Helen Folasade Adu, most commonly known as Sade, was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. Ibadan is located in the Oyo State where many dialects of the Yoruba language are spoken. Her middle name is Yoruban, meaning: “Honor earns a crown” and is a typical name for girls in African and Arabic-speaking countries.
The four years she spent in Ibadan, she was only referred to as Folasade (later Sade for short) because the people in her community wanted to express their respect and pride for the Nigerian culture. Her father, Adebisi Adu, was an economics professor in Nigeria. He met an English nurse named Anne Hayes in London, England. They married in 1955 and moved to Ibadan to start a family. After having their two kids (Banji and Sade), the couple made the decision to separate. Sade and her older brother moved to England with their mother where they spent the rest of their developmental years.
Listen to one of her songs to get a feel for her themes, style, and overall sound here.
The R&B artist is known for delivering musical compilations that are truly pieces of art. Sade is now a musical group, with a bass/guitar player, keyboardist, and saxophonist. Each member collaborates with the songwriting and sound. They are known for their mix of sounds varying from smooth jazz to soul, with inspirations endlessly coming from culture to culture.
Sade has won multiple awards for her work throughout her career, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, Best International Album Outside of Classical and Jazz Music (Soldier of Love), and Best International Song (Soldier of Love).
Nicole Bonilla has been a longtime fan of Sade. She comments on Sade’s style, who her audience is, and the message behind her words:
Q: How long have you been listening to Sade?
A: Since 1984. When I first heard her, it was a fresh sound. Her style is unique.
Q: What makes her stand out?
A: Her sound. It’s smooth and soulful and the lyrics are meaningful. She has a powerful expression that comes through the music.
Q: Who is Sade speaking to through her music?
A: People that experience love in any capacity. Being loved, falling in love, a difficult love, a true love, heartache, struggles, etc.
Q: Do you know much about her private life/childhood?
A: Not much. From seeing her live a few times I know she is British [but] born in Nigeria. She has a family now but she is known to keep a firm boundary with her professional career and private life.
Q: Who would you consider her typical audience to be?
A: Her audience is very diverse. People that appreciate true musicianship and meaningful songwriting.
This interview was edited for readability.