By Odebunmi Emmanuel

I want you to imagine the softest texture you can think of. Imagine it on your skin, drifting along, slowly and softly. For me, it is velvet. A Velvet material with a very regal shade of purple and its journey from nook to cranny on my skin is what I picture Sade Adu’s voice to feel like.

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Recently, there were some comparisons on social media between Sade Adu and a more contemporary artist. I won’t be paying much attention to that because of the legacy and career of Helen Folasade Adu speak for themselves. What I would be highlighting, instead, is my personal encounter with Sade Adu’s sound.

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The first song of hers I ever listened to is No Ordinary Love. The moment I was put on to her music, I knew she was something. Suddenly, I could relate to J. Cole’s lyrics that went, “My only regret, was too young for Sade Adu.” Her voice is one of those that is undeniable. It is somewhat ironic because, at the same time, it is one of the most soothing sounds you will ever come across. It is one of those rare gems that commands silence, employing only a quiet purity.

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As I write this, it’s 2:38 am and I’m playing ‘The Best of Sade’ compilation on Apple Music. I can hardly focus on her words as she sings Your Love is King but what I am able to notice is the scientific breakthrough taking place right here in my bedroom.

I feel like I’ve moved through time and I’m standing in the 90s, doing whatever it is that people did back then, listening to Sade Adu and nodding my head like a true native of the times. At the same time, I’m a GenZer, sitting in bed in 2020, feeling like I can relate to a sound that has succeeded in transcending ages.

When you google Sade Adu, you would find that she is the first artiste of Nigerian origin to win a Grammy award. Helen Folasade Adu is stamped in the history books, not just in her African roots but particularly in the international space. Sade was born in Ibadan and dare I say, I’m proud of that. Although raised in England, she has been able to cast a light on the caliber of talent that Africa, and Nigeria especially, has succeeded in creating.

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“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.”

Another thing you can enjoy about Sade is the fact that her music is not simply commercial. It is not just a cocktail of sounds and lyrics prepared to drive sales. They contain something. And Sade’s appeal expands beyond her music. There is an apparent royalty in her speech and carriage that can’t be imitated even if you tried.

With an entire discography of classics, Sade is incomparable. Her influence stretches through ages, and a discovery of her music is like an encounter with velvet.

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