20 Artists Reflect on the Enduring Inspiration of Sade

20 Artists Reflect on the Enduring Inspiration of Sade

One of the most influential artists of today’s soundscape is the classically cool singer who shares a first name with her groundbreaking band. Here, musicians sound off on just how important Sade’s music, style, and attitude are as inspiration

One of the most influential artists of today’s soundscape is the classically cool singer who shares a first name with her groundbreaking band. Here, musicians sound off on just how important Sade’s music, style, and attitude are as inspiration

"Sade has the kind of voice that instantly puts you in a place or time—and puts you at ease. There’s something about the tone of her voice that cuts right through your body and goes straight to your soul. Covering “No Ordinary Love” [from Sade’s 1992 album, Love Deluxe] was one of the most daunting things I’ve ever done." p!nk

"When Sade’s sound comes to mind, I think: unique. The way she and the band conjure magic blows my mind. And just when you think whatever they’ve created is the best you’ve ever heard, they amaze you yet again. There will never be another. Sade Forever...Forever Sade! #DieHardStan" Kelly Rowland

"Sade was an artist my mother played in the house all the time as I was growing up. I remember being so enchanted by her pure, powerful vocal performances. Her style is completely unmatched, and she has always been a great influence to me in my music and career." Tinashe

"Diamond Life [1984] is my favorite Sade album. Definitely, her smooth, sexy vocals [influence contemporary music]. Sade is music you can release your deepest emotions out to." ILoveMakonnen

"Who hasn’t been inspired by Sade? Her music touches across multiple genres. Whether it’s a jazz feel, a soul feel, or R&B, there’s just no denying her. She could be gone five years and come back and get a gold album. Pure talent." Lyfe Jennings

“Her reach is so far and wide that her influence is still heard even in today’s current music. When you make music, real music, you want it to transcend and live through people, really give them something to identify with. She’s voiced in the past that she makes music when she chooses, but especially when she has something to say. I admire that." MŸA

"Sade’s tone possesses a sexiness that cannot compare to anyone else. She has her own voice, her own vibe. You can feel her energy. To this day she has remained authentic to her art and I respect that." Ro James

"One of the first covers I ever sang was Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” [Stronger Than Pride, 1988], looping its background vocals out of a secondhand amp at a house show on the stained hardwood floor of my college apartment. It was an environment devoid of pretense, which is a tangible aspect of Sade’s world. Her music, and the way she has sparingly released it over the past few decades, has taught me the subtle power in economizing your output, that sometimes your point is better made with an honest lyric or straightforward vocal, that you don’t need to oversaturate the market with contemporary cuts in order to connect. Sincerity shines through." Moses Sumney 

"I’m crazy over Sade and the many layers woven into her tapestry. That’s music that sits in your stomach forever. It is truly timeless with its content. My husband and I listen to her a lot." Princess Nokia

"Sade helped teach me that love is the most powerful and important thing in the world. Her natural exclusivity, class, and mystery are enduringly inspirational. The first time I heard Stronger Than Pride, it made me feel really warm and fuzzy inside. “Is It a Crime” is on Promise [1985], but that one made me cry when I first heard it." Kali Uchis

"She always gives off an understated elegance and a simplicity in dress that is unmatched. A lot of artists go for flash, shock, and awe—for me, she is a breath of fresh air, allowing herself and her music to shine while not trying too hard to portray anything different. The staple black, and that long beautiful braid and gold hoops are signature looks that I draw from currently." Kilo Kish

"Sade is hands down one of the biggest influences in my own music. I’ve collected every album and live DVD I could find. I’ve had the honor of working with Stewart Matthewman and spent most of that time asking him questions about Sade. She reminds me that authenticity, quality, and grace are the true makings of an artist." Niia

"Sade brings a certain kind of elegance to the world. Her voice soothes, it communicates pain and joy, it has a strength like water wearing down a rock. I saw her on her most recent tour and was struck by the minimalism of what she does: a tiny hand move here, a turn there, and the audience goes wild. She holds you in a tension. I love the way she deals with the media, by which I mean the way she doesn’t." Corinne Bailey Rae

"Sade is the epitome of classic timeless beauty. Her sound, her style, her grace—when I listen to her music it’s as though she’s inviting me to be a part of this beautiful world, like I’m welcomed there. That’s what makes her incredible: her musical journey is just relevant to everyone and it makes me, as a singer-songwriter, aspire to do the same thing with my music." YUNA

"To us, Sade is magical. Her voice has comforted us since we were kids listening to her albums with our mother. There’s this honesty when she sings that’s always connected with us as writers and vocalists. The raw emotion in her music is beautiful and feels pure. It feels like the human experience in songs: love, pain, despair, happiness, sadness, all emotions being sung by the sweetest voice." NINA SKY

"I grew up with a mother who was playing her as my nursery song before sleep. My mother gifted me, in a way, this one Sade song, if you can do that. It’s called “The Sweetest Gift” [Lovers Rock, 2000]. The lyrics go, “Quietly, while you were asleep, the moon and I were talking, I asked that she’d always keep you protected.” It’s a really beautiful song and now each and every time that song comes on, I feel like I need to call my mother." Carly Rae Jepsen

"Sade is the biggest inspiration to me. Not only has she made the most beautifully stirring music, is sophisticated and a style icon, she is a mother and seems in total control of her career. I adore her and everything about her." Jessie Ware

"One of my favorite writers. In my studying, the one thing I love most about Ms. Adu is her unwavering dedication to only create when she’s moved to do so. She’s so boss. I revere her gift. Ms. Adu, Andrew Hale, Paul Denman, Stuart Matthewman, if you ever read this I just want to say, 'Thank you.'" LEIKELI47

"When I was in middle school, I was finding music on blogs and I stumbled upon Promise. It was a super low quality version, but it sounded so clean. It was one of the most romantic sounding albums I’d ever found. I think it’s really important for younger people to hear such mature music; it’s eye opening. Soldier of Love [2010] is probably in my top five albums ever. I found this one at a totally different point in my life, but still just the right time. I’d begun producing at this point, and “Babyfather” [Soldier of Love] embodies the kind of song I’ve always wanted to make. It’s slow, beautiful, and optimistic, but still sounds melancholic. The album as a whole is perfectly diverse, but still it’s patient and restrained." Ryan Hemsworth

"Sade was a staple in my household. As a kid of Nigerian descent, as well as listening to traditional music, my parents also played and supported artists with Nigerian backgrounds. Sade’s music was and is the epitome of class, grace, and sensuality. Her voice and her lyrics hold so much wisdom, but also a vulnerability. It’s so distinctive—even describing it is difficult unless you’ve listened to “Your Love Is King” [Diamond Life] or “Jezebel” or “The Sweetest Taboo” [both, Promise]. Sade is life." MNEK

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