Genre: Neo-soul, R&B
Sounds Like: Lauryn Hill, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu

Emeli Sandé is a 23-year-old Scotland-born singer and songwriter.

Equipped with a solid, soulful voice recalling both legends and contemporaries alike–from Lauryn Hill to Janelle Monae to Solange Knowles (who she’s already opened for on tour), Sandé is one of the promising new neo-soul talents on the scene…and it almost never happened.

After submitting one of her own songs to a Trever Nelson‘s BBC Urban Music competition years ago, the singer was offered several recording contracts as a finalist. Worried about inking a contract and allowing label control, Sandé ultimately chose schooling over songcraft–opting to attend Glasgow University instead to pursue a degree in neuroscience.

However, during a medical residency in Madrid, Sandé met producer Naughty Boy (Chipmunk, Ms. Dynamite), and the two instantly set forth in forging a musical partnership: Together they crafted “Diamond Rings,” a song that would result in Chipmunk’s first Top 10 single in the summer of ’09. And by March of 2010, Sandé was officially signed to Virgin Records.

Since then, Sandé has penned dozens of other tracks for other major UK pop acts including Cheryl Cole (“Boys”), Alesha Dixon (“Radio”) and Tinie Tempah (“Let Go”).

Having now put her medical aspirations on hold, Sandé has decided to return to once again pursue her musical path. And while she doesn’t yet have an official single out (look for a debut track to drop mid-summer), she does have a few official demos floating around, including “Easier In Bed.”

“Easier In Bed” is a gorgeous, hypnotic mixture of sweetly-sung vocals, hypnotic strings, and waves of ambient noise all set to a solid, tripping drum sample. “At night time we pretend / It’s easier in bed,” Sande croons on repeat during the falsetto-fied chorus.

While she’s still a long way away from a debut, the earliest rumblings suggest that Sandé’s going to be a major one to watch for in 2011.

For a free download of “Easier In Bed,” head to Sande’s official Facebook page, and check out her official website.