Associated Press

NEW YORK — Sade Adu may have appeared confident when she hit the stage on her massive U.S. tour last year in her all-black ensemble, svelte look, high heels and red lips.

But the 53-year-old singer was nervous. So nervous, she gave someone backstage a tattoo.

“It was giving me something to divert me from the chaos of getting ready psychologically to go out there,” Adu said in a recent interview. “I think I was more stressed about giving that tattoo than I was (doing) the show that night.”

But Adu had reason to feel anxious: As the leader of the veteran group Sade, she and her band mates were riding high off their platinum-selling 2010 album, Soldier of Love, their first release in 10 years. Sade won a Grammy a year later, and embarked on a 54-date U.S. tour.

The moment Adu gave that tattoo — and many other moments — are captured in the newly released DVD, Bring Me Home — Live 2011.

Adu talks about the tour, maintaining her youthful look and when the group plans to release new music.

AP: You were really that stressed backstage?

Adu: I was so stressed. … That impression that you give onstage is what people go away with … and remember you, and I feel in a way that’s what that tattoo was. I was going to mark him for life. I had to get it right.

AP: Have you done more tattoos?

Adu: That was my big tattoo moment.

AP: How have you maintained your voice over the years?

Adu: I’ve never been great with keeping up with vocal exercises. For 28 years I’ve been saying, ‘Tomorrow I must do some scales.’ But I haven’t done them yet. I think just being onstage and performing, you learn technique just by being there and having to deliver. You unconsciously learn technique just to survive those two hours.

AP: What was it like performing for your feverish fans after being away for so long?

Adu: That’s why you sort of feel like you’re a gladiator going out there because even though you know most of these people have come from a good place and they love your music and they come with a feeling of love, which is what you walk away with, it’s a bit like being thrown at the lions when you go out there because you have this sort of fear, even though it’s irrational, (that) you’re going to get torn apart, so you go out and you have to be good.


Photo: Sade