Sade

January 16, 1959
  • Sade can refer to both the name of a group and that group's lead singer. The singer was born Helen Folasade Adu in Ibadan, Nigeria. Her father, Bisi Adu, was a Nigerian economics lecturer from Africa, while her mother, Anne Hayes, was a nurse from England. As a biracial child, Helen's racist neighbors in Nigeria began to call her Sade after they refused to call her by her real name of Helen. While Sade is the short form of Helen's middle name, Folasade, ironically, it means "honor confers a crown."
  • When Sade was only 4 years old, her parents separated, and Sade moved with her mother to London's North End where she grew up. As a teenager Sade developed a soulful singing voice by listening to Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Nina Simone. She got some jobs singing around London, but to pay the bills she worked as a bike messenger and a waitress. Her educational focus turned to fashion design when she attended St. Martin's School of Art in London.
  • After her studies, Sade began to do some modeling and fashion designing. She even designed some of the outfits worn by Spandau Ballet during the group's first US tour. Spandau Ballet, a London all-male band, was one of the most successful groups of the '80s. However, Sade decided to pursue her passion for music rather than continue as a successful fashion designer. In 1980 Sade began writing songs and joined the Latin-soul group Ariva, and then joined Pride in 1982 before creating the group Sade in 1983.
  • The breakout hit single by Sade was "Smooth Operator," from the group's debut album Diamond Life. Released in 1985 in the US, the song peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 as the first song by Sade to reach the Top Ten. The song, which was written by Sade and Ray Saint John from the band Pride, was about a high society man living a luxurious lifestyle. Lyrics include, "Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale," which inferred that the women in his life are also how he makes his money. Finishing lyrics say, "His heart is cold," meaning he had no love interest in his ladies; a real smooth operator in the sense.
  • Sade made her acting debut in 1986 as Athene Duncannon alongside David Bowie in the musical rock movie, Absolute Beginners, an adaptation of the novel by Colin MacInnes. She also performed the song "Killer Blow" for the film's soundtrack. The movie was initially a flop, but later became a cult classic mainly because of the soundtrack.
  • While Sade has appeared on the front and back covers of a special edition of Essence magazine in March 2001, Sade is a very shy person. In general, she avoids the media and rarely grants interviews. Sade has stated that, "I'm a diva, of course, but I'm not shy or reclusive. I just spend my time with people rather than journalists."

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