Dinner party soundtracker to timeless muse: exploring the Sade complex

The enigmatic musician remains an influence on modern stars such as Drake and Beyonc. As she releases her first single in seven years we explore why

Picture the scene: A dinner party. It could be any dinner party, anywhere in North America or Europe, taking place at any point in the last 30 years, but this one happens to be a fictional dinner party thrown by Nathan (James Tupper) and Bonnie Carlson (Zo Kravitz) in Big Little Lies, the hit TV series about miserable rich people living in coastal California.

I love this music. Bonnie, is this Adele? asks Reese Witherspoons character, Madeline, ever-so-slightly loose from the half a Xanax she popped en route.

No, its Sade, actually, responds Bonnie.

We should get this, honey, Madeline says to her husband, Ed, played by Adam Scott.

Oh, we have it, he replies, bemused.

The joke is how much all mums love Adele. The joke is that Madeline is trying so hard to appear hip in front of her ex-husbands younger, yoga-toned new wife. The joke is how serenely impervious Bonnie is to any back-handed compliment. The mystery is how, in a career spanning over 30 years, Sade has come to simultaneously symbolise both the dinner party-throwing pretensions of the contemptibly bourgeois and the casually classic style to which we should all aspire.

This spring, Helen Folasade Sade Adu, the half-British, half-Nigerian 59-year-old, is making another of her many comebacks with Flower of the Universe, her first new song for seven years, recorded for the soundtrack of the much-anticipated Disney movie A Wrinkle in Time. Announcing the coup, director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter: I never thought shed say yes, but asked anyway. She was kind + giving. A goddess its a dream come true.

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