As one of the latest additions to the BET Music Matters roster, Sade Serena has a bright future ahead of her, one that's already in motion given her latest project and a show-stopping performance during the showcase at S.O.B.'s earlier this month.
"I was in the middle of putting together my EP, GermiNation, [when] I got called that I would be doing the [Music Matters] showcase," she explained. "Within this short time, it has been a really great response. I've gotten a lot of following, a lot of support from New York."
The Miami resident said it's been a dream come true that she's been working on since she was a teenager. "I was in a group. [We did] background song and dance for local acts [like] Pretty Ricky. I toured with them for almost a year. I did Late Night Special and [the] Scream V tour. That was my first dose of it." That experience lit a spark. "I got hungry for it. I was still in high school at the time… I started performing in lobbies and lounges in South Beach — just getting my feet wet as a solo artist. I was 16," said the former show choir member, adding that she thought of herself as "a geek" in school.
Sade's come a long way since, inking a deal with Island Def Jam and bowing at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot New Singles chart with her song, "Tonight." Her sultry swag and powerful voice bring frequent comparisons to Rihanna. "I'm flattered by it," she said. "... I appreciate it because I have followed her since the beginning of her career and I respect her as an artist. It's a good feeling to get compared to someone as big as her. I respect her and I love her music, but I'm definitely bringing something different."
GermiNation features a diverse mix of hip hop, R&B, soul, reggae and dance; making it impossible to box Sade's sound into any one category. She credits the sound to the instant chemistry with producer John FX. "I recorded a lot of great music before John FX, but when I met him this year — we did a record with him called 'Stranger' ... this was the first record I ever did with him — there's something called 'magic' in this industry. It was the perfect timing. His sound was exactly what I was looking for."
The duo hasn't looked back since. "[The EP] did exactly what it was supposed to do. It broke boundaries. It wasn't safe… John brought a lot of consciousness to the process. As an artist, I had to take inventory working with him."
The title is "a reference to the process of growth from a seed or what have you," she continued. "Just this year alone, I feel like this project has caused this growth in me. Not just as an artist, but as a person."
Sade's parents emigrated from Jamaica to Miami, where she collected her bouquet of musical influences. "I'm a little bit music ADD," she said. "I say that because I love so many genres and I feel like I can sing anything ... I don't really listen to radio a lot. But when I do, I have become infatuated with Lorde, Lana del Rey and even Jay Z — I'm not a rapper, but I've followed Jay for so long and I respect him so much at this point. He's so on his game as far as lyrics and music. He has never put out any garbage."
As far as what's next for her career, Sade says she hopes to meet the standard that Jay and others have set. "Jay and Diddy are people I look up to as far as their longevity in the industry. Not only that, I love his wife Beyoncé. I know it's cliché, but she was a great influence. Her confidence and aura are just phenomenal."
The seven-track EP GermiNation is available now, having hit digital shelves just last week (April 15).
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(Photo: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET)