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Sade's Anniversary Box Set, "This Far" Is On Our Christmas List

There's not much in this world that I love more than Queen Muva.

Culture & Entertainment

There's not much in this world that I love more than queen muva, Helen Folasade Adu. My mother used to tell me that she would have her sing to me when I was in the womb, which may be why her music has followed me from adolescence into adulthood (where she absolutely blasts regularly). Additionally, I grew up often hearing that sultry voice blaring throughout the house, as it was common for Sade Lover's Live DVD to be playing on infamous, clean-up Sundays. Sure, most of Sade's songs were created and released before I could even walk, but of course, that never mattered, her music always managed to translate regardless. And her lowkey aesthetic and dark, sexy, timeless, indie style-of-music, always seemed to hit the spot. Each classic: unmatched. Her voice: subtle, but powerful. And the melodies: carefully crafted just enough to get lost in.

In an era of hair bands, adult contemporary power players, a hip-hop uprising, and androgynous stars such as Bowie, Prince and Elton John, Sade showed that they could compete; compete as a black woman fronting white musicians, something never really seen before in it's time. Not many in this world make the caliber of classics that she has sung, yet her intentional and notorious out-of-the-spotlight persona, directly cheated our ideas of fame, and with it all, she is still one of the most beloved, brilliant, and important crooners of all time.

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Recently, the queen and her band, Sade (because remember, Sade is the actual band's name), released an anniversary box set which is a collection of the band's six studio albums. That's right ladies, Diamond Life (1984), Promise (1985), Stronger Than Pride (1988), Love Deluxe (1992), Lovers Rock (2000), and Soldier Of Love (2010) have all been remastered and compiled into a career-spanning vinyl box set complete with a very detailed, intricate remastering process (girl, stop all that screaming!)

This Far was released on October 9 through Sony music, and arrives on the heels of the 10th anniversary of Solider of Love's initial release. And as its title hints, the collection marks a milestone, but also suggests there's more to come. #crossesfingers

We wanted to take a moment to list out each album included in This Far to discuss the impact, history, and our favorite Sade songs on that album. So, if you haven't already, grab that wine and throw on Sade, sis, because we're vibing in here today!

Diamond Life (1984)

When Diamond Life hit stores in July of 1984, it changed the landscape. The record blew open an already vibrant rhythm and blues scene in the UK, where the band is from, and helped to dominate it as capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with its American counterparts. Further, Sade's rise to prominence cemented that a woman of color fronting a band of white male musicians, could be a persuasive platinum seller as much as any British music such as The Beatles, Sting, etc.

A 1985, New York Times article, and a sure reflection of the times, said about the album:

''Diamond Life'' has already sold just under a million copies in England (the equivalent of three million in the United States) and has spawned three international hits. The star of the group is a self-possessed 24-year-old singer-songwriter of Nigerian and British descent, named Sade Adu, who was born in Nigeria and brought up in the English coastal resort town of Clacton. Stunningly photogenic, Miss Adu possesses a dusky, haunting pop-jazz alto whose blase sensuality perfectly matches her sleek appearance. As an icon of a ''new pop elegance,'' Miss Adu already has the American fashion press stampeding after her."

With classics such as "Smooth Operator", "Cherry Pie", and "Your Love Is King", Diamond Life, has sold over 10+ million copies worldwide, becoming one of the top-selling debut recordings of the era and the best-selling debut album by a British female vocalist ever, a record that has stood for over 24 years.

Promise (1985)

To date, Promise is probably the album that resonates with me most. The band's second studio album boasts Sade songs such as "Is it a Crime", "Sweetest Taboo", and "Jezebel", as its lead tracks, catapulting Sade into superstardom with one million copies sold in the US, and a certified quadruple platinum production by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Paired with Diamond Life, the two act as a real life soundtrack for melodic euphoria.

The album turns 35 in November of 2020 and still rages as one of the band's most impressive bodies of work.

Stronger Than Pride (1988)

Perhaps one of Sade's most recognizable albums, and my personal favorite—if there is a such thing when it comes to Sade—is their third studio album, Stronger Than Pride. Released in 1988, three years prior to a back-to-back reign, Stronger Than Pride houses cult favorites: "Keep Looking", "Paradise", and title track, "Love Is Stronger Than Pride". She sings, "I can't hate you, Although I have tried..."

A mooddddd. Listen, throw this one on, and you're bound to get lost, sis. Lost in a type of music that not many can promise to you these days.

To-date, Stronger Than Pride has sold over four million albums, and Pitchfork listed it as one of the top 200 albums of the 80's. Also, fun fact, Sade made her acting debut as Athene Duncannon in the 1986 British film, Absolute Beginners, as well as sung on the movie's accompanying soundtrack. Of the album, Sade said:

"One of the reasons the album is how it is because allowed to be and it was quite free it was allowed to be that way. And I was away from the media, I was away from any suppression from the record company. We were all sort of in our own little environment and I think, if anything, that comes through on the album."

Received with open arms, and during what was one of the more competitive years in music, it peaked at Number 7 on the Billboard 200.

"I still really really love you, Love is stronger than pride." Whew.

Love Deluxe (1992)

Sade welcomed us into the 90's with Love Deluxe, the fourth studio album that housed Sade jams such as "No Ordinary Love", "Kiss of Life", and "Cherish the Day". Love Deluxe was released a full four years following Stronger than Pride, yet retained the band's classy and distinctive style. It was (and still is) seen by many as the band's best, a high-point in a career with many high-points. Although, Love Deluxe was less received and critically acclaimed of the prior three albums, it positioned the band in a more mainstream realm of music.

"No Ordinary Love" is the best known song, due to winning the 1994 Grammy for Best R&B performance, and was featured on the soundtrack of the 1993 movie, Indecent Proposal.

Love Deluxe was the only album the band release in the 90's. Following this album, Sade took a hiatus, where she had her first child, and the band's guitarist and saxophone player went on to develop the career of another R&B artist that you may know as...Maxwell.

Lover's Rock (2000)

It's been 20 years since this album was released but it's as sleek, refined, elegant and sultry as ever. Lovers Rock was released in November 2000, and it was titled after a style of reggae known as 'lovers rock'. All of Sade's music will have you grabbing bae, but the opening track, "By Your Side", will have you falling in love with him all over again.

Lovers Rock was met with mostly positive reviews, who praised the band's new sound. The album also earned Sade the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2002. Commercially, the album reached number three on the US Billboard 200, and has since been certified triple platinum, having sold 3.9 million copies in the US.

This album proved that Sade can wait as long as she damn pleases between albums and there will always be an audience waiting.

Soldier of Love (2010)

In the band's most recent body of work—and by "recent", I mean a decade ago—enters Soldier of Love. This album was their last, complete with a full 60-stop international tour. Soldier of Love has sold over three million copies and went to #1 in multiple countries. Entertainment Weekly featured Soldier of Love in their "Must List" and gave the album an "A", and Rolling Stone wrote "it's unimpeachably excellent."

The album went on to be nominated for multiple awards and gained various accolades. A high-performance work of art, in a world where we simply don't, and won't, know her next move. And I'm OK with that, ten years later.

But in the meantime, as we wait for what they have up their sleeves..."I'm a soldier of love. Every day and night."

Feature image courtesy of Sony Music/Sade

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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