Friday, 5 August 2011

Strong & Tender: The Musical Career of Sade





Helen Folasade Adu
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“ ...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. 



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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)



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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)


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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)



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



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
 



 




 
The above two videos are courtesy of: SadeVEVO



 
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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)




 
Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO



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)










The two videos above are courtesy of: SadeVEVO

 

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)
 




Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO






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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Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO



Image courtesy of: http://userserve-ak.last.fm



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)

 

Video courtesy of: SadeVEVO
 


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Image courtesy of: http://muzyka.dziennik.pl


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)




 
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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
 
 
 
 
 
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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)





16 comments:

  1. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)29 October 2011 at 18:27

    Great article! Amazing story! She's lovely and all that was written there, serious but cute at the same time! Her magnetism is unbelievable! I felt blessed when I saw them, and I'll be hoping for the next time! Music is serious, divine...so is Sade

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Nicole:

    You're so right, Sade's magnetism, even after 25 years in the music industry, is unbelievably powerful. I was also fortunate enough to have had the chance of seeing them live in concert when they came to Toronto this past June & I had a thoroughly enjoyable time; besides Cesária Évora, they are the only band I'd pay to see in concert - and, without exaggeration, the show was worth every penny.

    I love the fact that they disappear for several years & return only when they have something new & relevant to say. And that's what most celebrities nowadays don't seem to understand: it's better to excel at one thing & become great at it as opposed to dabbling in ten different things and being mediocre at them - at best. I respect Sade for not having a perfume line; a cosmetics line; a clothing line; a home line; a movie; a modelling contract; et cetera (you get the idea). Best of all, the music speaks for itself - timeless! And all their albums can still be listened to & be as relevant now as they were when first released. Absolutely timeless!!

    I appreciate your comment. ₵. Ð.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)29 October 2011 at 21:21

    Oh, hey ₵. Ð!

    Well, this year I saw very truly talented people. Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Janelle Monáe, Stevie Wonder, Sade and Chaka Khan... differents eras and styles but the same respect to the music. I really appreciate that. Sade was something magical. I never saw her in a big production like this. It must become a dvd or something, she was very happy and pleasant to be here. She wasn't shy believe it or not! That was the note around this tour. She made toke some risks at the stage that we don't usually see and the people get crazy lol! I was one of them, I spent 2h screaming like a crazy for her. She's pretty, sounds like an angel and seems to be a good person too. I get close of the majority singers that I mentioned, all of them were very polite and made me think that they deserve the sucess they have, and Sade is for sure in this circle even that I only saw her at the concert. It was a big one and my last view of her was the runnig she made off the stage lmao! I don't blame who wants to live this "pop" life. Anyone can do whatever they want with their lives. If I was on them place I wouldn't enjoy it. But we have tastes to everything. I'm the kind of person who believes in things that must have a big value, a big sense. Poor of these who can't see this. We can, and we share with those who believes in the same idea. Chaka was the most phenomenal singer I ever saw, that woman can do whatever she wants with her voice, and she's nice too, another one who didn't want to leave the stage. Sade was like I said, magical, unforgettable and respectfull. I'm very proud to have had the chance to met them and their music. And more happier either to think that they still do it. I can't live without this!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nicole - I, too, hope that the "Sade Live" concert is put out as a compact disc at some point in time - it'd be great to re-live that night once more (the opening number & her entrance onto the stage is the highlight of my memory - one of many in a great performance). It was brilliant!

    But you're indeed fortunate enough to have seen all these different artists - all in the span of one year.

    Best,
    ₵. Ð.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)29 October 2011 at 21:50

    I believe it's gonna be a blu-ray. That stage is expensive man! ahahahahahaha!
    Are you on facebook on something like this?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nicole:

    Yes, of course, Blu-Ray... I should've known cd's are probably obsolete by now.

    Absolutely not! ~ to the dismay of my friends, here & abroad, I refuse to have anything to do with facebook or any other form of social networking (I'm old-fashioned, you see - after all, I still watch cd's!).

