One of the things I loved about Sade Pendavis is that, even though I’d written about her more than once, she had no idea who I was and would always greet me with “What was the name again?”
Normally that kind of thing would make me crazy, but since so many downtown performers delightfully crawl so far up my butt they come out the other side, it was kind of refreshing (and humbling) to find someone who didn’t give a shit.
She was real. And she was polite about it.
But the best thing about Sade was the voice, which gave me chills. And the presence, which added to them.
She would perform with Joey Arias and Raven Oh at the Village speakeasy Bardot in the ’90s, and at the Bardot reunions at Indochine until very recently.
And she would wail it out, like a potent mix of Ethel Waters and Gladys Knight.
Her songs weren’t always the best — she’d sometimes do weird album cuts from unexpected artists — but that was part of her charm, too.
It wasn’t cookie-cutter.
And she’d belt the shit out of them, turning them into three-act operas by sheer force of conviction.
When she clicked with a crowd, it was magical — a soul goddess turning a trendy restaurant into a Harlem ballroom.
She sang, she sweated, we cheered, we wept.
Sade was known from Paris Is Burning, the Wigstock festival, and a Johnny Dynell record, among other credits.
She may not have known who I am, but I knew who she was.
And I’m sorry to report that she’s died.
Strangely, no one online will give any details, even when I ask, but whatever the case, she’s singing in the Soul Train in the sky.