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Sade: 8 Captivating Facts About the Enigmatic Queen of Sensual ’80s Music

There are rumors that she might be releasing new music soon!

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The name Sade instantly conjures up a sensual, sophisticated atmosphere. Born Helen Folasade Adu, the British-Nigerian singer rose to prominence with her 1984 debut album, Diamond Life, which spawned the indelible hit single “Smooth Operator.” Over the course of five more records, she’d continue to have success with gorgeous, romantic songs like “The Sweetest Taboo,” “Paradise,” “No Ordinary Love” and “By Your Side.”

Sade is known for keeping a low profile, and hasn’t released an album since Soldier of Love in 2010. Sade’s enigmatic nature only makes her dreamy music more captivating, and in recent years, she’s been embraced by a younger audience thanks to her relaxing aura and elegant style.

Here are eight things you might not have known about Sade’s life and work.

Sade onstage in 1984
Sade onstage in 1984Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty

1. Sade is actually a band

Many people assume Sade is a solo act, thanks to the fact that she goes by a mononymous name a la Madonna or Cher, but this isn’t actually the case. That’s right, Sade is actually a band composed of the singer-singwriter, bassist Paul Spencer Denman, keyboardist Andrew Hale and guitarist and saxophonist Stuart Matthewman.

Left to right: Sade's bandmates Paul Spencer Denman, Andrew Hale and Stuart Matthewman in 1997
Left to right: Sade’s bandmates Paul Spencer Denman, Andrew Hale and Stuart Matthewman in 1997Raymond Boyd/Getty

While Sade is the undeniable star of the Grammy-winning group, she’s been with the same band since the beginning and they’ve all collaborated on songwriting and perfecting an immediately recognizable sound.

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2. Music wasn’t Sade’s first career choice

Sade originally planned to become a fashion designer, and studied fashion at London’s St. Martin’s School of Art. She also dabbled in modeling. After getting her degree, some of her old friends convinced her to start singing, and despite her shyness, she found that she enjoyed it.

Sade modeling in 1981
Sade modeling in 1981Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty

Sade then joined the funk band Pride, and it was with this first band that she debuted the song “Smooth Operator” during a quiet, jazzy part of their live show.

The song quickly caught the attention of record labels, and they wanted to sign her as a solo act. She ultimately refused to sign with a label unless her Pride bandmates Denman, Hale and Matthewman came with her, and thus the band Sade was born.

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3. Sade achieved an impressive feat with every album

Sade was instantly popular, and ushered in the smooth style that helped define the ’80s, often known as sophisti-pop. The band achieved an impressive accomplishment on the charts, as each one of their albums, including live albums and compilation albums, made it to the coveted top 10 on the Billboard charts, with two of them, Promise (1985) and Soldier of Love (2010) landing at number one.

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Sade performing at Live Aid in 1985
Sade performing at Live Aid in 1985Jacques Langevin/Sygma/Sygma via Getty

4. Sade works at a slow and steady pace

Once a musician gets as big as Sade, they face a good deal of pressure to churn out records at a fast pace, but that’s never been her style. After her 1992 album, Love Deluxe, she took an eight-year hiatus, during which she had a child. In 2000, she made a comeback with Lovers Rock, and then took a ten-year break, after which she released her final album to date, Soldier of Love, in 2010.

While Sade doesn’t give many interviews, she’s said, “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” — a refreshing sentiment in a world of influencers and seemingly endless amounts of content.

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Sade in 1984
Sade in 1984B. Gomer/Express/Getty

5. Sade was in a movie with David Bowie

In 1986, Sade appeared in the ’50s-set movie musical Absolute Beginners. It was her first and only film role. While the movie wasn’t a success, it was noteworthy for starring David Bowie, and his theme song became a UK hit.

Sade in 1985
Sade in 1985Georges De Keerle/Getty

6. Sade has influenced many hip-hop artists

Many musicians have cited Sade as an influence, but the most surprising thing just might be the number of hip-hop stars who’ve called her their favorite. The mellowness of her music may initially seem at odds with the genre, but rappers like Mos Def, Drake, Raekwon, Missy Elliott, Rakim and Kanye West have all cited her as an inspiration.

Sade with rapper Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC in 2000
Sade with rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC in 2000Dave Hogan/Getty

7. Sade’s last two songs were written for 2018 movies

While Sade will forever be thought of as a woman of mystery, she hasn’t completely vanished. In 2018, she contributed an original new song, “Flower of the Universe,” to the family sci-fi film A Wrinkle in Time. That same year, she contributed another original new song, “The Big Unknown” to the thriller Widows.

Sade in 2010
Sade in 2010Kevin Mazur/Child/WireImage/Getty

8. There might be new Sade music on the horizon

While we haven’t yet gotten an official announcement, Sade may be working on their first album in 14 years. In a 2022 Billboard article about a French recording studio, one of the owners revealed Sade and her bandmates had recently come in to record new material. We hope we’ll be hearing it soon!

Sade onstage in 2011
Sade onstage in 2011Srdjan Stevanovic/WireImage/Getty
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