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‘I was Terrified, but Determined to give it My Best’: The Story of Grammy Award-Winning Singer, Sade Adu

“This is no ordinary love, no ordinary love…”

If you can recollect the soothing and captivating beat that accompanies the lyrics of this song, congratulations. You are not wet behind the ears.

I read something on Google Facts that was amusing, thought-provoking and worrisome: “The Generation that invented the iPads, Smartphones, android devices and the like, played outside as children.”

That generation also listened to the ‘Smooth Operator’ and other songs from the multiple chart-stopper, award-winning, quadruple-platinum selling Nigerian Singer, Helen Folasade Adu. Sade Adu to you.

Sade Adu
Source: ThisIsAfrica

To say that Sade Adu has had an illustrious career as a Singer, Songwriter and Producer is to say that humans need oxygen to live.

Born January 16, 1959, to Adebisi Adu and Anne Hayes in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, Sade Adu was blessed to be born with ‘it’… her soulful vocals could not have been earned or borrowed. It seemed to flow from her centre in to the microphone she wielded.

Strangely enough, while she listened to American soul music, from Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, to Bill Withers, music was not her first choice as a career. Sade Adu studied fashion at the St Martin’s School Of Art and even modeled briefly.

Her unconscious experiences with music though, were already beginning to shape her. As a teenager, she watched the Jackson 5 perform while she worked as a bartender on weekends. And it was not their dancing that held her spell-bound.

Sade Adu
Sade on 1/27/85 in Chicago, Il. (Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

“I was more fascinated by the audience than by anything that was going on on-stage. They had attracted kids, mothers with children, old people, white, black. I was really moved. That’s the audience I’ve always aimed for.”

And yet, Sade did not begin singing until old school friends with a fledgling group asked for her help with the vocals.

When she finally got an opportunity to sing, she made an unexpected discovery. All the butterflies in her stomach flitted and fluttered at the thought of singing.

“I used to get on stage with Pride, like, shaking. I was terrified. But I was determined to try my best, and I decided that if I was going to sing, I would sing the way I speak, because it’s important to be yourself.”

So, she beat the butterflies, and was soon singing back-up with a North London Latin funk band called Pride.

To say that there was no holding her back at this point, is also a bit of an understatement. However, life didn’t suddenly become a huge bouncy bed of roses over-night.

An excerpt from Sade.Com captures it succinctly.

‘At the time of her first album, Diamond Life, her actual life was anything but diamond-like. Sade was living in a converted fire station in Finsbury Park with her then boyfriend, the style journalist Robert Elms. There was no heating, which meant that she had to get dressed in bed. The loo, which used to ice over in winter, was on the fire escape. The bath was in the kitchen. “We were freezing, basically.”

Doesn’t sound like the life of a star, right?

Sade Adu
Source: e4PR Blogspot

Well, she didn’t despise those days of little beginnings, and neither should you.

While some of us were in diapers, Sade’s band was winning a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1986. In 1994, ‘No Ordinary Love’ won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. In February 2002, ‘Lovers Rock’ earned Sade the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.  In 2010, The Sunday Times named her the most successful solo British female artist in history. At the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2011, Soldier of Love won Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and in 2012, Sade was listed at No. 30 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Music.

Her discography includes, 1984: Diamond Life, 1985: Promise, 1988: Stronger Than Pride, 1992: Love Deluxe, 1994: The Best of Sade, 2000: Lovers Rock, 2002: Lovers Live, 2010: Soldier of Love, 2011: The Ultimate Collection, 2012: Bring Me Home: Live 2011.

Sade Adu

Sade is evidently under no pressure to ‘drop an album’ every year or a single every month as obtains in the music industry these days. According to her,

“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.”

The moral of this story?

I was terrified. But I was determined to try my best, and I decided that if I was going to sing, I would sing the way I speak, because it’s important to be yourself.”

To be terrified, but still determine to overcome your fear, and give it your best; all the while, remaining true to who you really are: that dear friends is a personal development goal.

Follow us on Twitter: @Konnect_Africa 

Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
5 Things You Didn't Know About Jennifer in 2015: 1. Her newest collection of short stories, 'The Curious Case of the Small Pikin & Other Stories' is available on 2. She ported from Blogger to WordPress and shares her uncensored thoughts on 3. She is an aspiring Filmmaker & Talk-show Host[ess] 4. She's a mother of two, wife of one and daughter of God. 5. She plans to travel around the world in less than 80 days... Now you Know! Find me on Twitter: @jennynkem

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  1. Love this story. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for all the other great ones I have read but was not able to leave a comment. Lol! I say well done to Sade. I too totally believe in doing it afraid. Many of the great things we do will be done that way. That is why they become great. They were bigger than us.

    I always say if you want to do something and you do not feel afraid, it is a man thing. If you are scared and don’t think you can do it , then it’s a God thing.

    • Well said, Ma. Even God never gave up. After He created man, man fell into sin. God didn’t give up there. He created another plan to rescue mankind and that was how Jesus came. Since then, the world has not remained the same. The message is simple – when we give up, we are so un-like God. But when we keep pushing forward even when we are scared, we begin to stretch ourselves into the God-zone and interesting things begin to happen.

      Thanks for sharing, Ma.

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