Sade Adu. With her voice, she’s a calm breeze of wind that caresses your cheek, who leaves soft kisses on the top of your head. A timeless muse whose vocality and band is enchanting and blissful. Where you feel you’re floating across clouds and is gently laid down on the softest of pillows. Sade’s music is like peaceful waterfalls that are meditative and mentally stimulating.
The half British and half Nigerian songstress has gone beyond the adaption of elegance. Her voice is filled with passion and pain that narrates the music beautifully. Nothing more than a musical goddess whose artistry creates colorful spaces and atmospheres that feel ethereal, while also feeling heavenly.
On January 16, 1959, is the day Helen Folasade Adu graced the face of the earth. A daughter of a Nigerian father and English mother, Sade Adu becomes a timeless muse for so many of our favorite artists of today such as Beyoncé, Drake, Kanye West, Deftones, Aaliyah, Kali Uchis and so many more.
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria her parents gifted her the middle-name Folasade which means to “honor confers a crown.” Soon after her parents got a divorce Sade Adu later moved Essex with her mother. While growing she listened to legendary soul artists such as Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, and Curtis Mayfield. Later along the years she went enrolled in St. Martin’s School of Art in London to study fashion. For extra money, she would sell some of her hand-crafted clothing items. Helen got her start in music by being a back-up singer for a band called, Pride, a Latin funk group in the early 1980s.
As their music was gaining more attraction, they ended up landing a performance at London’s famously known jazz venue, Ronnie Scott’s. This where she did a solo performance of “Smooth Operator” that she co-wrote. After gaining such an immense of positive feedback for her performance, it wasn’t long until A&Rs wanted her to go solo. Eventually, Sade split from the group along with Matthewman who the guitarist and saxophonist. They also got together Paul Denman, the drummer, and Paul Cook to form the band as we know today, Sade. On October 18th, 1983 she signed with Epic Records then a year later, the rest of the band had signed as well.
Soon After assembling the band they released their first debut single, “Your Love is King” on the hit album, Diamond Life in 1984. Blending the essence of R&B and soul with smooth jazz instrumentation through their 6-album discography, Sade Adu and the band were making groundbreaking music that made an impact across the globe. After releasing her second album Promise, featuring probably her biggest hit to date, “The Sweetest Taboo” peaked at number the US Billboard Hot 100, number one on the US Adult Contemporary chart, and number three on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.
This landed her first Grammy in 1986 as Best New Artist. Later along the years the band, Sade were cultivating multi-platinum albums, Love Deluxe released back in October 26th, 1992 which may be their biggest album to date (also my favorite) sold 3.4 million copies in the United States. The album also was also certified four times platinum. The album features, the massive hit single, “No Ordinary Love” that sounds like nothing else in this world. It’s Sade at their best. Sade Adu’s angelic and soothing voice dwells flawlessly on this record. Accompanying with oceanic synths, and the warmth of electric guitar it’s crafts sounds of romance.
(Fun fact: In 1986, Sade Adu also made her first acting debut with David Bowie in a film called Absolute Beginners)
In 1989 Sade Adu married Spanish filmmaker, Carlos Scola and then they got a divorce 3 years later. In the year 1995, she got with Jamaican producer, Bob Morgan and during their relationship she births her first child, Mickailia “Ila” Adu on 21 July 1996. During this time, Sade was an 8-year hiatus, and then in the year 2000 she released Lovers Rock, with her lead single “By Your Side” (The Neptunes later did a remix, which is better in my opinion.) After releasing Lovers Rock, she then went on a 10-year hiatus to raise her son. She then makes a return in 2010 to release Soldiers of Love.
Sade Adu is mythical and mysterious, someone who is precious whose music glimmers more than diamonds and shimmering champagne. She can’t be replicated. An enigma of black girl magic and nothing more than a marvel that has graced the face of the earth. She has had one of the biggest impacts on music history.
“I only make records when I feel like there’s something to say. I’m not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand” – Sade Adu
You can also check out her latest song, “Flower of the Universe” from Disney’s film A Wrinkle In Time that released back in 2018.