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Sade working her magic.

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“Call her a reluctant siren. Sade, the singer whose first two albums have reached the national Top 5, is also gathering raves for her distinctive looks, and the sudden adulation has left her a little bewildered. ‘I don’t think I’m classically good-looking,’ she says. ‘In fact, I think I’m a bit strange looking. I mean, my forehead sits on top of my head like a large grapefruit.’

‘I thought my songs wouldn’t sit well on the charts,’ says Sade. ‘The band and I just wanted to make a good record, one that none of our friends would be ashamed of. It wasn’t the fame that attracted us, it was the notion of having something on vinyl, a real record.’

‘I certainly never expected things to reach this scale,’ says Sade, 27, whose reaction has been to try to keep her public persona as low-key as her music. She gives few interviews and is a missing person on the club party circuit in London, where she lives. She indulges a taste for clothing that is elegant, not flamboyant—a description that applies equally well to her performing style. ‘People have criticized me for not being dramatic enough onstage,’ she says. ‘I only do things that come naturally. Anyone can stick their arms out, dance around, pretend to cry. I’d feel embarrassed doing that. We try to preserve our dignity.’

Although Sade has grown to like the idea of being a singer, she claims she is not now and never wants to be a rock star. ‘The mere notion is abhorrent,’ she says. ‘If you’re a rock star, then you can’t be a human being, you can’t invite your friends over to the kitchen and just communicate with them. Friendships are important to me, especially when I have to put up with photographers climbing trees to take pictures of me at home or stalking the parks waiting for me to walk my dog.’ 

 Snoops who do penetrate her privacy aren’t likely to find out anything very startling, she says. Although she has made some concessions to sudden wealth—including a flat in north London and a ‘58 Wolseley sports car—she believes she’s winning the battle to maintain a private life. ‘I’m me, just the same as me 10 years ago,’ says Sade. ‘And I plan to keep it that way.”

Lean and Languid and Young and Lovely, Pop’s Sade Makes Even the Girl from Ipanema Seem Hyper by Stanley Mieses, 1986