Sade is so very private, so extremely wary of the press that her friends - all of whom are bound to silence - have nicknamed her Howie, after Howard Hughes. The most reclusive British singer of the 1980s has kept such a low profile since her Smooth Operator days - one tour in 14 years - that, when we meet at the London office of her record label to hear the songs from her new album, Soldier of Love, I am the only person in the room who has met her before.
It’s 10 years since her last album release, the 2000 offering, Lovers Rock. Despite or maybe because of that, the reverence she commands is palpable. She is the most successful solo female artist Britain has ever produced: she has sold more than 50m albums in a career that stretches back 27 years. And more than half of those albums were sold from the mid-1990s onwards, when Sade all but disappeared from view. Since then, she has only surfaced a few times — and this is the only face-to-face interview she will consent to now.
Paradoxically, in person she is open, friendly and relaxed - she’s happy to let me into her spacious Georgian house in leafy north London - and willing to laugh at herself. Unlike her songs, which are often freighted with introspective sadness and regret, her conversation is punctuated with a lively and very English self-mockery. She tells me about a graffitied poster of herself that her guitarist Stuart Matthewman spotted in New York. Above her glamorous image, some wag had sprayed the observation: “This bitch sings when she wants to.” Sade thinks this hilarious. It sums up her career pretty well. She makes music on her own terms.
She doesn’t look to have aged much during her long absence. On the eve of her 51st birthday, her face is unlined and she is still striking. Taller in person than she appears on stage (she is about 5ft 8in) with that large, domed head, wide-set eyes and coil of jet-black hair, she has an exotic allure that she professes not to care a fig about. “People always used to say, ‘What’s it like to see your face on the cover of a magazine?’ But it doesn’t mean anything to me at all. I don’t really see it. I’m not trying to promote an image.”
Read the full article here:
Times Online - Sade emerges from her country retreat