang for [John’s] foundation in London a few months ago, so I’m a big supporter, and it’s just such a big cause for me,” she says. “My father is from Zambia, and over there AIDS is such a horrible and massive problem.”
She’s been surprised to find how many people are aware of her Brit Award in America: “There have been a lot of people coming up saying congratulations, and it’s not always people from the industry,” she says. “I love coming back, and each time it feels like more momentum is building.”