In 1999, as Emilia Rydberg, she had a worldwide hit with the single Big Big World which sold more than 4.5 million copies.
Now she performs as Emilia Mitiku with a new album I Belong To You – an album which could be on the verge of similar success.
The daughter of a Swedish mother and pioneering Ethiopian jazz singer Teshome Mitiku, Emilia grew up immersed in the music of Etta, Ella, Eartha and Billie – influences which come through on the album.
Based in Stockholm, Emilia is promoting it in the UK on a tour which brings her to the Brighton Centre on Saturday, March 30, as special guest of Alfie Boe.
“I was born in Stockholm and I have lived pretty much all my life here,” she says. It’s a great place, but sadly a number of venues are shutting down.
“It is not a great music scene. We watch too much TV. And with IKEA, our homes are so well equipped. People don’t want to go out!”
Taxes on alcohol and the cost of living are further disincentives – which maybe explains why Sweden has always been so good at exporting its music.
“We are a small city. We love looking at other cities, London or America. We are intrigued by new things. The UK has been marvellous for me.”
The UK has certainly taken to the new album, which explores her love of classic jazz and soul. It entered the charts at number 22, preceded by the single You’re Not Right For Me which was A-listed and named as Record of the Week on Radio 2.
As she says, her journey to I Belong To You has been a long and circuitous one, but the strangest thing of all about it, is that it has led her right back to where she began: to the music her father shared with her, to the iconic singers she heard as a child and to the reasons she started singing in the first place.
Highlights on the album include Officially A Fool, Substitute Arms and You’re Breaking My Heart. Also featured on the album are Emilia’s interpretations of Ella Fitzgerald’s Dream A Little Dream and Doris Day’s Again, as well as the recent singles Lost Inside and So Wonderful.
Meeting producer Anders Hansson, and writing with him and Sharon Vaughn, proved the key turning points in the whole project, Emilia says.
“I just felt very much at home. After quite a long time of not being very creative, I ran into Anders and Sharon, and I just felt so supported by them. I felt that I could be open to them with my ideas and that I would be supported.”