The mid 1980s may have been dominated by wild music videos and hair bands, but the sultry vocals of a young Brit broke through to dominate charts with the album Diamond Life.
A former model, young Sade Adu started back-up singing with a band called Pride.
Adu started writing with fellow band member Stuart Mathewman, and the duo often did a side set with Pride, attracting attention for their soulful songs. Band members Paul Denman and Paul Cook decided to leave Pride with Mathewman and Adu to form the band Sade in 1983.
Attracting attention for its unique sounds, Sade was signed to Epic Records and in 1983, spent six weeks recording their debut album in London. Mixing jazz, pop and funk with Adu’s strong vocals, Diamond Life was released in February 1984.
The first single Your Love is King did well, and the second single When am I Going to Make a Living did ok, but it was the third single that captured listeners on both sides of the Atlantic.
Smooth Operator was released as a single in September 1984 and reaching top 20 in the UK and Europe and top five in the Billboard single charts in the US.
Diamond Life won the Brit Award for Best British Album and the video for Smooth Operator, directed by Julien Temple, was nominated for two MTV video awards. Six million copies of the album was sold, making it one of the bestselling albums of the 1980s and the debut of neo-soul and the distinctive voice of Sade Adu.