Friday, August 19, 2011

La Régente: La Perle Napoléon






La Régente Pearl
Image courtesy of: http://image.nauka.bg




The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. ~ (Matt. XIII: 45, 46)




This stomacher or sévigné containing the remounted La Régente pearl at its centre was part of the French Crown Jewels
Image courtesy of: http://www.perles.tv



References to the sea-born pearl are not only found in the Bible. The princely pearl - long-since affiliated with chastity, beauty and unblemished purity - has been valued in many cultures throughout the passages and pages of history and mentioned in literature pre-dating that of the New Testament. In Hindu literature, for example, the pearl is frequently associated with Krishna - the eighth incarnation of Vishnu - possibly the most popular and beloved god of Hindu worship. One Hindu legend tells of how Krishna drew the pearl from the depths of the sea to adorn Pandaïa, his daughter, on her wedding day. Many ancient Chinese writers credited pearls as originating in the brain of the fabled dragon; as such, pearls were believed to possess special powers and were utilized as amulets or charms against natural disasters such as fires, for instance. And as it is described according to the Qur'an, the Arabs believed that the very stones of Paradise itself are made of pearls and jacinths; the trees are hung with fruits of pearls and emeralds; and each blessed person admitted into the joys of Paradise is provided with a tent of pearls, jacinths and emeralds. 


Possessing pearl resources in rich abundance, the natives of India and Persia found both beauty and value in pearls; they were among the first peoples to collect them in great quantities (since ancient times, the Persian Gulf as well as the Indian Ocean have been rich in pearl-fisheries). In China, pearls were highly esteemed gifts and were often given as tribute by foreign princes to the Emperor. (Source: Kunz, G.F., & Stevenson, C.H., The Book of The Pearl, 1993)


Peculiarly evocative of Oriental luxury and magnificence, the allure of the pearl is that, being totally organic and non-mineral in origin, pearls are perfected by nature and found whole; unlike crystal gems, therefore, pearls are the only gems that require no enhancement by the hand of man. As a complete gem, the value of pearls is directly connected to and dependent upon size, weight, rarity, colour and, most captivating of all, lustre. It is a pearl's lustre that has enchanted men and women throughout the centuries and fueled the desires of connoisseurs in their search for perfect specimens. But of all the qualities sought in a pearl, perhaps the single most beguiling and irresistible attraction for the pearl-hunter/lover is the emotional response or affinity a person experiences in connection with the beauty of pearls - it is an attraction that compels the individual to want to possess them. That value - and visceral reaction - is exponentially enhanced and magnified when a particular pearl or gem has a significant historical - and especially a royal - provenance attached to it. In that context, 'La Peregrina' and its counterpart, 'La Régente' (also known as 'La Perle Napoléon'), are undoubtedly two of the most celebrated pearls.


Marie-Louise, Archduchess of Austria and Empress of France
(Painting by Robert Jacques François Faust Lefevre ~ 1814)
Image courtesy of: http://historyfan.tumblr.com



The oldest of seven children and daughter of François II (1768-1835), Emperor of Austria, Marie-Louise (1791-1847) was the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Emperor of France and the niece of the beheaded former queen of France, Marie-Antoinette. In 1810, shortly after his divorce from Josephine and at the height of his power but also for political reasons as well, Napoleon, at the age of forty, was anxious to found a Bonapartean dynasty. For his bride, Napoleon chose to wed the eighteen-year-old Marie-Louise (by proxy in the church of St. Augustine, Vienna, on March 11th and again, in person, on April 2nd in Paris) who was fluent in French and had an affinity for art and music. In celebration of the occasion, Napoleon bought his new bride numerous parures (matching sets of jewellery), the intention of which was to dazzle all of Europe and, thereby, adding to the Crown Jewels of France. These parures were all commissioned from and created by François-Regnault Nitot (1779-1853), the court jeweller, and sold to Napoleon prior to 1813 for the amount of 6,600,000 gold francs (gold francs being the old French currency in use until the onset of World War II). (Sources: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France, [1988] christies.com, 2011; napoleonexhibit.com, 2009; germanmilitaryhistory.com, 2011)


Amongst this collection of matching jewel-sets was a magnificent parure of pearls worth 123,429 francs, which included a tiara - set with 297 pearls - with, at its centre, a perfect drop-shaped natural saltwater pearl weighing 337 old grains - the size, shape and dimension of a pigeon's egg - making it the biggest natural, regularly-shaped pearl on earth: La Régente. For the La Régente pearl alone, Nitot charged Napoleon only 40,000 gold francs (about 500,000 euros today), or the equivalent of 10kg of pure gold. Nitot sold the pearl to Napoleon, who acquired it on  September 28th, 1811. A shrewd business man who knew the value of marketing, by offering a low-pricing policy to royalty - thus garnering royal patronage - Nitot ensured not only his own prestige among European nobility and the wealthy, fashionable elite, but, more importantly, generated business among them. (There is no known portrait of Marie-Louise wearing the tiara in existence and nothing is known about the pearl prior to its sale in September 1811.)
(Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France, [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France, Duchesse d'Angoulême
(Painting by Alexandre-François Caminade ~ 1827)
Image courtesy of: http://www.fanpop.com



After Napoleon was exiled and replaced by Louis XVIII (1755-1824) as King of France in 1814 (a period referred to as the First Restoration; when Napoleon again seized power in March of 1815 and once more was ousted and replaced by the return of Louis XVIII to power, that second reign is known as the Second Restoration), the new king ordered Evrard Bapst, the Crown Jeweller at that time, to remodel the crown jewels. La Régente, along with the remainder of the pearl parure of which it was a part, was set into the centre of a new  tiara  which was dilevered to the king on July 20th, 1820. However, since both Louis XVIII as well as his brother and successor Charles X (1757-1836) were widowers, the newly-transformed parures were worn by their niece, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France (1778-1851), Duchesse d'Angoulême and surviving daughter of the hapless Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.  (Marie-Thérèse had married her cousin, the Duc d'Angoulême, elder son of Charles X, thus becoming Madame la Duchesse d'Angoulême.) The tiara was also worn by Marie-Thérèse's sister-in-law, Marie-Caroline Ferdinande Louise de Bourbon, Princesse des Deux-Siciles (1798-1870), Duchesse de Berry, wife of Charles Ferdinande, Duc de Berry, second son of Charles X. As with Empress Marie-Louise, there are no known portraits of the two princesses wearing the tiara. (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)


Marie-Caroline Ferdinande Louise de Bourbon, Duchesse de Berry 
(Painting by Thomas Lawrence ~ 1825)
Image courtesy of: http://uk.ask.com



During the next reign, that of Louis-Philippe (1830-1848; born in 1773 and died in 1840), King of the French, the Crown Jewels were not worn until the dawn of the Third Republic. In 1853, La Régente pearl found its way into the possession of another empress - that of Eugénia de Montijo de Guzmán, the Spanish consort of Nappoleon III.
(Sources: britannica.com, 2011; Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Eugénia María Ignace Augustine de Montijo de Guzmán, Empress of France
(Painting by Franz-Xavier Winterhalter ~ 1853)
Image courtesy of: http://www.gogmsite.net



