When Sade burst onto the world music scene in the mid 1980's, her exotic looks, combined with the smooth sound of the music, made her a recording and fashion star! Sade became an "image" of the times...something she wasn't trying to do.

Helen Folasade Adu was born in Nigeria in 1959. Her father was Nigerian, a university teacher of economics. Her mother Anne was an English nurse. The couple met in London while he was studying, and they moved to Nigeria shortly after getting married.

When a daughter was born, the locals weren't able to call her by her English name, and a shortened version of Folasade stuck. When she was four, her parents separated, and her mother brought Sade and her older brother Banji back to England.

Sade grew up in the 1970's, enjoying American soul music, including Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, and Bill Withers. As a teen, she saw the Jackson 5 at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, where she worked behind the bar on weekends. Sade says that while she enjoyed music, she was fascinated by the diverse audience: white, black, and all ages. That's something she strives for today, in here music.

You might be surprised to find out that music was not Sade's first choice as a career! She studied fashion at St Martin's School Of Art, and only began singing after two school friends with a struggling group asked her to help out on vocals!

Initially, Sade found herself literally trembling while on stage! Somewhat to her surprise, she found that while the singing made her nervous, she really enjoyed writing songs.

After two years, Sade overcame her stage fright and was regularly singing with a North London Latin funk band called Pride.

From 1981 til 1984, she and the other seven members of the band toured England, often with her driving!  A part of Pride's shows featured Sade singing with a quartet that played quieter, jazzier numbers. The song "Smooth Operator," which Sade had co-written, attracted the attention of the record companies.

Soon, everybody wanted to sign Sade, but not the rest of Pride.

Being loyal to her band mates, Sade held out for 18 months...only signing with Epic Records on the condition that they also take the three guys who still make up the band known as Sade: saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, keyboard player Andrew Hale, and bassist Paul Denman.

"Diamond Life," 1985. (Craig Allen photo)

At the time of her first album, "Diamond Life," Sade's real life was anything but diamond-like: she was living in a converted fire station with her then-boyfriend. There was no heat...which meant that she got dressed in bed! The bathroom, which iced over in winter, was on the fire escape. The bathtub was in the kitchen. YIKES!

Sade's first single in her native country, "Your Love Is King" became a top 10 British hit in February 1984, and with that her life changed forever. Let's just say, more fire station...

"Your Love Is King" was Sade's second single in the U.S. It went to #54 in 1985...

We were introduced to Sade by the song that attracted her to the record scouts: "Smooth Operator."  A #5 hit in 1985. Not a bad debut...

And, the hits continued to roll in:

"The Sweetest Taboo" went to #5 on the charts in 1986.

"Never As Good As The First Time" landed at #20 later in 1986.

"Stronger Than Pride," 1988. (Craig Allen photo)

"Paradise" was the next single, in 1988.

#16 on the charts in New Jersey was paradise for Sade...

Paradise, turntable style! (Craig Allen photo)

For the rest of the 1980's, Sade toured constantly...saying that just doing videos and TV appearances is not enough....

She believes that an artist has to play live to know, to feel, that the audience loves the music.

"No Ordinary Love" was Sade's chart hit in the '90s...#28 in 1993.

"No Ordinary Love" CD Single, 1993. (Craig Allen photo)

For most of the past 20 years, Sade has put her personal life ahead of her professional career (she had a daughter Ila Adu, in 1996), releasing only three studio albums of new material.

Best Of Sade, 1994. (Craig Allen photo)

As Sade states on her official site: "You can only grow as an artist as long as you allow yourself the time to grow as a person."

Prior to the release of "Soldier Of Love," The "Daily Mail" newspaper had described Sade as "famously reclusive"

Sade is said to be the most successful solo female artist in British history, having sold over 110 million albums worldwide, to date! In 2002, she was made an Officer Of The Order Of The British Empire, for her contributions to popular music.

Sade's latest studio album, "Soldier Of Love," was released in 2010.

A "Best Of" and "Live" album have followed...

In 2012, Sade was listed at number 30 on "VH-1's 100 Greatest Women In Music."

What is Sade up to now? For her official site, click here!

Sade, Live in concert, at the Prudential Center in Newark, June 25, 2011!