Sade Biography: Life and Career of the Smooth Jazz Singer

Born January 16th, 1959 in Ibadan, Nigeria, Sade grew up in England with her mother. She was asked to join a friend's band and soon caught the attention of record labels with the song "Smooth Operator". Thanks to her smooth voice, exotic beauty and the band's soulful sound, she quickly found chart popularity. Despite winning awards and embarking on successful tours, she has been able to keep an aura of mystery around herself and this has added to her worldwide appeal. In this video, video, we take a look at the life and career of Sade.

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Musical Exposure in England

Helen Folasade Adu was born on January 16th, 1959 in Ibadan, Nigeria. After her parents separated when she was four, her mother took the family to England. It was there that Sade was first exposed to American soul music.


While studying fashion design at college, she was asked to sing in a friends’ band. This led her to join a group called Pride, and with them she toured the UK for several years during the early 1980s.

“Smooth Operator”

Sade was soon singled out by record companies. They were especially captivated by her performance of a song she had co-written, entitled “Smooth Operator.” However, the labels were not interested in the rest of Pride. Sade ultimately signed with Epic Records and took bassist Paul Denman, keyboard player Andrew Hale and saxophonist Stuart Matthewman with her.

Successful Debut

Sade and her band released their debut Diamond Life in the UK in 1984. The smooth soul effort reached the second position on the UK albums chart and spawned the top-ten hit “Your Love is King.” Following a UK tour, the group released the album in the U.S. in 1985 and this gave them their first top ten U.S. hit with “Smooth Operator.” That same year, Sade appeared at Live Aid at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Second Album

These successes, along with her exotic looks and sophisticated sense of style, were turning the front-woman into a star. Up next was the group’s sophomore album, Promise. The R&B and soul record topped both the U.S. and UK charts. It also generated the top ten U.S. hit “The Sweetest Taboo” and was promoted by a world tour. In 1986, Sade was recognized with a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Top Ten Success

1988 saw the release of Stronger than Pride. The successful album yielded the top twenty U.S. single “Paradise” and was supported by another tour around the globe. Sade and her band continued their top ten success with 1992’s Love Deluxe. That disc featured the top thirty U.S. single “No Ordinary Love,” which later won the group another Grammy.

Greatest Hits

Next, Sade contributed the Percy Mayfield cover “Please Send Me Someone to Love” to the soundtrack of the movie “Philadelphia.” They embarked on the “Love Deluxe” tour and released the greatest hits compilation The Best of Sade in 1994.

Life Outside Sade

The members of Sade then decided to focus on their personal lives and projects outside the band for the next few years. The mid-‘90s saw the end of Sade’s marriage to Spanish filmmaker Carlos Pliego and the birth of her daughter. Meanwhile, Denman, Hale and Matthewman released an album as the jazz funk band Sweetback.


Following a performance at the MOBO Awards in 2000, Sade dropped Lovers Rock. Though the CD only peaked within the top twenty in the UK, it reached number three in the States. After a sold-out tour, Sade came out with the CD/DVD Lovers Live in 2002. That same year, Lovers Rock was awarded a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Personal Life

Though the singer was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, things were quiet for her and the band on the musical front during the next few years. Instead, Sade concentrated on raising her daughter and moved from North London to Gloucestershire.

“Soldier of Love”

The band got back together to start recording their sixth album at the end of the decade. Released in 2010, Soldier of Love mixed elements of pop, soft rock, R&B and jazz. It topped the U.S. chart and peaked within the top five in the UK. The mostly positively-reviewed disc also produced the Grammy-winning title track.

Another Greatest Hits

That same year, Sade appeared on the American reality show “Dancing with the Stars.” In 2011, the band began the “Sade Live” world tour and came out The Ultimate Collection. This greatest hits compilation contained two new songs, including “Love is Found.”

Lasting Success

With her soulful vocals, smooth jazz sound and reserved but classy image, it is no wonder that Sade is the most successful solo female artist in the history of British music.

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