Rihanna might have kicked off her new tour in Baltimore first, but when Sade does it Thursday, it'll be a more momentous occasion in several ways.
The singer is notoriously reclusive. Between her 2000 album, "Lovers Rock," and her latest, "Soldier of Love," which was released last year, she's been off the grid. This tour will be her first in nearly a decade.
In addition to the tour and the new album, a new greatest-hits package was also released this year that includes three tracks never released before.
One of the most distinctive voices of the past 20 years, the singer, whose name is typically conflated with her band's, started her career around the same time as Madonna.
Over time, she made a name for herself with sultry, sophisticated songs — "The Sweetest Taboo," "Cherish the Day" — that eventually became mainstays on adult contemporary radio.
Sade typically waits years to release new material. But her retitence has made her all the more alluring. At a time when the only female pop stars who can sell records are under 30, Sade, who is 52, saw her newest album go platinum after spending three weeks atop the Billboard 200 albums chart.
As surprising as it seems, she's still one of the most most commercially successful British artists in the U.S. All of her six studio albums have been in the top 10 on the Billboard 200.
The span of her career is on full display in the 29 tracks of "The Ultimate Collection," her second greatest-hits package, following 1994's "Best Of."
While on tour in Europe, she's kept a varied set list, typically kicking off with "Soldier of Love" and ending with 1993's "Cherish the Day."
But Americans will have an added attraction: pianist/singer John Legend will open for her on this tour.
Sade performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Tickets start at $51.50. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.