Helen Folasade Adu, born 16 January 1959), known professionally as Sade Adu or simply Sade is a British Nigerian singer, songwriter, and actress, known as the lead singer of her self-titled band. Sade is a singer who struck a cord around with world in the 1980s with sultry, soul-inspired songs like ‘Smooth Operator.’
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria and brought up in Essex, England, Sade gained modest recognition as a fashion designer and part-time model, prior to joining the band Pride in the early 1980s. After gaining attention as a performer, she formed the band Sade, and secured a recording contract with Epic Records in 1983. The band then released the album Diamond Life a year later, which became one of the best selling albums of the era, and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist. It also gained widespread critical acclaim and is largely considered one of the best albums of all time. In July 1985, Sade was among the performers at the Live Aid charity concert at Wembley Stadium.
In late 1985, they released Promise, which was also a resounding critical and commercial success, topping the UK Albums Chart and becoming the band’s first album to debut atop the Billboard 200. It later earned quadruple platinum certification in the U.S., and reached platinum across Europe. It also earned the group the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1986. Their following two releases, 1988’s Stronger Than Pride and 1992’s Love Deluxe, were also critically and commercially successful; however, the band would go on hiatus after the birth of Sade’s child, while the singer experienced widespread media coverage during the period for unsubstantiated claims of mental health and addiction issues.
After a spell of eight years without an album, which came after Sade appeared in the film Absolute Beginners (1986), the band reunited in 1999, and released Lovers Rock in 2000. The album departed from the jazz-inspired inflections of their previous work, featuring more mellow sounds and pop compositions, and was critically praised, earning the group the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. The band would then undergo another term of hiatus, not producing music for another ten years until the release of Soldier of Love. The album was another commercial success, although critical reception remained divided, but won the group the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Following the album’s release, the band entered a third period of hiatus, and have only released two new songs (2018’s “Flower of the Universe” for the soundtrack of Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time and The Big Unknown, part of the soundtrack for Steve McQueen’s film Widows) to date.
Sade is widely considered a musical influence, and her contributions to music have made her a global figure in popular culture for over two decades. She has been credited as one of the most successful British female artists in history. Her services to music were also recognized with an award of the Officer of the Order of the British Empire chivalry honour in 2002, and later the rank of the Commander of the same order in 2017.
The band’s sixth studio album, Soldier of Love, was released worldwide on 8 February 2010 and was the most recent album in ten years to contain new material. Upon release, the album received positive reviews and became a success. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200 in the United States with first-week sales of 502,000 copies. Soldier of Love became the band’s first album to debut at number-one and the band’s second album to peak at number-one on the chart. The album also had the best sales week by a group since Australian band AC/DC released their album Black Ice and entered the Billboard 200 at number-one in November 2008. Consequently, the band became the act with the longest hiatus between number-one albums, as the band’s Promise (1985) and Soldier of Love were separated by 24 years, 10 months and 2 weeks.
In April 2011, the band began their Sade Live tour(also known as the “Once in a Lifetime Tour” or the “Soldier of Love Tour”). The band toured Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia to promote the band’s sixth studio album and their second compilation album, The Ultimate Collection (2011). This trek marked the band’s first tour in nearly a decade and ranked 27th in Pollstar’s “Top 50 Worldwide Tour (Mid-Year)”, earning over 20 million dollars. At the conclusion of 2011, the tour placed tenth on Billboard’s annual “Top 25 Tours”, earning over $50 million with 59 shows. The tour was chronicled with Bring Me Home – Live 2011, released in May, 2012.
In March 2018, she (and the reunited band that also bears her name) released the acoustic ballad “Flower of the Universe” for the soundtrack to the Disney film A Wrinkle In Time. About asking Sade to contribute to the album, director Ava DuVernay wrote “I never thought she’d say yes, but asked anyway.” Later that year, Sade released “The Big Unknown” for the soundtrack to the 20th Century Fox film Widows. That film’s director, Steve McQueen stated that Sade agreed to write the song for the film, because “the original series of Widows had deeply resonated with her.” The successor to Soldier of Love is in the works.
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