Helen Folasade Adu (born January 16, 1959), better known as Sade, is a Nigerian born Grammy Award-winning English soul, jazz, R&B, and adult contemporary singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer, noted for her soulful, smoky contralto. She has achieved success in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s as the frontwoman and lead vocalist of the popular Grammy Award-winning English group Sade.
Sade was born in Ibadan, Ọyọ State, Nigeria. Her parents, Bisi Adu, a Nigerian lecturer in economics of Yoruba background, and Anne Hayes, an English nurse, met in London and moved to west Africa. Later, when the marriage ran into difficulties, Anne returned to Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, England, taking four-year-old Sade and her older brother Banji to live with her parents. Living in Colchester, Essex, Sade read a good deal, developed an interest in fashion, acquired a taste for dancing and with pleasure listened to soul artists like Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye.
In 1977 Sade arrived in London for a three-year course in fashion design at St. Martin's College. On graduating, she set up a small fashion company, making mens' clothes, in London's Chalk Farm, with a friend, Gioia Mellor. She also found work as a photographic model.
Her first foray into the music business came about this time, as a member of a Latin-soul group named Arriva. It was as a member of Arriva that she first performed the song "Smooth Operator," which would eventually become her first US hit. Shortly thereafter, she joined the band Pride, which included guitarist Stuart Matthewman, bassist Paul Denman, and drummer Paul Anthony Cook. These four formed a splinter group named Sade and began to write their own material. Keyboardist Andrew Hale joined the band as a keyboard player in mid-1983, and in 1983 she signed a solo deal with Epic Records and sister imprint Portrait Records for the US and Canada. All of the Sade albums are Sony Music releases.
In 1985 Sade appeared in the film Absolute Beginners, directed by Julian Temple. She played singer Athene Duncannon, performing "Killer Blow," co-written by her with Simon Booth of soul/jazz band Working Week.
In 1986 Sade moved to Madrid, Spain. On 11 October 1989, in the old castle Vinuelas in Madrid, Sade married Carlos Scola, a Spanish film-maker. However, the marriage was short-lived, and afterwards Sade returned to London. In the mid-90s Sade moved to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where she lived with Bob Moragean, a Jamaican producer. On 21 July 1996 she gave birth to her daughter Ila.
In 1997 Sade was cited for dangerous driving and disobeying a police officer in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Later a Jamaican court issued an arrest warrant for Sade after she failed to appear in court to face charges, but medical proof of her daughter's hospitalization allowed the arrest warrant to be stayed. In 2005, Sade recorded a new track, "Mum," which she performed at the Voices For Darfur charity concert on 8 December 2004 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, to raise awareness and funding for the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.
Part of Sade's backup band continued the Sade style and are now known as Sweetback.