Helen Folasade Adu, (born 16 January 1959), known professionally as Sade Adu or simply Sade is a Nigerian-born British singer-songwriter, composer, arranger and record producer. With members Paul S. Denman, Andrew Hale and Stuart Matthewman, she gained worldwide fame as the lead vocalist of the English band Sade.
Helen Folasade Adu was born on 16 January 1959 in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Her middle name, Folasade, means “honour confers a crown”. Her parents, Adebisi Adu, a Nigerian lecturer in economics of Yoruba background, and Anne Hayes, an English district nurse, met in London, married in 1955 and moved to Nigeria. Her parents separated, however, and Anne Hayes returned to England, taking four-year-old Sade and older brother Banji with her to live with their grandparents near Colchester, Essex. When Sade was 11 years old, she moved to Holland-on-Sea, Essex, to live with her mother. After completing her education at Clacton County High School at age 18 she moved to London and studied fashion design at Saint Martin’s School of Art.
Following a brief stint as a fashion designer of men’s clothing and part-time model, Sade began backup singing for the band Pride in the early 1980s. Growing attention from record labels led her, along with other fellow band members, to separate from Pride and form the band Sade. Following a record deal with Epic Records the band released their debut album Diamond Life (1984). The album sold over six million copies, becoming one of the top-selling debut recordings of the 1980s, and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist.
Following the release of the band’s debut album, they went on to release a string of multi-platinum selling albums. Their follow-up Promise was released in 1985 and peaked at number-one in the UK Albums Chart, the US Billboard 200, and went on to sell four million copies in the US. Sade would later go on to make her acting debut in the British film, Absolute Beginners (1986), before the release of the band’s albums, Stronger Than Pride (1988) and Love Deluxe (1992). After the release of the fifth album, Lovers Rock (2000), the band embarked on a ten-year hiatus in which Sade raised her daughter. Following the hiatus, the band returned with their sixth album, Soldier of Love (2010) which became a commercial success and won a Grammy Award.
Sade’s US certified sales stand at 23.5 million units (as of 2015) according to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) website, and the band has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.
The band was ranked at number 50 on VH1’s list of the “100 greatest artists of all time”. In 2010, The Sunday Times described her as the most successful solo British female artist in history. In 2012, Sade was listed at number 30 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Women In Music”.