Sade has to be one of the most underrated singers of our time. Sure, she’s fairly well known but if someone were to ask you to name a soul singer, or an R&B singer… would Sade be the first name you think of?
Oddly enough, Sade is actually the name of the musical ensemble, the project if you will. Helen Folasade Adu happens to be the lead singer of that group. It’s kind of like how Air Force One is whatever airplane the President happens to be on, the members of Sade can rotate in and out, but the group that she’s fronting is Sade.
I have to confess that, for a long time, I pronounced it “sahd” as in “Marquis de,” but you have to remember that this was a time before the Internet. For some reason, the radio station that often played her music rarely announced who they played or who was coming up later in the hour. They just hopped from one song to another, occasionally doing weather and station identification, and then the commercials, before dropping back into the music. There’s still a song or two from that station where I only remember the melody and haven’t the faintest idea what the tune was.
When I first laid eyes on Sade, I fell head over heels for her. I’d heard her singing on the radio, but when I saw a music video on MTV (Back when they played music videos, so I’m dating myself here.) it was a magical moment. I had pictured this woman in my head and, other than the length of her hair, my mental image was mostly correct. The hair? I’d given her a shorter style. I don’t know what that says about the effect of her voice upon me, but I’ve been a lifelong fan ever since. I would listen to Sade sing the phone book, and that’s not an exaggeration.
When I saw some video of her live performances, I noticed that she and I share a quirk in performance. I don’t get on a stage very often these days, maybe once or twice a year and usually for a small audience. When I do, no matter if I’m playing keyboard, bass, drums, or congas; I’m almost always barefoot. For me, it’s a matter of comfort and feeling. If I’m playing drums, I can better control the kick and high-hat pedals with bare feet because I can feel them far better than I can wearing sneakers. Beyond that, if I’m playing bass or keyboards, I can feel the beat through the floor.
She has her own reasons, I’m sure. Maybe they’re similar to mine or maybe it’s something from her Yoruba heritage. I don’t know. All I know is that she’s magical, and here she is doing two of my favourite songs.