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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Sade Abu Turns 63: Everything You Need to Know About Nigeria’s First Grammy Winner

Sade Adu, one of the world’s finest musicians of Nigerian descent, turns 63 today, and with her stands the pride of Nigeria, as the first African singer to win the Grammy awards.

Though not much is known about the singer since she retired in the early 2000s, she did make a couple of reappearances in 2018 with songs for two movies, one of which was a Disney picture.

We’ll learn a lot about her in this piece, how she started her career as a fashion designer before venturing into music.

The life of this beauty who has now turned 63 is certainly a curious one. She was born Helen Folasade Adu in Nigeria, where her father (an economist) was from but at the age of 4 she moved to England, the country of her mother, who was a nurse. Interested in fashion first, she enrolled in Design at Saint Martin’s and sold clothes in Candem Town. She also liked to sing (she idolized Nina Simone), so she started in a Latin-tinged group called Arriva that was quite successful.

Eventually her band ended up being called Sade: such was the pull of her vocalist that magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan immediately had their eye on her.

In 1984 she hit the big time with the song “Love is King” and established herself as a soul muse with a very particular style, a kind of mixture marked by jazz, contemporary rhythm & blues, funk and pop. An eclecticism that she combined with melancholic lyrics that she herself composed. 

Then came Smooth Operator and her most famous album, Love De Luxe, with the song No Ordinary Love, which was part of the soundtrack of the movie An Indecent Proposal (1992), starring Demi Moore and Robert Redford.

 In 1986, she became the first Nigerian(African) to win a Grammy Award when she was chosen as Best New Artist.

Sade had been romantically involved with an English journalist named Robert Elms, and even with a Spaniard, Carlos Scola Pliego, a documentary director with whom she lived in Madrid for a few years and who worked as a scriptwriter on Fernando Trueba’s famous Opera Prima. An anecdote that few know, since Sade managed to go unnoticed in Spain in those late 80’s surprisingly. She got married to Carlos Scola Pliego, and they were together from 1989 to 1995.

However, it was with producer Bob Morgan that Sade became a mother. She gave birth to her only child, Mickailia Adu, on July 21, 1996. That’s why she retired for a few years, to take care of her little girl.

Having sold 40 million records helped her to make that decision. She managed a good fortune and preferred to continue singing but at home. At present, she lives in a small town in the English countryside with her last partner, a chemist who was a sailor in the British Royal Navy, and their children. Incidentally, her daughter is no longer a woman, but a transgender boy named Izaak Theo who has thanked his mother on social media for her unceasing help during his transition.

Sade’s last published works were Soldier of Love (2010) and the compilation The Ultimate Collection (2011), although in April 2018 the artist’s first original song in seven years was heard. It was for the Disney film A Fold in Time, and was titled Flower of the Universe. Sade has been discovered by millennials thanks to the revival that 90s R&B has experienced.Kanye West has had quite a bit to do with this: he often wears T-shirts with the cover of Sade’s albums. 

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