Eugénia María Ignace Augustine de Montijo de Guzmán (1826-1920), a celebrated beauty in her day, was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman who had fought on the side of the French during Napoleon I’s Peninsular War with Spain. Eugénia arrived in Paris in December 1848, during the time when Louis-Napoléon (1808-1873) - as he was then known until 1852 - was vying for votes for the presidential office of the Second Republic of France (1850-1852). They were married on January 29th, 1853, after Louis-Napoléon had ascended the throne as Emperor Napoleon III (reigned from 1852-1870).
(Source:  britannica.com, 2011)


A lover of jewellery and fashion, Eugénie (as her Frenchified name became known) asked for the Crown Jewels and immediately set about transforming them according to her own taste. (As Empress of France and at the height of her power in the mid-19th century,  Eugénie naturally set the taste of fashion; it is in her role as a trendsetter that she almost single-handedly raised the rank of pearls to the heights of fashion, making them popular and fashionable again: she appeared in Winterhalter portraits bedecked in ropes and diadems of pearls and diamonds.)  On this occasion, Gabriel Lemonnier of 25 Place Vendôme, then Imperial Jeweller to the new court, was called upon to create a superb pearl and diamond corsage in a style that harked back to the18th-Century, at the centre of which shone the enormous - and newly-adapted and remounted - La Régente pearl, originally purchased by Napoleon I for Marie-Louise, the last Empress of France, in 1811. (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Grand Pearl Diadem of the French Crown Jewels
Eugénie's tiara created by the Crown Jeweller, Lemonnier, using the Napoleonic pearls
Image courtesy of: http://www.latribunedelart.com



During the Third Republic, the Crown Jewels of France were exhibited only twice: once during the Exposition Universelle in 1878 and a second time, in 1884, at the State Hall of the Louvre in benefit of the School of Industrial Arts. Here, an octagonal showcase displayed the parures; one of the eight panels was entirely occupied by the pearl parure, in the middle of which sat Eugénie's diamond-and-pearl corsage. In the same showcase, there was also a fabulous tiara (see above photo) - also created in 1853 by Lemonnier using the Napoleonic pearls - which was eventually purchased by the von Thurn-und-Taxis family in the sale of the French Crown Jewels in 1887. (Since 1992 the tiara has been in the possession of the Louvre Museum.) (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Close-up of Winterhalter's portrait of Empress Eugénie wearing the Grand Pearl Diadem



Although no one knows with any certainty the origin of the pearl's name, La Régente or La Perle Napoléon, it is believed to be due to the fact that two Napoleonic empresses were elevated to the rank of Regent during their consorts' absence: Empress Marie-Louise's elevation to Regent by Napoleon Bonaparte during his absence while campaigning in Germany in January 1813; similarly, Empress Eugénie was also appointed regent by Napoleon III when he was in the front line during the Franco-German War of 1870. At any rate, in 1887, a disaster befell the French Crown Jewels: by parliamentary decision of the Third Republic and for eleven days, between May the 12th and the 23rd, a public auction sale - Vente des Diamants de la Couronne - was held in which some of France's national treasures were sold to the highest bidders and were scattered to the four corners of the world. (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)

 
Portrait of Princess Zénaïde Youssoupov
(Painting by Valentin Serov)



Prior to the sale and by demand from some of the most prominent and prestigious jewel firms in the world, the Administration of State Properties issued a catalogue; but the catalogue illustrations were found to be far too small and therefore, inadequate. At the request of the jewellers, actual-size photographs of the most important pieces in the collection were taken by the photographer Berthaud. Included in the sale and amongst Berthaud's photographs was Empress Eugénie's famous pearl and diamond corsage -  lot number 42. It was sold for 176,000 gold francs to a Frenchman, M. Jacques Rossel. For the sake of discretion, Jacques Rossel was in fact acting on behalf of Peter Carl Fabergé, Imperial court jeweller to the Tsar and the Imperial Family of Russia, the Romanovs. Fabergé had shown the auction catalogue to Prince Nicholas Youssoupov, a member of the wealthiest and most aristocratic families in Russia, who was interested in the enormous La Régente pearl; Prince Nicholas wanted to give it to his only daughter, the exquisitely beautiful Princess Zénaïde (1861-1939). (Princess Zénaïde's younger son, Prince Felix Youssoupov, would become famous for the notorious role he played in the assassination of Gregory Efimovich Rasputin on the night of December 16th-17th, 1916, in St. Petersburg.) (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Portrait of Princess Zénaïde Youssoupov With Her Two Sons At Arkhangelskoe
(Painting by François Flameng ~ 1894)
Image courtesy of: http://blogs.privet.ru



At that time, in addition to numerous palatial estates throughout Russia, each amassed with artworks, objets d'art and other invaluable treasures beyond compare, the Youssoupov family owned the most fabulous privately-owned jewellery collection in all of Russia; the Youssoupov jewels were rivalled only by those of the Romanovs. Having inherited the historic La Régente, Princess Zénaïde must have been proud of owning a pearl larger than the largest one in the Russian Crown Jewels: although of a perfect oval egg-shape, the 'Empress of Russia,' as the Russian pearl was named, weighed a sizable 308 old grains but it was still smaller than the La Régente (which was 337 old grains or 346.87 new grains).
(Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Princess Zénaïde Youssoupov



Princess Zénaïde, finding La Régente too large to wear as a brooch, was in the habit of wearing it as a head ornament, counter-balanced by another  extraordinary and historically important  pearl, 'La Pellegrina' (not to be confused with the 'La Peregrina' pearl), hung from a rope of pearls, just above her forehead.  Zénaïde also wore La Régente suspended as a pendant at the end of a long pearl sautoir necklace around her neck, sometimes diagonally across her bosom.


But Fabergé was not the only jeweller of note at the 1887 sale; the firm of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, also acquired many important jewels. However, Jacques Rossel, representing Fabergé at the auction, was only interested in Empress Eugénie's pearl-and-diamond corsage. This indicates that Fabergé may have been primarily after the La Régente pearl. While there is no record or account of what became of the pearl's former setting, the pearl-and-diamond corsage, after Fabergé had acquired it, it is believed that since the overall style of the corsage was out of fashion by then and having sold the pearl separately to Prince Nicholas Youssoupov, Fabergé used the rest of the stones and pearls for the fabrication of other jewellery. (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Princess Zénaïde Youssoupov wearing the magnificent La Régente on a long pearl sautoir
(Painting by François Flameng ~ 1894)
Image courtesy of: http://blog.xfree.hu





Learn from yon orient shell to love thy foe,
And store with pearls the wound that brings thee woe.” ~ Hafiz (Persian poet)




