Sade's debut album, Diamond Life, had already been out in England for more than six months when it finally and officially arrived in America on February 27, 1985.
The album was highly anticipated by industry insiders, as it was the result of a bidding war between labels that was finally won by Epic Records. It was well worth the effort, as the album was a breakout smash that established the band and its singer, Sade Adu, as global superstars.
Loaded with hits, Diamond Life introduced the world to such hit singles as "Smooth Operator," which would peak at #5 on the Hot 100 over the week of May 15, 1985.
While her music transcended genres, Sade was pigeonholed as "black music" in America, which the bi-racial singer found confining.
“I don’t like segregation,” she told SPIN in 1985. “Music is something which should be available to all people. When you go into a club there is no color bar on the dance floor, so why should it apply to radio stations? Unfortunately it does. It does not only apply to black and white, it also applies to heavy metal, pop, all that. It’s such a big place with such big corporations everywhere that in order to feel safe they have to categorize things.”
“I’ve always listened to black music because I like the sound of the black voice, so it wouldn’t be bad to be successful in the same place I have always loved," the singer added. "But I usually figure if something is good enough people find it anyway, and you’re gonna get the exposure and ultimately spread. The only reason people picked up on us in the first place was because we had an audience.”
Diamond Life would reach #5 on the Billboard album charts for the first week of June 1985. The #1 album in America that week: Prince's Around the World in a Day.
Sade's profile would get even higher over the summer of 1985 when the band would perform at the massive Live Aid concert. Their performance would be a highlight of the day, and cement the singer's status as not just a vocal powerhouse, but also a fashion icon.