For my final DJ Mixtable I would like to share one of the most ( in my opinion) powerful songs ever written by Sade. In Pearls, Sade tells the story of a mother in Somalia who struggles to survive and raise her children. What is beautiful about this song is the way in which the pain this woman faces is compared to “brand new shoes”. Sade sings:

There is a woman in Somalia
The sun gives her no mercy
The same sky we lay under
Burns her to the bone
Longest afternoon shadow
It’s gonna take her to get home
Each grain carefully wrapped up
Pearls for her little girl

Hallelujah
Hallelujah

She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives in a world she didn’t choose
And it hurts like brand new shoes
Hurts like brand new shoes

To compare this woman’s struggle to the pain of “brand new shoes” ultimately reveals there is no real comparison. It is ironic and Sade is illustrating that the western woman cannot truly fathom what the woman in Somali experiences everyday. She is illustrating that we have different standards, different ways of measuring pain. This is beautiful because it speaks to what anthropologist call “Cultural relativism”, the idea that circumstances from different places/cultures must be measured based on the standards of that culture rather than our own to fully understand culturally specific situations. This is what Sade’s lyrics are showing, a Western Woman who comes from privilege cannot fully understand the struggles of the woman in somalia because their standards are different. Their worlds are different and pain means different things to both women. I believe that songs such as these reveal to us how music can serve as a source of power for artists to tell the important unheard stories in creative ways. Sade is one of those artist who uses her music to transport audiences into a different world. She challenges their thinking through comparisons such as the one mentioned above. And at the same time she is a woman that takes pride in her sensuality and takes control of it rather than allowing herself to be objectified in the music industry.

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