From Zénaïde Youssoupov, La Régente entered the turbulent 20th Century through her younger and only surviving son, Prince Felix Youssoupov, who presented the magnificent pearl to his own bride as a wedding gift in 1914: Princess Irina Alexandrovna, niece of Tsar Nicholas II. In the latter part of 1917, Russia was in the throes of revolutionary turmoil as the Red Terror swept through the country; drunken soldiers plundered properties, looted possessions and murdered estate owners without secondary thought or remorse. To save his own life and the lives of his wife and their young daughter, Prince Felix fled St. Petersburg for the Crimea - where the Youssoupovs had an estate - taking with him only a minute fraction of the Youssoupov treasure (mostly jewellery and a few paintings), including the beautiful 'La Pellegrina' pearl weighing 133.6 grains (sold by Christie's Geneva on May 14th, 1987, lot no. 556). When Felix, Irina and their daughter, also named Irina (known as Bebé in the family), finally fled Revolutionary Russia for good on April 11th, 1919, aboard the British dreadnought HMS Marlborough, they did so from Yalta, on the north coast of the Black Sea, along with the last surviving members of the Romanov clan.  Felix and Irina at first settled in London (where Felix had a house since his days at Oxford University, before the Great War, at 15 Parkside Street, overlooking Hyde Park) and then in Paris; as with most refugees, they believed their exile to be only a temporary displacement. And so, like many of their fellow White Russian exiles, the Youssoupovs always longed for the day when they would be able to finally return to Russia and reclaim their possessions. (Sources: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011; King, G., The Man Who Killed Rasputin, 1995)


With that thought present in his mind and before leaving Russia just ahead of the advancing Red Army, Prince Felix took the precaution, in 1917, of concealing many of the Youssoupovs' prized heirlooms in the basement of his St. Petersburg residence, the Moika Palace (the same palace where Rasputin had been murdered), as well as in the walls of one of the five Youssoupov mansions situated around Moscow: Felix divided his mother's and his wife's jewels and stored some of the cache in one of a number of secret rooms of the Moika Palace in St. Petersburg; the rest were hidden at the Moscow residence. Deposited in the Moika Palace rooms were forty-seven thousand items that ranged the spectrum from paintings, musical instruments, snuffboxes, coins, tapestries, silver, antiques, weapons and, of course, jewels. The stash of jewels walled up in the Moscow palace remained concealed; until, that is, their discovery in 1925 when the Soviet government began a restoration project of the Moscow house. In his determination to outwit the Bolsheviks and preserve his family's priceless heirlooms, Felix had built a false wall beneath the main staircase, thereby enclosing what had once been a cloakroom. For years, the Bolsheviks had searched the house for hidden treasure but to no avail - until an acquaintance of Felix's disclosed the fact that there had once been a room below the staircase. Here at last, in the secret room, the Bolsheviks discovered a veritable Aladdin's trove: 255 diamond brooches; 42 bracelets; 13 tiaras and 462 pounds of assorted objet d'arts, among which were gold dinnerware and some very fine examples from the Fabergé workshop. It was in one of these troves - uncovered in either the Moika Palace or the Moscow mansion - that the superb La Régente pearl came to light. (Source: King, G., The Man Who Killed Rasputin, 1995)


The treasures uncovered by the Bolshevik Regime were laid out on a table and photographed; then the contents were sold at different times and in various cities, including Paris, London and Berlin. For this very reason, the prospect of ever finding the La Régente pearl again was next to nil. (Sources: King, G., The Man Who Killed Rasputin, 1995; Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Prince Felix & Princess Irina Youssoupov of Russia
Image courtesy of: http://www.paraquesirve.net



No one knows exactly when the famous La Régente pearl was sold by the Bolsheviks; all that is known with any amount of certainty is that between the years 1950 and 1987, the pearl remained in the possession of one family (who wish to remain anonymous). On June 16th, 1987, the family decided to auction the La Régente at Christie's New York (lot no. 385). There is every indication that this same family was completely unaware of the pearl's legacy and its fabulous history (this is deduced from the fact that the pearl was presented anonymously in the auction catalogue without any mention of its weight or name; only its Russian origin was acknowledged). At the time, the pearl was mounted as a pendant suspended from a delicate tour de cou (choker) set with eighteen brilliant-cut coloured diamonds. However, the pendant supporting the pearl was older and comprised of a diamond Russian Imperial Crown atop four old-cut diamonds. It is likely that this is the very same pendant as it was offered by Prince Felix Youssoupov to his bride in 1914, who, as the only Russian niece of the Tsar, had every right and entitlement to wear the Romanov coat of arms.


Less than one year later, on May 12th, 1988, La Régente came up for auction once more at Christie's in Geneva (lot no. 701); at this sale, the pearl was sold for the first time under the name 'La Régente.' There was some doubt, among historians, as to the authenticity of the pearl's origin. The foremost objection being the pearl's weight (302.68 new grains instead of 346.87 new grains [337 old grains] - a weight difference of 43.59 grains).  The  pearl, after analysis at the Gübelin Gem Lab, (headquartered in Lucerne, Switzerland), appeared to have been peeled and re-polished although it is unknown when exactly this was done. (Pearls can lose their lustre and become dull over time, especially if they are exposed to acidic sweat through regular contact with skin. The solution would be to peel off one layer of the nacre, as one would do with an onion, before re-polishing it, which may explain the diminished weight of La Régente.) The other objection was the pearl's setting, which appeared to be an obvious copy of the diamond mount from which it used to be suspended from the 1887 corsage of Empress Eugénie. Nonetheless, the flattened back, the lustre and the shape were very much compatible with earlier descriptions of the pearl as noted in the inventories of 1814, 1832 and 1875.
(Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



Princess Irina Youssoupov, niece of Tsar Nicholas II 
(Painting by Zinaida Serebriakova ~ 1925)
Image courtesy of: http://www.wikipaintings.org/



Allotted number 354, La Régente was put up for auction yet again on November 16th, 2005, at Christie's Magnificent Jewels (Sale 1331, Hotel Richemond, Geneva). With an estimated value of between $532,062 and $836,097; La Régente actually realized $2,483,968, exceeding all expectations. (Source: christies.com, 2011)


La Regénte or 'La Perle Napoléon' - as it is also referred to - remains to this day the biggest known regularly shaped pearl in the world. There are other beautiful pearls of note, but none surpass La Regénte in size, shape or weight. The 'Pearl of Asia,' (estimated to weigh 2,500 grains) is, in fact, a baroque (irregularly shaped) pearl - as is the 'Hope Pearl' of 1,800 grains, which is, moreover, a freshwater pearl. There exists in Iran a white pearl, set in a gold flower, estimated to weigh 600 grains but it is also baroque just as is another pearl without name, weighing 303 grains. With regards to the drop-shaped Shah Sofi pearl of Iran, discovered in the 17th Century and mentioned by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier - one of the most celebrated travellers of the 17th Century who pioneered trade with India and is especially famous for his connection with the notorious and mythical 'Hope Diamond' - as being sold to the Shah of Persia and weighing 500 grains, it has long since disappeared and no longer features in the treasure of Iran. The only pearl left to compete with La Regénte is the 'Empress of Russia' pearl, weighing 308 old grains as noted earlier. However, no one presently knows its whereabouts. (Source: Morel, B., Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France [1988], christies.com, 2011)



The La Régente pearl as it appeared in the pearl-and-diamond corsage of Empress Eugénie ~1887
Image courtesy of: http://nobleyreal.blogspot.com




Heaven-born and cradled in deep blue sea, it is the purest of gems and the most precious.” ~ S. M. Zwemer




Suggested reading:


The Book of The Pearl (1993), by George Frederick Kunz & Charles Hugh Stevenson: Dover Publications, Inc.




