Sade (actually, Helen Folsade Adu)

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Sade (actually, Helen Folsade Adu)

Sade (actually, Helen Folsade Adu) , pop’s enigmatic, sultry, sophisticated chanteuse; b. Ibadan, Nigeria, Jan. 16, 1959. The daughter of a Nigerian teacher and an English nurse, Helen Folsade Adu left her birth country of Nigeria when her parents separated. Her mother moved back to London, where Sade (a nickname based on her middle name) eventually studied fashion design. Some of her creations went on tour with Spandau Ballet in the late 1970s. She also sang with a jazz funk band called Pride. Eventually, she took sax player and guitarist Stuart Matthewman, keyboard player Andrew Hale and bassist Paul Spencer Denman and formed her own band. The simple yet elegant song “Your Love Is King” brought them to the Top Ten throughout Europe, In 1985, she released her debut album Diamond Life. Launched with the internationally successful (#5 pop, #1 adult contemporary in the U.S.) “Smooth Operator,” the album also went to #5, sold quadruple platinum, and earned her a Best New Artist Grammy. Followed less than a year later by the chart topping, Promise she stayed on the pop charts with the #5 hit “The Sweetest Taboo,” which also topped the adult charts, and the #20 “Never As Good As the First Time.” She spent close to a year on the road supporting the two records. Promise eventually sold triple platinum.

Sade took a break, relocating to Madrid. She came back in 1988 with the self- produced album Stronger Than Pride, a pun on her earlier band. More raw than her first two records, it launched the hit “Paradise” which topped the R&B charts, and peaked at #16 pop. She spent over a year on the road with the album, which peaked at #7 and went triple platinum. It was another four years before she re-emerged with 1992’s Love Deluxe. In between, she was married to Spanish filmmaker Carlos Scola, and divorced a year later. Even more stripped down than Stronger Than Pride, Love Deluxe generated only a modest hit in the #28 “No Ordinary Love” but topped out at #3 and sold quadruple platinum anyway. Since the release of a greatest hits album in 1994, Sade has stayed out of the media spotlight.


Diamond Life (1984); Promise (1985); Stronger Than Pride (1988); Love Deluxe (1992); Best of (1994).

—Hank Bordowitz