Most people think of Sade as the beautiful Nigerian born lady, but Sade is actually the whole band consisting of Stuart Matthewman (sax and guitar), Andrew Hale (keyboards), Paul Spencer Denman (bass) and Helen Folasade Adu (vocals).

Paul, Helen, Andrew & Stewart aka SADEIn the early 80's Sade Adu was performing as one of three vocalists in a promising jazz-funk collective known as Pride. In 1984, Sade re-emerged as lead singer and principal songwriter of the group bearing her name, accompanied by her former Pride cohorts Matthewman, Hale and Denman. The rest -- with around 50 million albums sold worldwide -- is history!

Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman released their first album as "Sweetback" in 1996. The album features guest vocalist from Leroy Osbourne, along with Maxwell and Amel Larrieux of The Groove Theory.

The Sweetback saga began in early 1994, at the end of Sade's "Love Deluxe" world tour. Stuart Matthewman returned to New York to build his own studio: He'd already begun recording and releasing a series of underground 12-inch singles under such names as Cottonbelly and Edge Test, records which were received enthusiastically in clubs from London to Los Angeles. In addition, Stuart co-wrote, produced and played on three tracks - "Welcome," "Whenever Wherever Whatever," and "Lonely's The Only Company" - from Maxwell's acclaimed debut album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite.

Meanwhile in London, Andrew Hale (through his company Deliverance) created soundscapes for fashion shows by such leading designers as Paul Smith and collaborated on his own music with Toshi and Kudo of noted Japanese production team Major Force. Not content with dressing himself as oddly as possible, Paul Denman attempted to get all of L.A. to do likewise by opening a boutique called Goddess in partnership with his wife.

As time passed and the Sweetback collaboration progressed, Stuart, Andrew and Paul continued to exchange DATs, engage in protracted late-night phone calls, and visit each other's home cities. Gradually their efforts brought together a diverse array of guest performers: Groove Theory vocalist Amel Larrieux, progressive r&b star Maxwell, Philly rap queen Bahamadia, and Sade cohort Leroy Osbourne, each of whom takes a step beyond their own established styles on Sweetback.

 

For Leroy Osbourne, Sweetback represents a long-awaited moment in the spotlight after nearly a decade as a crucial supporting vocalist for Sade, both on stage and record. His delicate and deeply moving rendition of the Bill Withers classic "Hope She'll Be Happier" is the first lead vocal performance on record from this gifted singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

No less affecting are the performances of Maxwell on "Softly Softly"; and Groove Theory's Amel Larrieux on two songs, the album opener "Gaze" and "You Will Rise." Check Andrew Hale's Fender Rhodes piano and Paul Denman's deep but restrained bass line beneath Amel's yearning lead and heavenly vocal arrangement.

On other tracks like "Chord," "Powder," and "Cloud People," Sweetback reverts to the richly atmospheric, purely instrumental album it was originally intended to be. There are echoes of trip-hop and fusion jazz, ambient dub and the natural world, all adding up to a music that's much more than the sum of its influences. Sweetback is urban soul music that shifts freely between styles and types and rhythms and beats, yet still comes across as fresh, urgent and essential every time. Their self-produced, self-titled debut album is music to chill, music for films, music to wind up your waist. It's global soul music with its own sense of purpose and identity.

Paul Denman

Andrew Hale

Stuart Matthewman

Stewart Matthewman also produced the 2000 Santessa album "Delirium" on the Disco Volante label. Mellow Trip-Hop with female vocals. 

The latest Sweetback album "Stage 2" was released 22. June 2004. Also out is the remix album by Stewart Matthewman aka Cottonbelly entitled "Cottonbelly: X Amounts of Niceness - The NYC Sessions 1993-2004". The album has been over ten years in the making and features remixes of Sade, Maxwell and Gregory Isaacs among others. [www.cottonbelly.com]

Sweetback: Sweetback
Epic - 1996

Sweetback 1996

01. Gaze
02. Softly Softly
03. Sensations
04. Au Natural
05. Arabesque
06. You Will Rise
07. Chord
08. Walk Of Ju
09. Hope She'll Be Happier
10. Come Dubbing
11. Cloud People
12. Powder

Santessa: Delirium
Disco Volante/Sony - 2000

Santessa

01. Phased
02. Sometimes
03. Eyes On You
04. Best Thing
05. Nightimes
06. Too Late
07. Irresistible
08. Space
09. I Be Me
10. Joy
11. Nowhere

Sweetback: Stage 2
Epic - 2004

Sweetback: Stage2

01. Voodoo Breath (Master's Love)
02. Lover
03. Circles
04. All My Days With You
05. Mountain
06. Things You'll Never Know
07. Blue Heights
08. Love Is The Word
09. Jesus Girl
10. Circus Waltz
11. Round And Round
12. Sing To Be Safe
13. Shining Hour

Hired help:
Leroy Osbourne is always the first to be contacted. The Londoner has provided lead backing vocals since the Promise tour in the mid-80's. He delivered that mesmerizing acappella introduction to the remix of "Never As Good As The First Time" and he co-wrote with Sade "I Never Thought I'd See The Day" for the album Stronger Than Pride. Additional line-up on the 1994 Deluxe tour; Pounding the drums was Trevor Murrell, and filling in the gaps with things that rattle and slap was percussionist Karl Vanden Bossche. Gordon Hunte played the guitar and Rick Braun played trumpet and assisted on backing vocals.

The line-up for the 2001 Lovers Live tour and the 2011 Soldier Of Love tour are the same; Ryan Waters (guitar), Karl Vanden Bossche (percussion), Pete Lewinson (drums), Leroy Osbourne (backing vocals), Tony Momrelle (backing vocals) and of course Stuart Matthewman (guitar, sax), Andrew Hale (keyboards), Paul Denman (bass) and Sade Adu on lead vocals.

Leroy Osbourne

Trevor Murell

Karl Vanden Bossche

Gordon Hunte

Rick Braun


Gunnar Homdrum 1999-2014