Friday, August 5, 2011

Strong & Tender: The Musical Career of Sade





Helen Folasade Adu
Image courtesy of: http://muzyka.dziennik.pl
 




“ ...when I do an album it takes so much out of me because I have to be in a special place when I do these albums! I have to be on a certain level of peace and, you know, life throws you a lot; that level can not be reached on command so I spend that time trying to get inspired.





   
 Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO






Generally speaking, the popular music industry is not known for producing great music that can withstand that most rigorous of tests: time. By its very nature, the music industry is nothing more than a glorified sound factory, churning out dime-a-dozen pop stars to satiate the demands of an audience whose diminishing attention span grows increasingly lacking - and younger. (The majority of juvenile audiences are highly unlikely to possess the maturity - and ear - required to appreciate the subtle nuances of a well-constructed, well-formed ballad; though undoubtedly, a few may and do.)


Over the years, this same music industry has seen its fair share of ill-behaved, ill-mannered "pop divas" - needy, demanding stars whose egos seem to outgrow their personalities too fast and a little too disproportionate in relation to the mediocrity of their talents, each vying for a sliver of fame or worse, notoriety, at whatever cost and by whatever means necessary. (By being difficult, these "stars" only manage to project the wrong, distorted impression of what a true "diva" is and set a false standard of what "diva" behaviour entails; real divas are very few and far in between.) A great number of these pop stars vanish from the scene with the same haste with which they have arrived on it. That said, on rare occasion, the industry is also capable of producing (and has) an enduring original, a unique artist and a dazzling star, who successfully negotiates its bleak musical sound-scape. Meet Helen Folasade Adu, an incandescent, elusive Garbo among generic starlets in an industry replete with one-hit-wonders. With a musical career that spans the better part of twenty-seven years, it is one of the longest-lasting. 



Image courtesy of: http://assets.rollingstone.com



Helen Folasade Adu was born in Ibadan, capital city of Oyo State, Nigeria, on January 16th, 1959. Her mother, Anne Hayes, an English nurse, had met a Nigerian fellow by the name of Adebisi Adu who was in London studying economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) at the time; the couple moved to Nigeria after they had married and where Adebisi worked as a university professor and lecturer of economics. When Helen Folasade was born, none of the Nigerian locals were prepared to call the girl by her English name, Helen, and a shortened vesrion of Folasade - Sade - stuck. (Folasade means "crowning glory" in Yoruba, one of Nigeria's six major languages, and is quite usual for it to be shortened to either Fola or Sade.)  The Adu marriage did not endure and, when Sade was four years of age, her parents opted for a separation. After their separation, Anne moved back to England with her two young children, where the family initially lived with Sade's maternal grandparents, at Anne's parental home, just outside of Colchester, Essex. (The Adus also produced a son, their firstborn - and Sade's only, older sibling - Banji Adu.)


In her youth in the 1970s, Sade listened to American soul music, particularly to artists such as Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Billie Holiday. (As a teenager, Sade attended a Jackson-5 concert at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park - she worked behind the bar at weekends - where she was more intrigued by the motley crowds assembled for the Jacksons' performance than she was by the performers on stage. “I was more fascinated by the audience than by anything that was going on on the stage. They'd attracted kids, mothers with children, old people, white, black. I was really moved. That's the audience I've always aimed for.”) But ironically, music was not Sade's first choice as a career; her chief interest was fashion design. At the age of seventeen, she moved to London where she enrolled in a three-year course at the renowned Central Saint Martin's School Of Art in order to study and pursue a career in fashion(Sources & Quote: sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011; timeforsade.com, undated)



Image courtesy of Corbis Images: http://www.corbisimages.com



After completing the fashion program, Sade partnered with a friend by the name of Sarah Lubell and started a clothing line, "Demob." However, the business side of the venture was not as stimulating as the creative side - designing - and Sade became somewhat disenchanted with it. During this time, in addition to working as a waitress, she also worked as a model, taking on some odd, minor jobs to make ends meet. While at a reggae concert at some point in the early 1980s, Sade ran into a couple of old school friends with a fledgling band who sought her assistance with some vocals. Although Sade loved music, she had no experience - or intention of - singing; her acquaintances insisted, nonetheless, that she looked like a singer and invited her to join their band. Sade reluctantly acquiesced to assist her friends by singing vocals, but just temporarily and only until they found a proper singer - that was how Sade's foray into the music business inadvertently began. (Sources: sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011; timeforsade.com, undated; shapersofthe80s.com, 2011)


Image courtesy of: http://completevii.com



But being on stage and singing for a live audience is an intimidating experience, to say the least, and one that did not come easily or naturally to Sade, and it made her nervous; instead, she enjoyed song-writing which seemed to come naturally to her. Two years later she had managed to overcome her stage fright enough to sing back-up vocals with a North London Latin funk band called Pride. “I used to get on stage with Pride, like, shaking. I was terrified. But I was determined to try my best, and I decided that if I was going to sing, I would sing the way I speak, because it's important to be yourself,” Sade has recalled of that time. (Quote & source: sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011)



Sade singing back-up with Pride
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But before Pride, there was Arriva. Not long after joining her friends' group, Sade came to Lee Barrett's attention, the manager of a band called Arriva; Barrett thought that Sade would make a good addition to his band and asked her to audition as a back-up singer. While still insisting that she was not a singer, Sade agreed to audition for the band but was ultimately rejected; when no better singer could be found, Barret relented and asked her to join Arriva. The outcome, sparked by Sade’s addition to the band, resulted in a name change: the band formerly known as Arriva became Pride.
(Source: timeforsade.com, undated)


Pride performing outside of "Beat Route" on the back of a lorry truck ~ ca. 1982
Image courtesy of: http://judecalverttoulmin.blogspot.com


Sade Adu performing with Pride at London's "Fridge Club" (Left) ~ September, 1982
The newly-formed Sade performs at London's "Yow Club" (Right - Paul Denman in the foreground) ~ August, 1983
Image courtesy of: http://shapersofthe80s.com



Other musicians (one, a young saxophone player by the name of Stuart Matthewman; another, a bass player named Paul Spencer Denman) also auditioned for Pride. Sade and Matthewman soon formed a camaraderie and the two began working on their own songs, aside from the larger Pride set. Musically, the songs she and Matthewman wrote were elemental combinations of Soul, American Rhythm & Blues and Pop - tinged with a jazzy sound that also amalgamated the subtle tempos of Latin and Reggae beats. Sade provided the lyrics which were intense and personal, allowing each song to narrate its own story. The end result was a sound that was uniquely Sade's and nearly genre-less.
(Source: timeforsade.com, undated)

