Essential Albums

  • Love Deluxe
  • Diamond Life

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About Sade

Over the course of Sade’s decades-long career, the soulful singer has managed to explore every aspect of relationships—from meet-cutes to makeouts to bittersweet breakups. Born Helen Folasade Adu, in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1959, the future pop star was raised in Essex, England, and studied art and fashion at London’s Central Saint Martins. She launched her music career in the early ’80s as a backup singer in a jazz-funk band called Pride. She quickly moved to the front of the group, before leaving to form her own eponymous outfit and releasing its first single, “Your Love Is King”, in February of 1984. Sade’s debut album, Diamond Life followed in July, led by the low-key heartbreaker “Smooth Operator”. The combination of Sade’s velvety, breathy voice, chill R&B beats and signature look of slicked-back hair, gold hoops, and red lips were instantly iconic. Through albums like 1985’s Promise, 1992’s Love Deluxe, 2000’s Lovers Rock and 2010’s Soldier of Love, Sade’s music blended R&B, jazz, soul, funk, and Afro-Caribbean sounds, but never detracted from her singularly smooth voice. Sade releases music at her own pace, taking years-long breaks to focus on personal matters before returning to the spotlight. In 2018, she returned from an eight-year hiatus to contribute “Flower of the Universe” to the soundtrack for Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Despite her occasional absences, Sade’s look and sound remain widely influential—Kanye West has been spotted in her band’s t-shirt, Drake has two tattoos of her face on his torso, and artists ranging from The xx to Solange have introduced a new generation of cool kids to her guiding sound.

Essex, England

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