Celebrating The Iconic Sade Adu At 60

Iconic, drop dead gorgeous, talented, stylish, elusive, impressive, the list goes on. There may not be enough adjectives to describe the woman we all know as Sade Adu. Born Folasade Helen Adu, on 16th January 1959, in Ibadan Nigeria, to a Nigerian father (Adebisi Adu) and an English Mother (Anne Hayes), Sade lived in Nigeria with both parents until they separated 4 years later and then her mother moved, she and her brother back to England where they grew up.

We all must have encountered Sade’s music, either as a child or as young adults, from her first album ‘Diamond Life, which had songs like ‘Smooth Operator, Sweetest Taboo, Promise, Stronger than Pride, Lovers Rock (which sold about 50 Million copies). Sade has for over three decades serenaded us with her smooth vocals and evocative lyrics.

Sade who also managed to create her own distinctive looks, heavy bold eyebrows, cat’s eyes and stunning red lipstick, had a short stint as a fashion designer and model, but, in her own words “I didn’t fit in, I wasn’t reverent about fashion, I didn’t love it at all.” Later joined a band formed by a group of old school friends as a favour to them until they found a proper lead singer. And that singular decision sealed her fate and ended her frustrations. She moved on to another band called Pride, where she was a backup vocalist until her talent set her apart and eventually drew her out of the group, along with three of its members into a new group that bears her name, Sade.

Sade can be described as one of the most successful artistes of her time, till date and this is mostly due to a deal she struck with her recording company when she was first signed on. She had taken a small advance of £60,000 in exchange for 15% of the sale of her albums. It is a deal that has helped her immensely, leaving her free to pursue other passions while still earning a living.

As Sade Adu celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday, we are reminded of music which uses sage words, sensuous melodies, music which gave black girls of her time a sense of identity, music that embraced womanhood, music that was all about love without being vulgar. More importantly, we are reminded of a time when we could understand the words being sung by artistes, could immediately relate to the emotions the words communicated, and when music was more about what you were saying and less about how many singles you release in a year.

Sade is a mystery and still is, which is rare in this crazy internet age, and till date, Sade remains one of Nigeria’s biggest female music exports. Sade proves that one can still maintain and respect her own need for space, even after 35 years of doing good music.

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