 
Sade in 1983
Image courtesy of: http://shapersofthe80s.com



Her time with Pride gave Sade the apprenticeship - and her first experience of touring - she needed: for three years, beginning in 1981, the seven members of Pride travelled throughout the United Kingdom on tour (with Sade, quite often, at the wheel). One feature of Pride's shows was a segment in which Sade fronted a quartet that played quieter, jazzier numbers. One of these, a song called Smooth Operator, which Sade had co-written with Pride guitarist Ray St. John, attracted much attention, including that of record company talent scouts. (Smooth Operator was written in order to highlight Sade in a solo act during one of Pride’s sets.) (Sources: sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011; timeforsade.com, undated)


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Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO



Band members Stuart Matthewman and Paul Denman, along with a drummer by the name of Paul Cooke, accompanied by Sade Adu on lead vocals, decided to form an independent ensemble of their own but with the intent of still remaining a part of Pride. The new group lacked a name, so the group decided to call themselves after their lead singer and front-woman, Sade, and the band debuted as the opening act for Pride at London's famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Sade opened with a rendition of Timmy Thomas’s Why Can’t We Live Together alongside two of their own compositions, Cherry Pie and Hang On To Your Love. (Source: timeforsade.com, undated)




 
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It did not take long for Sade's popularity to soar and she found herself in demand. With everyone wanting to sign Sade as a newly-discovered (solo) artist - without the rest of Pride's group members - it also became obvious to the other members of the group that a Pride recording contract was not forthcoming. Fiercely loyal to her friends in the group, Sade adamantly refused to sign any contracts and abandon her Pride colleagues. Eighteen months later, however, she relented and signed with CBS Records (Epic) - but with the stipulation that her new band include three former Pride band mates. (Those same former Pride members still comprise the entity known as Sade: saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale, a newly recruited keyboard player, and bassist Paul Spencer Denman. The new and smaller ensemble, Sade, continued under the management of Lee Barrett. And so, from the beginning, the musicians surrounding Sade have always consisted of long-time band members who all share a long history together. That consistency is a feature of some of the best and most enduring bands in the music industry.) (Sources: sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011; J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010; timeforsade.com, undated)



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Produced by Robin Millar along with  production engineer Mike Pela, and  recorded at the Power Plant Studios in the Willesdon section of London in 1984, Sade were at last ready to release their first album, Diamond Life, on July the 16th. (As Sade explained in interviews, the title of the album referred to a hard-edged, multifaceted but brilliant life. At that juncture in her life, at the time of Diamond Life's release, her own was far from anything remotely 'brilliant': she was living in a converted fire-station flat in Finsbury Park, London, that she shared with her then boyfriend, Robert Elms, a style journalist, together with a cat named "Cylinders." Their flat, lacking any form of proper heating, meant that she had to get dressed in bed; the bath was in the kitchen.) When she first appeared on the recording scene in 1984, Epic, Sade's record company at the time, made a point of printing “pronounced shar-day” after her name on the record labels of her releases; the first magazine articles and reviews of Diamond Life and its lead vocalist, advised their readers of the same. In February of that same year, Sade's first single, Your Love Is King, became a top-ten hit in the United Kingdom and with that, her life - and that of the band's - changed ever after. (Sade had agreed to a small advance in exchange for an unusually high percentage of record sales. Since Diamond Life, Sade have sold more than fifty-million albums worldwide. It was a shrewd move that subsequently made them all very wealthy.) (Sources: timeforsade.com, undated; sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011; Hogan, E., All Music Guide, billboard.com, 2011)






From the start of her musical career, Sade's "look" played a significant role in her image. It must be remembered that, at that time - the early to mid-1980s - teased big hair, big make-up, and outlandish costumes with equally big personas to match were de rigueur for any pop star on the rise, male or female. Sade was completely different. Her clean, soignée "look" of  severely pulled-back hair, smoky eyes (paired with an equally smoky voice), red lips, simple gold hooped-earrings and gloves, was decidedly understated; it was a "look" that exuded an insouciantly cool sophistication and one that set her immediately apart from the rest of her contemporaries.  The easy elegance of the music, jazzy in sound, in conjunction with her polished image - that of a slightly exotic chanteuse - launched Sade as the female face of the fashion-conscious 1980s and she became a style icon (long before the term became so carelessly tossed about and overused) as magazines eagerly queued to place her image on their covers. “It wasn't marketing,” she has said of her image. “It was just me. And I wasn't trying to promote an image.” (Source & quote: sade.com, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Ltd., 2011)
 

Image courtesy of: http://www.last.fm
 



 




 
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Sade in 1985
(Photo by Paul Natkin)
Image courtesy of: http://www.bvonbeauty.com


 
Diamond Life was a phenomenal success - it spent ninety-eight weeks on the U.K. charts and eighty-one weeks on the Billboard charts in the U.S.; it won a BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Award for Best Album as well as a Grammy for Best New Artist. While still promoting their first album, Sade began working on their second release: Promise. The album's title was derived from a letter that Sade's father, Adebisi Adu, had sent her. In the letter, her father had written the phrase “promise of hope.” In the span of their twenty-seven-year career, Promise has the unique distinction of being the only Sade album to immediately follow its predecessor. As before, the band worked with Robin Millar and Mike Pela, and recording began once again at the Power Plant Studios. But due to mounting media pressure - a combination of fascination and curiosity about Sade and her private life - the recording sessions had to be relocated to a studio in France, Studio Miraval (in Provence). (Sources: timeforsade.com, undated; homdrum.net, 2011)



(Photo by Paul Natkin)
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Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO



Promise included eleven tracks, beginning with Is It A Crime. The tracks, the lyrics of which were written by Sade, focused on life, love, friendship and loss. As would always be the case with lyrics penned by Sade for successive albums in years to come, the songs were bitter-sweet and from a somewhat personal, autobiographical perspective. Shortly after its release in November 1985, Promise quickly rose to the number one spot on the U.K. album charts. Led by the release of the single The Sweetest Taboo in the United States, Promise became a number one album there as well, selling over four-million copies; Promise became a huge international success. To promote the new album, Sade embarked on a world tour that began in 1985 and stretched into 1986. The Promise Tour included performances in the U.K., continental Europe, Australia as well as Japan and featured Sade’s first U.S. concert dates, beginning with a performance at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall. In all, the tour saw the band perform more than eighty-eight concerts with a combined audience of approximately 300,000 people. The album also produced three videos (filmed in Spain and directed by Brian Ward): The Sweetest Taboo, Is It A Crime and Never As Good As The First Time. (Source: timeforsade.com, undated)




