Who Is Sade? Five Things You Didn’t Know

Sade Adu is a Nigerian-born English singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer. And, most recently, Sade seems to be Drake’s newest obsession (see tattooed portrait). Here are five things you didn’t know about the soulful singer.

Her birth name is Helen Folasade Adu.

Sade was born on January 16, 1959, to a Nigerian father (Adebisi Adu) and an English mother (Anne Hayes) in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. “Folasade” translates as “honor confers your crown” and was shortened to Sade while she was growing up in Nigeria.

When Sade was four years old, her mother and father separated, and Sade returned to England to live with her grandparents and older brother, Banji. When Sade turned 11, she moved to Holland-on-Sea, Essex, to live with her mother.

“My mother left my father because she found it impossible to live with him, although they loved each other very much,” Sade said in an interview with Soulhead. “It was hard for my mother because he was the man of her life. On her wedding day, my father gave her a red rose and when he died she threw it in his grave. She’d kept it for 30 years. That was the moment I realized how deeply she cared for him.”

Once Sade was 18, she moved to London to complete her education. She studied fashion design at Saint Martin’s School of Art.

Her first collaboration was with Jay-Z.

Throughout the years, Sade has turned down some pretty heavy hitters in the music industry, including Jay-Z in 2010.

“I would have asked Jay-Z to rap on ‘Soldier of Love’ in 2010,” Sade told Life + Times. “There’s not much else I would change – the mistakes I’ve made have made me grow braver.”

Jay-Z did eventually appear, though, on Sade’s 2011 The Ultimate.

“I love when our music is reclaimed to make something new,” Sade said. “It’s like musical recycling. I always see it as a compliment.”

She’s the No 1 British Artist in America (sorry, Adele).

In 2010, Sade stormed the U.S. with a new album, a greatest hits album, and a tour.

In 2011, Brad Wavra, senior vice-president of touring at Live Nation, told Billboard Sade is a “rare jewel.” He said, “It feels like I’m working with Miles Davis, Elvis Presley and the Beatles all rolled into one.”

Rolling Stone described her studio album, Soldier of Love, as “unimpeachably excellent” while Billboard said, “It’s been 10 years since Sade released an album, but be forewarned – the giant has awoken.”

She received an OBE.

In 2002, Sade was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Prince Charles presented the award to her; Sade said she was accepting it on behalf of “all black women.”

I noticed the reactions when I first came over here,” Sade told La Times of her early trips to America. “London was a really multi-racial city … It’s incredible how comfortable people are with race there. But I was surprised when I came to America the first time. It was very, very rare to see black and white couples holding hands.”

Sade has a transgender daughter named Mickailia “Ila” Adu.

Sade’s only child, Mickailia “Ila” Adu, has recently made headlines for her transition from female to male. In 2016, Ila told The Pulse that he suffers from gender dysphoria – a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

In a post on Ila’s private Instagram account, Ila posted a picture of himself captioned “today is the first day of the rest of my life. 4/10/16.” The caption included a sun and needle emoji, and some hashtags indicating Ila is starting on hormone therapy. The hashtags included #ftm, #transman, #proud and #yaaassss.

[Featured Image By Ethan Miller/Getty Images]