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Real Name: Helen Folasade Adu

Birthday: January 16, 1959

Record label: Sony

Biggest Single: The Sweetest Taboo

Biggest CD: Promise

Biography: Sade didn't set out to be a role model. And yet by always being

true to herself, and never once compromising either her principals, or her

music, she is one of the most potent musical icons of our generation.When

she emerged in the mid 80s, seemingly out of nowhere, beautiful and exotic,

playing soul music with a hint of jazz, she was the icon of cool. But as time

went by, and she took ever greater control of the multifarious aspects of

record production - writing and producing - Sade was recast as an icon of

womanhood.Naturally it was all too much for her detractors who just

couldn't get their heads around someone looking so good being so gifted,

determined and adroit; Sade didn't fit into the established scheme of things

where female artists were eye candy in a male driven industry. But to her

millions of fans around the world, and the countless singers and musicians

who offer Sade their thanks, she is a constant source of inspiration.

however, ironically Sade Adu is both an icon, and an iconoclast. She is the

myth, the enigmatic diva who has presided over 30 million albums sales. Who

cherishes her private life more anything else and prefers the company of

old friends to the glitterati lifestyle. But she is also the myth breaker who

has dismantled many of the old music business ways, taking the power of

creative control away from the men in suits and putting it where it belongs,

with the musicians themselves.For example, one of the dozens of commonly

held misconceptions about Sade is that each new album is in some way a

comeback, as though the lady were reemerging from retirement. Of course,

if you wanted to be charitable the sheer length of time between Sade  

albums could provide grounds for such a misconception; four years from

'stronger than pride' to 'love deluxe', and eight between that multi-platinum

album and 'lovers rock'.The real reason is of course very different. Sade

has quite simply rewritten the music industry rule book. Her albums  

aren't products that come around with punctuality of trains, they are

individual pieces of work that require both a purpose and a reason. And if

those creative forces don't dovetail snugly into the established music

business format, so be it.The fashion stylist of minimum fuss for maximum

effect applies that same principal to her music; if you have nothing to say,

don't say it!Helen Folasade Adu was born in Nigeria, on January 16, 1959.  

Her parents bisi Adu and Anne Hayes, met in London when her father was

studying at the London school of economics. The couple moved to west

Africa when bisi was offered the post of university professor. Later, when

the marriage ran into difficulties, Anne returned to England, taking four

year old Sade, and her older brother banji, to live with her parents. By the

early 70s, living on the essex coast, Sade had learnt to ride and kept a

horse, that she paid for with a succession of Saturday jobs. She read a

good deal, developed an interest in fashion, and acquired a taste soul music

at discos at nearby American air force bases, and at local clubs in ilford

and on canvey island.She told UK journalist Robert Sandall about seeing

the Jackson five on stage in London: "I was more fascinated by the audience

than by anything that was going on the stage," she said. "They'd attracted

kids, mothers with children, old people, white, black. I was really moved."

she sees the same social mix at her own concerts now. "And that's the best

thing we've achieved."In 1977 Sade arrived in London for a three year

course in fashion design at st. martin's school of art. graduating she set

up a small fashion company, making men's' clothes, with a friend, gioia

mellor, who still designs many of Sade's stage outfits to this day.It's matter

of record she was living above a disused fire station in north London, with a

large record collection and cat called cylinders, when lee barrett,  

who was to subsequently become her manager, famously asked her if she

could sing? She found that she could, but what she enjoyed more was the

process of song writing, and in many ways this is what sustained during the

early years, living hand to mouth out the back of tour bus, when the only

thing that threatened to hold her back was a bad case of the nerves.As her

song writing matured, progressed and shifted away from the jazzy soul of

'diamond life' so her production skills also grew from strength to

strength. She could claim some production credits on 'promise' but by

'stronger than pride' she and the band were a fully functioning autonomous

unit with a firm grip on every aspect of the recording process.Perhaps the

most confounding thing about Sade, the one aspect of her character that

so annoyed the British media in the early years, was her determination to

maintain a private life. For those who cared to listen she felt there is

enough of her, and her life, in her songs. Of course, it wasn't enough and

the rumour machine swung into action.For the record she married a Spanish

film maker in 1989. they parted company some years ago and she now lives in

London, in a large, uncluttered Victorian house, that she renovated with

her brother. She has an old Mercedes that she likes to drive fast ("she

turns into an immature man behind the wheel" says friend and video director

sophie muller), and she has been trying to quit smoking for as long as

anyone can remember. And she still stays up very late most nights, a habit

that is proving to be quite tiring with a beautiful three year old daughter to

attend to.You might think that the modern media - television, video internet -

would provide the perfect tools for Sade to promote her music across the

globe without ever having to leave her door. But that's forgetting the

three she spent on the road before she signed a recording contract. Sade

Adu and the Sade band are first and foremost a live act, and that's where

her heart remains.