 
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The tour, though by all means successful, was racked by personal tragedy, interruptions and tabloid speculation. In the autumn of 1985 and just prior to the release of Promise, Adebisi Adu passed away unexpectedly in Nigeria and promotional appearances had to be postponed while Sade returned to Nigeria to attend her father's funeral. The lengthy span of the tour, combined with the intrusive interest and speculation into Sade's personal life, were rigorous: Sade, an intensely private individual, keenly felt that the European tabloid press were invasive, particularly in regards to her love life. Matters were not helped when, at a performance in Frankfurt, Germany, Sade walked off of the stage before the final encore. It was an action that, as she later explained, was due to exhaustion and frustration and she categorically denied that drugs were in any way involved in the matter. (For the record, she did not walk out in the middle of the Frankfurt show, shouting, “hang on to your love.”) Troubles and frustrations aside, the Promise Tour continued on but came to a halt once more when Mrs. Ethna Matthewman, Stuart Matthewman’s mother, fell gravely ill and died shortly thereafter in England. The group decided to cancel several European dates, fueling even more speculation. Eventually, Sade resumed the tour and made up the cancelled tour dates. (Source & quote: timeforsade.com, undated)
 



 
Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO


 



After a brief introduction on July 13th, 1985, at precisely 2:53 in the afternoon, Sade took to the stage at London's Wembley Stadium and performed a set of three songs to a worldwide viewing audience, tuned in via satellite. The set opened with Why Can't We Live Together, moved on to Your Love Is Kind and culminated with Is It A Crime. The event was Live Aid, a globally televised musical benefit concert - the first of its kind - for African relief that took place simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic (in London at Wembley Stadium and in Philadelphia at the J.F.K. Stadium). Sade's performance ended at 3:09, lasting for just sixteen minutes.



Sade performs on stage at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985 ~ London, England
Image courtesy of: http://www.rankopedia.com



Live Aid was the summer follow-up to Band Aid, a single released at the end of 1984. The Christmas hit, Do They Know It's Christmas, was the brainchild of Irish musician Bob Geldof who had been stirred to action after watching a news broadcast about the Ethiopian drought in Africa. (In an ironic twist of fate, history is repeating itself once more. The nation of Somalia, situated on the horn of East Africa and Ethiopia's immediate neighbour, is currently experiencing a much similar predicament with a deadly drought of its own, an already complicated  situation made worse by war and strife. As in the mid-1980s drought, millions of migrating people are on the move, fleeing war and violence, in search of food, water, medical treatment and safe refuge elsewhere; countless of lives - children, in particular - are at stake.) Geldof contacted Midge Ure (of Ultravox) and they began approaching other musical artists to record a single, the proceeds of which went to aid those affected by the Ethiopian famine (Geldof promised that no money raised would be lost in administrative costs and that every cent realized from the proceeds of Band Aid would be channeled into the relief fund). The roster of some of the artists who contributed their time and performed, gratis, on the single - written by Geldof, produced and set to music by Ure - included Bono, Adam Clayton (who played bass), Boy George, Simon Le Bon, Paul Young, Sting,  David Bowie, Phil Collins (who played drums), Paul McCartney, and Bob Geldof. A video of Do They Know It's Christmas was released to promote the single, which was sold in 7- and 12-inch versions; a thirty-minute video documenting the making of the hit single was also sold to raise funds. Do They Know It's Christmas  raised $14 million for African famine relief and reportedly became (and remained) the best-selling single ever in the U.K. until Elton John released Candle In The Wind, his 1997 tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.


It is estimated that Live Aid, the concert, raised more than £4 million in the U.K., £5 million in Ireland and nearly a $100 million worldwide. (Sources: songfacts.com, undated; liveaid.free.fr, undated)



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The mid-1980s also found Sade making her foray into film - albeit, for a very brief, cinematic moment. Based on the Colin MacInnes novel about life in late Fifties West End London - circa 1958 - of the same title, Absolute Beginners (1986) is a musical adaptation directed by film-maker Julien Temple about Colin Young (Eddie O'Connell), a nineteen-year-old freelance photographer, who falls in love with a model on-the-rise, the socially ambitious Crepe Suzette (Patsy Kensit), whose relationships are (advantageously) connected with her progress in the world of fashion. Hungry for fame, Suzette shuns the socially-inferior Colin in his poor neighbourhood and chooses, instead, marriage to the rich homosexual Henley, her employer and ''dressmaker to the Queen.''  Hurt by her action and in pursuit of his own success, Colin decides to work for the sinister Vendice Partners (David Bowie), an advertising executive who secretly supports a racist uprising against black people in Notting Hill. Filmed on location in London, England, the film features a small cameo performance by Sade as the sultry Athene Duncannon, a nightclub chanteuse who performs "Killer Blow," a musical number Sade co-wrote for the film. (Sources: cinemaautopsy.com, 2010; James, C., movies.nytimes.com. April 18, 1986) 



Sade as "Athene Duncannon" in Julien Temple's Absolute Beginners (1986)
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(Sade performs as Athene Duncannon in Absolute Beginners ~ 1986)
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After the Promise Tour ended in 1986, Sade took a well-deserved hiatus, regrouping again towards late 1987 to begin work on a new, third album. Stronger Than Pride (1988) was Sade's first album to be entirely produced by the band. Choosing to work once again with production engineer Mike Pela, Stronger Than Pride was recorded in three different studios: Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, Studio Marcadet in Paris, and in Studio Miraval in Provence, Southern France (the same studio where Promise was recorded). The ten tracks were all written by the group with lyrics by Sade. Stronger Than Pride diverged slightly from the jazzy elements of the previous, first two albums, towards a more informal "pop" sound. The album was released in May 1988 with Love Is Stronger Than Pride as its first single in Europe; in the U. S., Paradise was the first single released.


Four videos were released from Stronger Than Pride: Love Is Stronger Than Pride (filmed in California and directed by Sophie Muller), Paradise (filmed in Mexico and directed by Alex McDowell), Nothing Can Come Between Us (directed by Sophie Muller) and Turn My Back On You (filmed in Las Vegas and directed, once more, by Sophie Muller). (Sophie Muller, a close friend and favourite video director of Sade's, with whom she would collaborate and produce several more videos for the band in time to come.) (Source: timeforsade.com, undated)



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The above two videos are courtesy of: SadeVEVO
 

 
Stronger Than Pride was an international success and once more, the band embarked on a new world tour that encompassed fifty-three concert dates and took them across Europe, Australia, Japan and included their first full-scale tour of America. On tour, the only setback was when Stuart Matthewman was arrested after a night of drinking and spent time in an Atlanta, Georgia, jail. The album sold over three-million copies (in the U.S.) and the Stronger Than Pride Tour played to a combined audience of approximately 500,000 Sade fans. After the Stronger Than Pride Tour ended, Sade returned to her private life and continued her relationship with the Spanish film director, Carlos Scola Pliego. They were married on October 11th, 1989, in a castle near Madrid, Spain, where they were living at the time. The marriage did not last and they separated some time later; no children issued from the marriage. (Sources: timeforsade.com, undated; geneall.net, undated)




 
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Recorded at Studio Condulmer (Venice, Italy); Ridge Farm (Surrey, England); The Hit Factory (London, England); and Image Recording (Los Angeles, California), after a four-year gap, Love Deluxe was the group's fourth album and the follow-up to Stronger Than Pride. (Source: cduniverse.com, 2011)


