Sade at work on first album in nine years

British singer Sade looks out at the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in this file photo dated July 27, 2001. REUTERS/Ethan Miller

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Sade Adu, the reclusive “quiet storm” soul signer who takes notoriously long breaks between releases, has regrouped with the band that bears her name and is recording her first album of new material since 2000’s “Lovers Rock,” sources confirmed.

The group is in the studio through June. Sony has not set a release date but hopes to put the record out by the end of 2009.

“She is in the studio and the album will come when it is ready,” a source at Sony told Billboard. “You don’t wait for years for one and then rush it.”

Sade’s longtime bandmate Stuart Matthewman, a.k.a. Cottonbelly, also confirmed that new material is in the works, but he said the project is still in its “early days” and won’t be close to finished until “later in the year.”

Last week, rumors of a new Sade album surfaced when the official-looking website went live with a message claiming a release date of November 24 for a new album. The source at Sade’s label denied any connection to that site. “We do not know where that fan site could have got that release date from, but it is 100 percent not true.”

Billboard contacted the site’s owner, who insisted that the release date was “official.” Since his response, however, the site’s posting has been updated with a correction: “The date above has been changed, a representative from Sony confirmed the new date to be unknown. Please check back for the update on Sade’s album release.”

No details about Sade’s new music have yet been revealed, but one artist may already have heard snippets: Maxwell, a fellow Sony recording artist and longtime friend and collaborator with Matthewman, who will soon release a new record of his own after a multiyear hiatus. The R&B singer sent a message to fans in March via his private Facebook page in which he indicated that he’d heard some of his labelmate’s new recordings. “Trust me, it’s so monolithic it’ll shake you in your shoes!” he wrote.

Sade’s 2000 release, “Lovers Rock,” sold 3.9 million copies in the U.S., and her previous album, 1992’s “Love Deluxe,” sold 3.4 million. Since her 1985 debut, “Diamond Life,” Sade has sold nearly 17 million units in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen SoundScan.