    ₵. Ð.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)29 October 2011 at 22:33

    Ok, that's no problem with me about it, I respect that. I just asked you 'cause there are so many things about Sade's show in Rio that I toke... I though that maybe you would like to see it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello again, Nicole:

    Thank you for the kind offer - it's very thoughtful of you. Yes, indeed, I would very much like to view your pictures. If it's not too much trouble, would you mind sending them as attachments to my e-mail (provided above)?

    Looking forward to seeing them. ₵. Ð.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)29 October 2011 at 22:45

    Well, I can do better! You can watch a Youtube Channel of a guy that went to almost the same shows I did. His videos are in HD, enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/user/djwagneroliveira

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)29 October 2011 at 22:58

    Latter could you tell me what you thought of these videos?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful & wonderfully clear [HD].

    From the dates of the videos, I take it that Sade was in Rio only about a week ago.

    Thank you for sharing, Nicole. ₵. Ð.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nicole D. (Rio de Janeiro)30 October 2011 at 19:45

    Yep! She was here at October 22 and I had a great night with my friend after that. Her energy last for all that night I think. She made 3 concerts here, in 3 cities, but it was the one from Rio that toke all the attention. I'm carioca (person who's born in Rio) and I'm very used to it. But it was great to know that she always want to be here. She told that it was her dream since she was a child to meet Iceland and Brazil, especially Rio because when she was born an astrologyst told that all the stars that pointed her way on Earth were located in Brazil's sky. And about the videos, ahahahahhaa we brazilians are the best on it. You'll always have great takes when you have a brazilian at the show!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Just want to say your article is astounding. The clarity in your post is simply spectacular

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    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Ms. David:

    Thank you kindly for your comment; I'm pleased to hear that you enjoyed the article.

    Generally speaking, I'm none too keen on popular music. But as you may have surmised, (the exceptional) Sade is one of the few exceptions to the rule & is one of my favourite musical artists; I have great respect for her music & musical career.

    Wishing you well.

    Now & always,
    ₵. Ð.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I felt compelled to post here to say that this is the MOST COMPREHENSIVE and factually formative article on Sade in existence. I have always been her biggest fan so learning all I can about this exquisite singer/songwriter has been a constant journey through my life. I learned more and have finally gotten answers to questions I've always wondered about Sade in this one article. Your sources are amazing and I can't even imagine how you gained access to some of the small but important details about her life and journey through the years. I'm sad to say that the timeforsade.com website does not exist anymore but I personally want to thank you for writing this article. Instead of a blog, you should have it posted on a dedicated SADE website so others can find this information more easily than I did. Thanks again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mr. White:

      Thank you for the very kind words of your message.

      Apparently, we seem to share a common love & admiration for Sade Adu. By far she is one of my all-time favourite popular singers (though I'm not sure if she can be categorized in that genre; each album & their overall musical output is beyond the simple categorization of 'pop' music); as with so many, my first introduction being "Smooth Operator" (who knew Jazz could be so beguiling, so sultry? And if truth be known, Sade, in a round-about way, was also my introduction - my gateway - to the wonderful world of Jazz & the great Jazz chanteuses) & I've been a convert ever since. Thirty-two years on, I can still listen to the entire "Diamond Life" album - as I can with any of their other albums issued since - with undiluted pleasure; it's timeless & few can make that claim, if at all. There's absolutely no substitute for real quality; it's able to withstand the test of time.

      I've had the pleasure of attending two of their concerts over the years (as doubtless you have as well); Sade is just about the only living singer I would pay to see live (the other being [the late] Cesária Évora, whom I've also seen). Everything about Sade is unique & easily out-classes every other pop musical star. I'm not even sure if there's anyone who writes more beautiful or more haunting love songs. Their lyrics alone are justifiably exquisite & beyond compare, if nothing else.

      That all said, know that I'm very glad you've enjoyed it.

      With warmest regard, from one Sade fan to another,
      ₵. Ð.

      Delete