Released in the U.S. on November 26th, 1992, Love Deluxe features nine tracks, including No Ordinary Love, Feel No Pain, Pearls, Cherish The Day and Bulletproof Soul and was the basis for the band's 1993 Love Deluxe Tour. (No Ordinary Love went on to win the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group category.) After the lengthy Love Deluxe Tour, the four members of the band decided to take a hiatus in order to focus on their own lives and individual musical projects. It would be several years before the Sade band members worked together again. During this time, Sade faced two lawsuits involving songs from two previous albums. They also faced lawsuits filed by the band's former drummer, Paul Cooke, and another filed by their former manager, Lee Barrett. (Source: timeforsade.com, undated)


In November 1994, Sony Records released The Best Of Sade, the first Sade compilation album, featuring sixteen of the band's best-loved hits. Although the album did not feature any new material, The Best of Sade was a hugely successful album nonetheless. The Best Of Sade - which sold more than four-million copies in the U.S. alone - was merely a follow-up to an earlier collection. Taking one word from each of the band's multi-platinum album titles for its own, in 1993, a fourteen-video compilation from the previous four called Life Promise Pride Love was released. (Source: timeforsade.com, undated)










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Due to the band’s commercial success, Sade Adu was by this time, in the early 1990s, in that most comfortable - and enviable -  position of working only when she chose to do so. She spent the following, intermediate years focusing on her personal life which found her tumultuous marriage to Carlos Scola Pliego finally come to an end in 1995. Having moved back to England after the termination of her marriage, she saw to the underpinning of her Highbury house to keep it from sinking into the London mud. (On her return to London from Madrid, Sade purchased and refurbished a derelict house in Highbury, an area of the London Borough of Islington; a feature of the remodeled house was a recording studio, built into its basement.) A more serious issue than the house loomed: along with her mother, Anne, she tended to a terminally ill relative, whom she has adamantly refused to identify. “If you've got a sick friend, or someone you love is dying, to say, 'See you later, I'm going into the studio' – I just can't do it,” she says. “It doesn't matter to me enough at that moment.” (Quote: Pareles, J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010)


Having built a studio in the basement of her house, Sade lent her recording studio to two Rastafarian friends, through whom she met Jamaican producer, Bobby Morgan. With Morgan, Sade gave birth to her only child, Ila Morgan, on July 21st, 1996, whose Sanskrit name means “the earth.” Sade also bought a house in Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Ila's birthplace), where she lived with Bobby and their daughter. Six months later, in February of 1997, she made headlines when she was arrested for a driving violation in Montego Bay. (The arresting officer also accused Sade of allegedly trying to run him down.) Sade denied both charges and counter-claimed that the officer had bribed her, attempting to extort money from her, which she refused to pay. After attending several court dates, which were postponed due to the fact that the arresting officer failed to appear in court, Sade missed a fourth court date and a warrant for her arrest was issued and remained in effect until 2002; by which time, Sade had already returned to England.


Prioritising her personal life over her professional career, Sade spent the next several years quietly raising her young daughter. During this time, she had no desire or even the intention of returning to music and has even suggested that, had it not been for the gentle persuasion of the other band members, she may never have recorded another album again. It was not until 1999 that Sade felt ready to resume her musical career. (Sources: timeforsade.com, undated; geneall.net, undated)
 




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Sade reunited again in the fall of 1999, after a lengthy recording intermission that lasted eight years - the time between album releases began to stretch longer and longer - to commence work on their fifth studio album. They got together with Mike Pela and began work at Andrew Hale’s studio, Deliverance, in London. Work on this album, Lovers Rock (2000), was different from previous albums. As a young mother, Sade was no longer in the position of devoting all of her time to recording - her daughter, quite rightly, took precedence - while at the same time, the other members had also grown accustomed to working on their own, embarking on individual projects; times and circumstances had changed and the band was maturing. (Source: timeforsade.com, undated)




 




  




 
The above three videos are courtesy of: SadeVEVO



For Lovers Rock, the group managed to record three sessions at El Cortijo in Spain, before returning to London, so Sade could be near Ila, who, during Sade's absence, was being cared for by Sade’s mother, Anne. Fully determined that her daughter be and remain her first priority, Sade now insisted on shorter periods of time in the recording studio so she could be with her, devoting her time to Ila. She later said it was the hardest work she had ever undertaken. The recording sessions were finally completed at Sarm Hook End Studios in the English countryside. (As Sade explained, the title for the album, Lovers Rock, was due to the soulful reggae style that she and Stuart Matthewman had always used as a basis for their compositions.)


Released in the U. S. and Canada on February 14th (Valentine's Day), 2001 (November 2000 in the U.K.), Lovers Rock, which achieved triple platinum status, included eleven tracks; among them: By Your Side, Flow, King Of Sorrow, Somebody Already Broke My Heart, and Immigrant, a song dedicated to the memory of Adebisi Adu. (The song chronicles the struggles faced by her father as a Black immigrant in 1950s England, and his plight is poignantly compared to that of the Biblical Joseph). Sade provided the lyrics as usual, and they were more personal and autobiographical than ever, touching on everything from the sweetness of love, fidelity, continued hope, the sorrow of loss and betrayal, and racial discrimination. She also included a song about children (The Sweetest Gift), that she dedicated to Ila. Sophie Muller, Sade's favourite director, was called once more to direct two videos from Lovers Rock: By Your Side (filmed in Los Angeles, California) and King Of Sorrow (filmed at the Normandie Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico).
(Source: timeforsade.com, undated)



 
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On October 3rd, 2000, after an eight-year absence from the stage, Sade made her first public appearance at the MOBO Awards in London, where she performed By Your Side, the first single released from the new album. The following month, she performed at a benefit for the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity Millennium Ball, a United Kingdom charity founded in 1986 that provides support to families with children contending with a life threatening or terminal illness. In the U.S., Lovers Rock debuted at #3 selling over 370,000 copies in its first week. Within the span of a month, Lovers Rock was certified double-platinum in the U.S. and sold over a million copies throughout Europe, becoming the fastest-selling Sade album. In April, 2001, Sade announced plans for a Lovers Rock promotional tour - Lovers Live  - that included over thirty dates across North America. Although Sade readily admits to being nervous performing before a live audience, Sade tours have always achieved both critical and commercial acclaim. At the 2002 Grammy Awards ceremony, Lovers Rock realized a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album. Also in 2002, Helen Folasade Adu was made a member of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.). (Sources: timeforsade.com, undated; grammy365.com, 2011)




