Je Ne Sais Quoi: Sade

sade10SADE and I are friends. I’ve known her for 20 years. We’ve shared sadness, heartbreak and shed a few tears together. In fact, freshman year college, I fell asleep to the soothing sounds of SADE’S voice every single night for three months.

Of course SADE and I are not personal intimates and it must be incredibly jarring for celebrities when people like me claim to know them. The truth is we don’t know them at all, do we? But in my mind, SADE and I go way back and, without her knowing, she helped me through those awkward teen years. I was obsessed with her album Promise and its combination of smooth jazz, R + B and funk.

Born in Nigeria, HELEN FOLASADE ADU was raised outside London and after attending the prestigious Central Saint Martins art + design college, she actually had dreams of becoming a fashion designer. She even launched a menswear line and modeled for a while before joining British soul band Pride. After years of success and refusing to leave Pride for a solo career, in 1984, SADE recorded Diamond Life and became a worldwide phenomenon and one of Britain’s most successful artists.

sade14The self-confessed tomboy continues to inspire fashion designers around the world with her trademark style. In fact, SADE’S three distinct personal style elements — her glamorous braided ponytail, her bright red lips and her oversized gold hoop earrings were the inspiration for Olivier Rousteing’s Spring 2013 collection at Balmain.

sade6SADE says that the artists that most influenced her work were Donny Hathaway, Gil Scott Heron, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

sade7Although not as popular in Great Britain as she is in America, SADE has released four platinum-selling albums, won three Grammys and sold over 50 million records.

sade22Because SADE is very private and leads a rather reclusive lifestyle outside London, her friends have nicknamed her Howie, after Howard Hughes, one of the world’s most notoriously famous recluse.

sade21In 2002, Queen Elizabeth awarded SADE with the title Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her contributions to music in Great Britain.

sade17SADE seldoms grants interviews and never seeks publicity, but over the years shared her thoughts on fame and life as a musician:

My music comes from the heart, and when we’re making an album, we put our whole heart in and everything we’ve got. It isn’t about making a hit album; it’s not about second-guessing and predicting what people want to hear or what they want to buy. There’s sort of integrity in that.

sade18Fame – is not the sweet, rosy thing everybody expects.

sade-tulipWhat’s it like to see your face on the cover of a magazine? It doesn’t mean anything to me at all. I don’t really see it. I’m not trying to promote an image.

SadeWhatever anybody might say about me, when I feel the warmth we get back from the audiences, particularly in America, I think it’s worth all the bullshit. I actually prefer singing live now, I feel much more comfortable than I did. I used to be a bit frozen and worried about my vocal performance, as if I hadn’t learnt the language properly. It’s much easier for me to express myself now.

sade19Making music or any form of art is about making mistakes, and knowing when you’ve done the right thing, and making that choice. It’s all about choices. If you’re making a sculpture, you start with a piece of clay and you chip away. It’s what’s left that matters.

sade16When asked why she looks so incredible at 53, SADE said, I move a lot. I’m always doing stuff. I don’t lounge around much. I’m active because I know it’s good for me. I’ve even tried yoga, but my life just doesn’t seem to allow that kind of movement.

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