DAR Legends: Sade

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-It's very rare to find an artist that can combine elegance, beauty, grace, and style alongside raw talent, musical sensibility, and undeniable vocals. There are some artists who capture your ear from the moment you hear them, and for me, Sade Adu was one of them. Backed by her amazing band (the band itself is named Sade, while Sade Adu is the lead singer), Sade would arrive in music in 1984, taking the world by storm with her smooth, soothing yet engaging voice and jazzy style. She began her ascension to music through a brief career stop as a model and fashion designer before joining the band Pride as a backup singer. Labels gave her some attention, and eventually she would form her own band and sign with the multi million dollar label, Epic Records. The label, which was home to the biggest artist at the time, Michael Jackson, now had a future star in their fold, and Sade was unlike anything we had seen before.

We had been blessed by British vocalists before in the past, but she was different. Her voice, her style, and everything in between instantly made her an interesting personality, and as she prepared her debut album with the band, no one could have possibly expected her to rise to the top right away. However, her debut album Diamond Life would begin a career that is now 33 years old, and one of the most prolific in music history. Today, we take a moment to reflect on her contributions to music, culture, and the world over. Sade is one of the most influential and important women in the history of music, and it's our pleasure at DAR Legends to honor her with this look at her career. Let's get into it.

There aren’t many female vocalists who started out almost 35 years ago and have maintained their distinct vocals, continued to grow their fanbase and can take a decade off from creating albums, come back stronger and STILL maintain relevancy. In fact, only one name comes to mind when I consider these and that is none other than Sade. She emerged back in the early 80’s as part of an eight member band, as Sade and various band members would use the gigs to open for the band which would in turn attract the attention of record labels. Before she knew it, herself and 3 bandmates would sign with Epic Records under the name “Sade”, and that would be an introduction in a way to jazz soul/neo-soul back in the mid-eighties. 

Her first album titled “Diamond Life”, was released in 1984 and what put her on the map was the track “Smooth Operator”. This is where she gained a solid fanbase, wowing listeners with her raspy, soft, smooth, and balanced vocals. She maintained her calmness and infused that into each one of her albums throughout the years of studio releases. Personally, for me, I liked Sade when I heard “Smooth Operator”. I remember it was always on the radio and it didn’t take long before her voice was instantly recognizable to me. She was the perfect opposite voice to all the hip hop/rap I listened to as a kid. Every time Sade put out an album, it hit the radio stations and once again we were in awe of her sound and her love infused lyrics. She pulled on the heart strings and truly made her audience feel her words. Few can achieve this quite like she did.  

1992 was when Sade really hit the mainstream heavily to a slightly different generation (although her previous singles “The Sweetest Taboo” “Smooth Operator” and “Paradise” were chart toppers), as she released the album “Love Deluxe” which was a very short, 9 track album filled with amazing ballads. All the tracks were incredible, however “No Ordinary Love” would take on a different level of popularity. It was featured in the movie “Indecent Proposal” and covered by other artists over 15 times. This would become her (2nd) best known work, next to "Smooth Operator", and a signature of Sade. 1992 was the last release we’d see for a while.  It wasn’t until 1995 that Sade started experiencing some challenges in her personal life and relationships. With a marriage that was falling apart and a couple of short term relationships that started and ended, Sade took a long hiatus from music but she came back better than ever. 

Her 2000 release of “Lovers Rock” (which is my favorite album in her catalog) had everything we knew we could expect from Sade. The songs had more depth, the emotion was profound and her challenges, pain and experiences were sung like a melodious diary. It was enough to spark a buzz in the music industry, break records AND keep Sade on the charts for many weeks. Again, the formula worked as always: keep the track list short, concise and to the point and you’ll have a masterpiece. She did just that. This is an album I can listen to from beginning to end, repeatedly. 

Sade’s run would go on for one more studio release in 2010 and a few compilation albums and a couple tours. She would be one of the few artists that managed to bounce back stronger regardless of how long she was absent from the spotlight and industry. She’s accumulated many honors and accolades over the years and remains the face of soul. She’s proven that her poise, voice, lyrics and perseverance never wavered over the course of her 33 (going on 34) years in the industry. Although we haven’t gotten any new projects, tours or compilations from Sade in almost a decade, she is still a powerhouse and a living legend. 

I first saw Sade's "Smooth Operator" video via Midnight Love on BET and I thought "wow this woman is beautiful". I didn't really start to appreciate her until I came into my teens and actually sat with her music which is beautiful in itself. This may sound a little off to some but when I listen to Sade, there's a certain vibe and vision I get. It makes me feel like I'm in a alternate reality, a different dimension or realm of pure bliss and I get visions of this place that's dimly lit with beautiful colors and scenery where no evil exists and time is endless. Yes, I know it sounds wild, but that's what Sade's music carries my mind to. One of her songs that does this and probably my favorite of hers is "By Your Side". "No Ordinary Love" and "Cherish The Day" also put me in this mind state.