 
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From the onset of her musical career, songwriting has always been an intensely personal, introverted process that Sade has greatly enjoyed; she has metaphorically likened her work to a message in a bottle thrown out into the sea. The part of the musical process that she does not particularly enjoy is the public exposure and limelight, especially when the promotion of  a newly released album necessitates it. While some artists brand their image and thrive through ubiquity and even over-exposure, Sade does the exact opposite: in 2001, at the conclusion of the Lovers Live Tour, Sade vanished from the scene altogether, although she did contribute a song, Mum, co-written with the Argentine guitarist Juan Janes, to a 2005 benefit DVD, Voices For Darfur, highlighting the atrocities taking place in Sudan.  “I love writing songs,” she readily admitted in a 2010 interview with Jon Pareles of The Scotsman. But then, going beyond that, I find it a little bit difficult, the sort of opening myself up to everything that's attached to it in the music business; the expectations and pressures that are put on to you. Some people love all of the trimmings and everything that comes with that. But I happen to not be one of those people.” (Quote & source: Pareles, J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010)

 

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Early in 2010, in his review of Soldier of Love (Epic Records) for Vanity Fair magazine's popular musical review section of newly-released records, Buy It, Steal It, Skip It, Bill Bradley aptly summed up the group's new album by stating, Sade’s music is timeless, so it doesn’t sound that much different from 1992’s Love Deluxe. But when you’re into sexy, downbeat pop, do you really want change? (Quote: Bradley, B., vanityfair.com, February 8, 2010)

(When asked by a man at a radio station what she had been doing in the ten years between albums, Sade jokingly quipped, “I've been in a cave, and I just rolled the boulder out of it.”)
(Quote & source: Pareles, J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010)

And so it is, ten years after the release of their last album, Lovers Rock, in 2000, Soldier of Love was released in 2010. You can only grow as an artist as long as you allow yourself the time to grow as a person, Sade has said, speaking of their latest album. We're all parents, our lives have all moved on. I couldn't have made Soldier of Love any time before now, and though it's been a long wait for the fans - and I am sorry about that - I'm incredibly proud of it.
(Source & quote: sade.com, 2011)
 

  Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO


In 2008, the call went out for the group to re-convene at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Wiltshire, in the South West English countryside, to work on a new album - the band's sixth. With individual band members living in disparate parts of the globe, bassist Paul Denman flew in from Los Angeles, where he had been managing his teenage son's punk band, Orange; guitarist and saxophone player Stuart Matthewman interrupted his film soundtrack work in New York; and keyboardist Andrew Hale gave up his A&R consultancy in London - all heeded the call. It was the first time that the four key, central members had come together since the Lovers Rock Tour ended in 2001. After nearly a decade apart a big question mark loomed. As Andrew Hale put it: “...did we still want to do this and could we still get along as friends?” If there was any lingering doubt, the answer soon came back in the affirmative.

In a series of fortnightly sessions at Real World Studios, where the band lived for a week or so at a time, Sade sketched out the material for a new album which, they all felt, was probably their most ambitious to date. In particular, the sonic layering and militaristic percussion and sombre strings of the title track, Soldier Of Love, sounded quite different from anything they had previously recorded and hints at Sade's emotions in the "battleground of life;" it was also the most challenging track on the album which took the longest to complete. The band struggled with Soldier Of Love, abandoning it on several occasions but kept returning to it time and again; it was the primary track that initiated work on the new album but also the last to be completed. (As it is the title track of the new album, Soldier Of Love is the opening number of the Sade Live Tour concert.) (Sources & quote: sade.com, 2011; Pareles, J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010)

 
 



The above two videos are courtesy of: SadeVEVO


 
 Video courtesy of:  ~ (Live in Hamburg, Germany)


If you're only making an album every ten years, it better be good,” Sade has said. Co-produced by Mike Pela, the album was completed in the summer of 2009, recorded mainly at Real World Studio. But as soon as Sony Music learned that Sade was working again - she did not want the record company to learn of their work on a new album just yet - they began pressuring  her to release the album before Christmas of 2009. That deadline passed; Sade wanted to re-emerge in a new year - and in a new decade.

The feel of the music for this album - mostly in minor keys - had moved away from the gentle country-soul styling of Lovers Rock, assuming a more eclectic but still pensive identity. At times the band sounds like the original Sade, such as Matthewman's saxophonic delivery on In Another Time. But with songs such as the reggae chant Babyfather (on which Ila Adu, along with Matthewman's son, Clay, sings back-up) and the dramatically arranged album opener The Moon and the Sky, Sade were clearly exploring new territory. “I never want to repeat myself,” Sade herself has said. “And that becomes a more interesting challenge for us the longer we carry on together.” The band finished the last mix of Skin – a song about a reluctant break-up – around 5:00 o'clock in the morning on a day that another band had booked Real World Studios.


For the new album, Sade was, at first, hesitant to appear on its cover. A compromise, however, was reached: a photo with her back turned to the camera, gazing out over some ancient Mayan ruins. “You're not looking at me,” she says. “You're surveying the journey ahead and the history as well.”


Upon its release on February 8th, 2010, Soldier of Love spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard Albums Chart and reached platinum sales status. The album also garnered a Grammy Award (Best R&B Performance) for Soldier of Love, the title track. (Babyfather was also nominated for a Grammy Award.) On May 3rd, 2011, Sade: The Ultimate Collection, a compilation album comprising of a slew of twenty-nine tracks - mostly well-loved favourites - was released. Sade: The Ultimate Collection spans Sade's entire discography and includes four new, never-before-released tracks: Still in Love With You, I Would Never Have Guessed, Love Is Found and a remixed version of The Moon and the Sky featuring Jay-Z. (Sources & quotes: sade.com, 2011; Pareles, J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010)




 
Video courtesy of:




Video courtesy of: andron544



In support of the Soldier Of Love album, Sade commenced their first world tour in ten years. The concert, Sade Live, which opened in Nice, France, on April 29th, and includes North American cities in both Canada and the U.S.A., will conclude in Budapest, Hungary, on November 23rd, 2011. (Sources: sade.com, 2011; kovideo.net, 2011)


For the past six years, Sade has had what she calls a "partner" - Ian Watts. They live in rural Gloucestershire, where they are raising their children: Sade's daughter, Ila, now fifteen, and Watts's son, Jack.  Sade spends most of her time in the West Country, driving occasionally into London. At her Islington house there are sheets over some furniture, and old cassette tapes on the shelves along with photography and art books.
(Source: Pareles, J., thescotsman.com, February 10, 2010)
 
 
 
Image courtesy of: http://muzyka.dziennik.pl
 
 
 
 
 
Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO
 


 
 
Video courtesy of:
 


The above two images are courtesy of: http://www.suite101.de
 
 


 
Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO



Image courtesy of: http://www.iturism.ro




 
Sade Live Tour trailer courtesy of: SadeVEVO


 


Video courtesy of: lyratwo
(All videos included above are courtesy of YouTube)




Image courtesy of: http://keytofitness.com.au




 I only make records when I feel I have something to say. I'm not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand.



 
Sade Live Tour ~ 2011
(Photo by Gabriel Coutu Dumont)
Image courtesy of: http://www.nelsonpants.com/




Discography:

Diamond Life (1984)
Promise (1985)
Stronger Than Pride (1988)
Love Deluxe (1992)
The Best of Sade (1994)
Lovers Rock (2000)
Lovers Live (2002)
Soldier of Love (2010)
Sade: The Ultimate Collection (2011)