sade mastered the art of not giving a f*ck about industry standards and being on her own lane

January 16, 2018
14.4K Picks

It’s been 34 years since Sade Adu formed her band. Today, when “Smooth Operator” or “No Ordinary Love” comes on, kids born far after the release of the groundbreaking tracks will likely sing along to the words, because the singer’s legacy, despite her notable reclusiveness, cannot be diminished.

Born Helen Folasade Adu, to a Nigerian father and British mother, Sade’s 59 years on this earth can be characterized by her unapologetic embrace of her own style, and by her far-reaching talent. From early on in her music career, Sade took control of her own destiny, stepping out of the shadow of the band Pride to start her own, taking multiple hiatuses whenever she felt it necessary—like in the decade years after her first child was born—and putting out music way ahead of her time. Her unique voice is instantly recognizable.

Sade releases albums when she’s ready (6 studio albums in about 30 years). Her identity as a maverick has made her contributions to neo-soul undeniable, incorporating elements of soul, pop and smooth jazz in ways that had never been done before. To this day, your faves cite Sade among their faves, like when Talib Kweli stated he learned about precision from watching Sade’s Madison Square Garden performance of Love Deluxe, and when the late singer Aaliyah noted she admired Sade because “she stays true to her style no matter what… she’s an amazing artist, an amazing performer… and I absolutely love her.”

Happy 59th birthday, Sade!