Did You Know? Sade Adu Is The First Nigerian To Win Grammy Award

By Duchess Magazine

Black girl magic has been the inspirational power of Black women smashing roofs to imprint their names on the indelible slate of success. It is no doubt that Africa is music, and not just music, but the bedrock of greatness to behold. Inasmuch as there has always been a lingering inadequacy in inclusion and diversity for Black people in all scopes of endeavor, their resolve in attaining outstanding success can not be overemphasized. 

Music has been an innate argot in my Black people since time immemorial, but with a simplified, yet encompassing curation made Sade Adu to stand tall with a beckon of contemporary music.

Helen Folasade Adu is a Nigerian-born English singer and actress. Born in Ibadan, Nigeria to a Nigerian father and British mother, she grew in Essex England. Sade studied fashion design at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London. It is her knowledge from here that she was able to gain modest recognition as a fashion designer and part-time model, prior to joining the band Pride in the early 1980s. She formed a songwriting partnership with Pride’s guitarist/saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, thereby, working together to get music gigs. Sade’s solo performances of of the song “Smooth Operator” was a good success, as the song fitly apposition her on the track to stardom. With the inking of record deal with Epic Records in 1983, Sade and her band released their debut album “Diamond Life” in 1984 with over 1.2 million copies in the UK, and went on to win the Brit Award for Best British Album in 1985. The album was a huge success climbing to the number 2 spot in the UK Album Chart, and on the top ten in the United States. It also became one of the top-selling debut recordings of the ’80s, and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist. Singles like “Your Love Is King” and “Smooth Operator” are favorite songs comprised in the debut album, with high rating across America and Europe.

Image credit: Gabriel Coutu Dumont

The band’s second album “Promise” pitched Sade to topnotch success, with the album selling four million copies in the United States, and was certified four times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The band in 1986 won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

With an auspicious stint in acting, Sade made her acting debut in “Absolute Beginners”, a film adapted from the Colin Maclnnes book of the same name about life in late-1950s London. 

However, Sade and her band’s exuberance in music was ever rejuvenating with albums that are scintillating and garnering record certifications in America and Europe. The fifth studio album “Lovers Rock” released in 2000, received positive reviews, and was certified triple platinum in the United States. Fortunately, the album earned Sade the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. The lead album single “By Your Side” has been listed as the 48th greatest love song of all time by VH1.

In recognition of her service to music, Sade was in 2002 conferred upon a national honor of Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace.

Image credit: Gabriel Coutu Dumont

In furtherance, Sade and her band has performed to numerous music tours and events with the release of their sixth album “Soldier of Love” in 2010. The title track won Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Sade’s work has influenced and been recognised by many singers and hip hop artists.

She was in 2017 promoted to Commander of the Order of British Empire (CBE) in the Birthday Honors, for her remarkable dedication to music. 

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