She was born in Nigeria as Helen Folasade Abu, brought up in England as a British citizen, and came to be known professionally as Sade Abu, or just simply Sade. Her 1984 album Diamond Life was a multiplatinum hit, the best-selling debut album of all time by a British female vocalist. Her song “Smooth Operator” is one of those iconic hit singles from the Eighties, instantly evoking the decade, yet remaining fresh. Some of her other songs, “The Sweetest Taboo,” “Is It A Crime,” and “Tar Baby,” were so popular that Top 40 radio played the tracks even though they were never actually released as singles.
Sade (pronounced shah DAY) has had a considerable influence on other singers, and yet her vocal style is difficult to classify. The husky quality of her contralto voice has evoked comparisons to Billie Holiday.
Another singer, well known in San Miguel, is Alzenira Quezada, who goes by the stage name of Lady Zen. Born in Brazil, she was plucked from an orphanage by Christian missionaries, and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as Sheri Joy Glick. By the time she was learning to speak, Sheri Glick was the star vocal attraction at the Church of the Nazarene, singing at tent revivals, church concerts, and county fairs all over the South, winning over sixty vocal competitions in the process. By age 17, she was studying opera on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Arkansas. That year, she discovered Billie Holiday, and her operatic ambitions were set aside.
Because Lady Zen is a jazz, blues, and pop singer with the vocal power and range of an operatic mezzo soprano, her voice is also difficult to categorize, but the sheer force of her performances, and her unerring stage presence, have consistently made her one of the hottest tickets in San Miguel, and also in Puerto Vallarta, where she frequently performs. Last year, Lady Zen gave tribute concerts at the San Miguel Playhouse featuring the songs of Bessie Smith and K.D. Lang, and both concerts sold out rapidly.
Lady Zen Sings Sade will be presented in two performances only, with a top-flight backing band. The performance dates are Thursday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day), and Friday, February 15, at 7pm, at the San Miguel Playhouse. Reserved-seat tickets are 400 pesos for the center section, and 300 for the side sections. If you prefer not to purchase tickets online, you can buy printed tickets Mondays through Saturdays, between 11am and 5pm, at Boleto City, the ticket desk on the second floor of the Mercado Sano (Ancha de San Antonio 123).
The San Miguel Playhouse is located at Avenida Independencia 82, and features secured free parking and taxi concierge service.