When Sade first came on the recording scene in the '80s, her record company, Epic, made a point of printing pronounced shar-day after her name on the record labels of her releases. Soon enough the world would have no problem in correctly pronouncing her name. Born Helen Folasade Adu in Ibadan, Nigeria, about 50 miles from Lagos, she was the daughter of an African father and an English mother. After her mother returned to England, Sade grew up on the North End of London.
Developing a good singing voice in her teens, Sade worked part-time jobs in and outside of the music business. She listened to Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holliday. Sade studied fashion design at St. Martin's School of Art in London while also doing some modeling on the side.