If you read my bio, you know I spent all of elementary school in Germany. Seeing and experiencing Europe were primary goals my parents had for us kids, so we traveled a lot. The preferred mode of transportation: by car. I have many memories of our road trips. I have many memories of listening to the same four cassette tapes over and over: James Taylor, Steely Dan, and two albums by Sade.
I will admit, as a child, I did not fully appreciate Sade’s music. I knew I liked her velvet-y voice, but I probably heard the song “Your Love Is King” one thousand times between the ages of 6 and 12. I always felt it was a compliment when my parents’ friends would say I looked like a little Sade. My mom started having my hair relaxed when I was eight years old and I always wore it like the songstress: pulled back in a low ponytail. It wasn’t until we moved to the United States, the invention of the compact disc, my dad’s discovery of a 1988 album, and the release of a new album, that I learned to fully love Sade.
At 12, I was just beginning my angst-y preteen/teen-aged years. MTV and BET ruled my universe. I alternated between listening to Arrested Development and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, in the background, my dad was listening to this song that I secretly loved by Sade: Stronger than Pride. Her voice, the percussion, the sweet guitar towards the end that has nuances of pain. The song resonated with me. I had never been in love, but the song vicariously let me feel the struggle.
Sade’s Stronger than Pride (Audio):
That summer, Sade released Love Deluxe. I loved every song on this album. The videos for this album were in constant rotation on MTV and BET, so it was ok that I liked Sade (I was 12, so I cared what people thought). Who can forget her “Ordinary Love” video?
Sade was also so beautiful. I loved her hair. Again, her voice. I was beginning to grasp what she was singing, the metaphors, the pain. It was also the first time I correlated artistry with music. Half-Nigerian and half-English, Sade Adu moved to the UK at 4 from Nigeria and has always been aware of social issues and sings about them. In 1992, Sade juxtaposed first-world problems with a Somali woman’s real problems in her song “Pearls”. I always remember these lyrics when I complain about something trivial:
“She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives a life she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes
Hurts like brand-new shoes”
Eyebrows on fleek in 1992:
Love Deluxe was so deliciously 90s. I loved it.
It would be 8 years before Sade would release another album. Lovers Rock would become the wedding song of 2001. I did not listen to the whole album. By then, I was knee-deep in The Postal Service, Air, and Zero 7. I also didn’t listen to her follow-up album, Soldier of Love released in 2010. Writing this post has reminded me I need to re-visit the works of Sade and Love Deluxe will always have a special place in my heart.