Press release for immediate distribution


Winner of the 2011 Ella Fitzgerald Award

Montreal, Friday, July 1, 2011 - The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is glad to present the Ella Fitzgerald Award to Helen Folasade Adu, the singer of the band Sade, for her extraordinary contribution to contemporary jazz vocals. The Award was presented by Alain Simard, president and founder of the Festival, and André Ménard, artistic director and cofounder, to coincide with the concert she and her group performed last night in the Centre Bell.

The singer of the band Sade is the 13th winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Award. The Festival created the award for its 20th anniversary in 1999, annually conferring it upon a jazz singer of significant talent who has had a major impact and influence in the international scene.

Helen Folasade Adu was the female face of the ’80s, with her subtle elegance, her gently grooved melodies, her sophisticated exoticism-and she enjoyed phenomenal global success. The British-Nigerian singer was not headed for a career in music; she had studied fashion in order to become a men’s stylist and designed and also led a brief career as a model before giving in to the demands of friends in need of a singer for their group. The massive hits Smooth Operator and Hang On To Your Love propelled them into big leagues. The entire record industry courted her, but she ended up signing with Epic Records, with the three musicians who still make up her group (Stuart Matthewman, Paul Denman and Andrew Hale).

Fifty-five million albums sold worldwide, numerous Grammys and 25 years later, Sade launched a highly-awaited 6th album in 2010: Soldier of Love-their most ambitious to date, according to the singer-raced up the charts and was very warmly received in the pages of Rolling Stone, Billboard and Entertainment Weekly. It’s been a 10‑year wait (since Lovers Rock, the multiplatinum album released in 2000), justified by the fact that the singer-songwriter refused to release new material until she had something to say.

This year, the artist and her group made their re-entrance to the international stage, presenting the best-known songs from their repertoire, marrying pop, jazz and soul, as well as songs from their latest album in concert at the Centre Bell on Thursday, June 30, 7:30 p.m. (opening act: John Legend). Presented in collaboration with Live Nation and Evenko.

In accepting the prize, Sade follows previous Ella Fitzgerald prizewinners The Manhattan Transfer (2010), John Pizzarelli (2009), Aretha Franklin (2008), Harry Connick, Jr., (2007), Etta James (2006), Al Jarreau (2005) Tony Bennett (2004), Bobby McFerrin (2003), Dianne Reeves (2002), Diana Krall (2001), Dee Dee Bridgewater (2000) and Diane Schuur (1999).

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