The soul singer Sade Adu has maintained pop cultural relevance in the 30 years since the debut of her group’s first studio album Diamond Life, which spawned moody, quiet storm singles like “Smooth Operator,” and “Your Love is King.” For The New York Times, Jacob Bernstein considers how Sade has maintained her brand so successfully for so long.
It turned out she was great, with a breathy voice that was heard by Stuart Matthewman and Paul Denman, playing in a band called Pride. They asked Ms. Adu to start singing with them.
In 1982 or 1983, Mr. Matthewman and Mr. Denman left Pride and formed a group around Sade.
They signed to Epic Records, where executives quickly realized they were dealing with an artist with no direct historical precedent.
“She was one of those rare artists I fell completely in love with because she came just the way she is now,” said Susan Blond, a former vice president and publicity director at Epic who now heads an agency where clients have included Aerosmith, Will.I.Am and Morrissey.
“She was very young, but she was very sophisticated,” Ms. Blond said. “She didn’t follow anyone else’s style. No one was as beautiful or had as sleek of a look as her. She didn’t mind designer clothes, but you’d never ever look at her and say, ‘Oh that’s a Chanel outfit.’ She never looked like a brand. And her songs seemed to become classics immediately.”