EMELI Sandé will experience Scarborough's sands for the first time when she plays the North Yorkshire resort's Open Air Theatre on July 5.

Born 80 miles up the East Coast in Sunderland, she left the North East with her family for Ulverston in Cumbria when she was a baby and at the age of four moved again to Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

"I have moved around a lot,” says 31-year-old Sandé, speaking from her home just outside London, where she has her own studio set-up and is now working on songs for her next album.

"I’m really excited to be playing Scarborough, as I’ve never even been there before. Playing in the north always feels like a homecoming for me. I grew up in the north and the kindness and warmth of people there really makes me feel welcome.

“It takes me back to when I was a kid. I have family up north as well, so it gives me a chance to play for all the people who supported me on my journey from the very first step."

Sandé's breakthrough came when she sang on Chipmunk's 2009 hit Diamond Rings. The next year she collaborated with rapper Wiley on Never Be Your Woman and her debut solo single, Heaven, followed in 2011. Our Version Of Events gave her the bestselling album of 2012, the year when she performed at both the London Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies. A clutch of BRIT Awards came her way; the concert album Live At The Royal Albert Hall arrived in 2013 and second studio set Long Live The Angels emerged in 2016.

To cap it all, Sandé received an MBE in 2017 for her services to music. "It’s been a crazy nine years. I didn’t know anyone at all in the music industry when I was starting out and was determined to get a foot in the door, and that’s what happened with Chipmunk," she says. "“Then one thing led to another… and at the end of it all I ended up in Buckingham Palace."

Scarborough beckons with its promise of July sunshine and sea air. "I love doing festivals and gigs like this," says Sande. "It always feels more like a celebration; I can feel everyone’s positive energy. It’s so different from doing an arena or an indoor gig.

“For some reason, it feels like I have a lot more freedom on stage when I’m outdoors. I can be a lot more creative. Part of that’s because there’s so much that you can’t control – the weather, who’s going to be in the crowd – that you kind of end up going with the flow a lot more.

“We’re just about to start rehearsals for Scarborough and I think it’s going to be the sort of gig that I tailor especially to the venue. I like to give a passionate, soulful performance when I play live; I want people to feel good."

This is important to Sandé when so much news is filled with negative and divisive stories. "Music is healing. It brings people together," she says. "There always seems to be something else coming along that divides people, but seeing people of all different races and backgrounds coming together to watch a gig, that’s what keeps me wanting to do the job."

Meanwhile, Sandé has more work to do on her third album. When will it be ready? "If it was up to me I’d bring it out this year, but it might take a little while longer, we’ll see," she says.

Tickets are on sale at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com; in person from Scarborough Open Air Theatre box office, Burniston Road, and Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau, in Scarborough Town Hall, St Nicholas Street, or on 01723 818111or 01723 383636. Doors open at 6pm.

Charles Hutchinson