She's honestly like a goddess to me, I cant even sexualize her honestly. To put it in raw terms, I feel like if she was in front of me naked, I wouldn't feel worthy to touch her. Yes, this sounds crazy, but it's just how I feel. She is one of those artists that has that mystique about her where she doesn't have to be in the public eye with a gimmick or drama, she just surfaces with great material then vanishes. The way she uses her distinctive multi octave voice is brilliant. She's able to control her range and tone with a smooth ambience making the listeners feel the emotion of the lyrics she's singing. Like on "Your Love Is King", the way she comes in deep and sultry is gripping. Another favorite of mine is "The Sweetest Taboo", as it has that classic 80s feel and sound. I loved her version of "Why Can't We Live Together" as well. No matter what subject she's singing about, her voice brings me peace.

You would think as an artist ages their music quality would decline, but with Sade that's not the case. Her last album Soldier of Love stood up to the standards of her catalog. I loved "Babyfather" and "Soldier of Love". With over 75 million records sold worldwide, a plethora of sold out tours and a ton of classic music that has aged well just like her beauty wrapped in a 34 year career,  Sade is a living legend and definitely one of a kind.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, Sade is my favorite female singer/artist of all time. I was always a fan since a kid, mainly because she was one of the first female artists I had listened to and heard. I was very young when I first heard "Is It A Crime", which was the first song I heard from her, but the sound drew me in right away. The build up, the horns, the vocals, it just all flowed so well that it made me a fan instantly, and as the years went by, I became more and more familiar with her music. When I went back to get familiar with Diamond Life, I was blown away. At the time, I had not heard much of it, and I had never listened to the entire album all the way through, but that changed on that day. From the production and the incredible work of the band to her vocal strength as always, Diamond Life became and still is one of my all time favorite albums. I think it's Sade at her best and most raw, which is usually the case on most debut albums. She coasts over the rhythms of "Smooth Operator", "Hang On To Your Love", "Frankie's First Affair", "Sally", and my personal favorite "Your Love Is King", all of which are highlights on this album.

Her following albums after her debut were also just as special, which is a rarity for an artist. There's no such thing as a bad Sade album. Her second album, Promise, is just about as good as her debut and went 5X platinum, making Sade an even bigger sensation than she was on her first album (her debut sold more, but her star power rose with the success of this project). There were hits on this album of course, as the aforementioned classic "Is It A Crime" is a part of this album, but she has two more favorites of mine on this project in "The Sweetest Taboo" and "Jezebel". This album wasn't just a rehash of her debut, and I loved that about it. Tracks like "Tar Baby" and "Maureen" helped to separate her style between the first two albums and really helped to round out a truly special sophomore album from the lovely vocalist and her band.

After a small 3 year hiatus, Sade returned in 1988 with the third album Stronger Than Pride, and this album has a different sound and vibe from her first two as well. Stronger Than Pride is a bit more atmospheric in sound, and slightly less jazzy, but the end result is still special. With the massive title track "Love Is Stronger Than Pride" being a driving force of the project, Sade moves gracefully from song to song, crafting gems like "Paradise", "Keep Looking", "Give It Up", and my personal favorite "Nothing Can Come Between Us". The execution of this album was just as flawless as the first two projects, and with 4 million copies sold, this album is of course another success for the band and the beautiful singer. Sade would take yet another small hiatus following the release of Stronger Than Pride, preparing for their next release and taking some time to creatively recharge. This time off would prove to be vital, as the band and the vocalist would go back into the studio in 1991/1992 feeling focused and they would end up crafting what many feel is her best album and one of the greatest musical works of all time.

In 1992, Sade would release what some deemed a comeback album with Love Deluxe. Love Deluxe wasn't a comeback album, it was merely the evolution of the Sade experience and career. Backed by some of the best production she's had, Sade crafted some of her greatest songs ever. From the infectious legendary hit "No Ordinary Love" to the majestic sound of "Cherish The Day", all the way to one of my favorites "Kiss of Life", it seemed as if she could do no wrong on this album. Her fourth album is as flawless as a project can get, and I think you could flip a coin between this album and her debut, and whichever side the coin lands on is her best work. In addition to those aforementioned powerhouse songs, Sade also blessed us our ears with more classics like "Feel No Pain", "Pearls", "Bulletproof Soul", and "I Couldn't Love You More". Every song on this album is special in its own right, and Love Deluxe is certainly one of her greatest works, if not her greatest.

While her last two albums were spaced out over an 18 year period with an 8 year hiatus and a 10 year hiatus in between each, every time we heard new Sade music, we paid attention. Those two albums, the 2000 release Lovers Rock and the 2010 release Soldier of Love would both be successful and spawn hits like "By Your Side", and "Baby Mother". Sade racked up more plaques for both and embarked on supporting tours for each album, but in recent years, her legacy is rooted in her mystique and how seldom she is seen or releasing music. One has to assume, since it's been almost 8 years since her last project that there may be another album on the horizon soon. We usually never see her returns coming, so maybe, just maybe 2018 will see Sade add another piece to her already amazing legacy. Only time will tell, but make no mistake, new album or not, Sade is solidified, and she will always be a legend.



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