Helen Folasade Adu CBE (born January 16, 1959), known professionally as Sade Adu or simply Sade is a Nigerian-British singer, songwriter, and actress, known as the lead singer of her eponymous band.
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, but brought up in Essex, England, Sade gained modest recognition as a fashion designer and part-time model, prior to joining the band Pride in the early 1980s. After gaining attention as a performer, she formed the band Sade, and secured a recording contract with Epic Records in 1983. The band then released the album Diamond Life a year later, which became one of the best-selling albums of the era, and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist. It also gained widespread critical acclaim and is included in the reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In July 1985, Sade was among the performers at the Live Aid charity concert at Wembley Stadium. In late 1985, they released Promise, which was also a resounding critical and commercial success, topping the UK Albums Chart and becoming the band’s first album to debut atop the Billboard 200. It later earned quadruple platinum certification in the U.S., and reached platinum across Europe. It also earned the group the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1986. Their following two releases, 1988’s Stronger Than Pride and 1992’s Love Deluxe, were also critically and commercially successful; however, the band would go on hiatus after the birth of Sade’s child, while the singer experienced widespread media coverage during the period for unsubstantiated claims of mental health and addiction issues.
After a spell of eight years without an album, which came after Sade appeared in the film Absolute Beginners (1986), the band reunited in 1999, and released Lovers Rock in 2000. The album departed from the jazz-inspired inflections of their previous work, featuring mellower sounds and pop compositions, and was critically praised, earning the group the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. The band would then undergo another term of hiatus, not producing music for another ten years until the release of Soldier of Love. The album was another commercial success, although critical reception remained divided, but won the group the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Following the album’s release, the band entered a third period of hiatus, and have only released two new songs (2018’s “Flower of the Universe” for the soundtrack of Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time and “The Big Unknown”, part of the soundtrack for Steve McQueen’s film Widows) to date.
Sade is widely considered a musical influence, and her contributions to music have made her a global figure in popular culture for over two decades. She has been credited as one of the most successful British female artists in history. Her services to music were also recognised with an award of the Officer of the Order of the British Empire chivalry honour in 2002, and later the rank of the Commander of the same order in 2017.