When Sade Adu and her band Sade came onto the scene in 1983, they brought with them a silky smooth blend of R&B, soul, jazz, funk, and soft rock. Coming together with Adu from the pieces of another band, Pride, were Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale, and Paul Spencer Denman.
Adu had originally studied fashion at St. Martin's School of Art and only got into singing to help out a couple of friends with a band. Though performing live may her nervous, she enjoyed songwriting so Adu managed to overcome her stage fright to become a full-fledged member of the Pride ensemble.
Pride toured the UK for three years with an Adu-fronted quartet doing smooth jazz numbers as part of the show. The act drew immediate attention from the record industry who wanted to sign her. Adu deflected the offers out of loyalty to the band as a whole. She eventually relented on the condition that she could bring Matthewman, Hale, and Denman along for the ride.
The band's 1984 debut, Diamond Life, was met with warm responses from the moment its first single, "Your Love Is King," started spinning in the UK. For the United States, "Hang on to Your Love" was chosen to lead the charge with the full album following in early 1985. The video for yet another single, "Smooth Operator," won Sade two MTV Video Awards, for "Best Female Video" and "Best New Artist."
Sade's performance at 1985's Live Aid concert was not only in front of 75,000 people at Wembley Stadium, but another 1.4 billion around the world.
Following that momentum up with a second effort, Promise was released in the UK in late 1985 and in the U.S. the next year. A Grammy Award for Best New Artist also came their way. A worldwide headlining tour for Promise got underway in late 1985, as well.
A third effort, Stronger Than Pride, came in 1988, with a fourth, Love Deluxe, in 1992. The latter resulted in a Grammy win for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for "No Ordinary Love."
After this run, the band took a hiatus with Hale, Denman, and Matthewman pursuing a side project, Sweetback. Sade's first public performance after the break came in 2000 and was followed by the release of Lovers Rock, which brought home another Grammy in the Best Pop Vocal Album category.
A tour of the U.S. took place in 2001 and resulted in the Lovers Live collection. Another, more-lengthy hiatus followed and lasted until 2009 when Sade issued Soldier of Love which was recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studio. The album debuted at the top of the Billboard album chart, making it the band's first number one record since Promise in 1986.
Of the band's less-than-prolific discography – six albums in 25 years – Sade says, "I only make records when I feel I have something to say. I'm not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand."