Sandé's sister made a video of her playing the piano and singing to one of her favourite songs, "Nasty Little Lady". They sent the clip to Trevor Nelson's BBC Urban music competition. Sandé won the show and was offered a record deal, but the management that she met via the competition decided against the deal. Her parents sent BBC Radio 1Xtra a CD of her songs. Ras Kwame played on her "Homegrown Sessions", and four artists that year were asked to do a show in Soho. She met with Watford-born music producer/writer Shahid Khan aka Naughty Boy, who had previously worked with Ms Dynamite and Bashy, and they began writing tracks for artists such as Alesha Dixon, Chipmunk, Professor Green, Devlin, Preeya Kalidas, Cheryl Cole, and Tinie Tempah. Sandé soon signed a record deal with Virgin Records and EMI Records.
In an interview, she said "I was doing a show in London for 1Xtra and I met this guy called Naughty Boy. We got in the studio and we clicked work wise. We just started writing, not necessarily for me, we just thought ‘let's write a pop tune’ and experiment. And we wrote the Chipmunk track and I thought nothing of it. Naughty Boy sent it off to Chipmunk who really liked it and wrote his stuff around it." She signed a record deal with Virgin Records in 2010. She later signed another deal with EMI Records in early 2011.
Sandé made her singing career debut in 2009 after appearing on the track she wrote for Chipmunk's first debut single, "Diamond Rings". The single charted at No. 6 on the UK Singles Charts, making it Chipmunk and Sandé's first ever Top 10 Hit. She later appeared on another single singing guest vocals, after collaborating with Wiley on his comeback single "Never Be Your Woman", the single charted at number-eight on the UK Singles Charts becoming Sandé's second consecutive Top 10 Single. Sandé decided against using the name Adele Sandé, due to Adele's growing success, so used her middle name instead. She revealed: "I changed it as soon as Adele came out. I just thought, 'You've kind of taken the [name] now', so I went with my middle name. She was just getting bigger and bigger, so I thought I just really need it."
"Sandé, has an amazing soprano voice and is a true favorite of mine. I can sit and listen to her voice for hours and never ever tire of her so I am totally glad her sister had the foresight to send in that cd. She will certainly be a favorite of mine for many years to come and I wish her nothing more than continued success as a musical artist." Susan B. Anna