She's still a smooth operator ... Sade in at No 6 on 2012 US money list

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Tour and greatest hits album sees Eighties star earn more than even golden girl Adele

Adele may be the toast of America with six Grammy awards and millions of sales, but the top-earning British musician across the Atlantic last year was, surprisingly, a soft jazz veteran of more than 25 years.

Sade raked in $16.4m last year after her first tour in North America for a decade and the release of The Ultimate Collection, eclipsing Adele, the only other Brit in the top 10, who earned $13.1m.

Taylor Swift topped the list, according to trade publication Billboard's calculations, with earnings of $35.7m. She was followed by Irish rockers U2 on $32.1m and another country star, Kenny Chesney, who earned $29.8m. Touring remained the biggest source of income for the top earners, although album sales saw Adele, The Beatles and Justin Bieber perform strongly.

Adele's earnings would have been boosted had she not been forced to cancel 10 sold-out US shows after undergoing throat surgery. Yet she broke records in the country as her album 21 spent 23 weeks at No 1, with album sales hitting 6.7 million.

Sade, the sixth-highest earner in the list, is the name of the singer and songwriter behind the four-piece band of the same name. Their career has spanned more than a quarter of a century during which time they have sold more than 23 million albums.

The jazz singer was born Helen Folsade Adu in Ibadan, Nigeria, and came to England at the age of four when her parents separated. She became a musician by chance, after friends approached her to sing while she was studying fashion.

She signed to Epic records, bringing three members of the band Pride with her, and had a top 10 hit with "Your Love Is King" in 1984, followed by her first album Diamond Life. In 2008, after a hiatus of seven years, the band reformed to put together a new album, Soldier of Love. It was released worldwide in 2010 and debuted in the US at the top of the Billboard 200. The band won a Grammy for best R&B performance at last year's ceremony, their fourth, and released The Ultimate Collection in May.

The tour, opened by John Legend, raised a total of $45.7m in revenue, with the group taking home $15.4m. On Billboard's top 40 music money-makers list, country singers had a particularly strong year with 11 artists. Taylor Swift's earnings came in at 17 per cent higher than the previous year's winner Lady Gaga. Last year Lady Gaga, who released Born This Way in May, dropped to fourth with $25.4m.

The cast of hit TV show Glee proved the 11th highest musical earners in the US last year, thanks to a popular tour. The 23 arena concerts brought in close to 266,000 fans, as album sales hit 2.1 million. The show also inspired the extraordinary revival of the band with the 12th-highest earnings, Journey, whose 1981 hit "Don't Stop Believin'" saw an extraordinary revival, going platinum in March. The band played 50 shows in the US last year and sold 703,000 albums.

The only Briton to make the top 10 the previous year was Paul McCartney, whose international tour saw him net $14.1m, although he was beaten by his old band The Beatles. Sales soared after their back catalogue was remastered and made available on iTunes, with 1.2 million albums downloaded and 4.7 million individual tracks sold. Total US sales were valued at $6.7m.

BIG IN AMERICA THE 2012 TOP 40

1. Taylor Swift: $35.7m
2. U2: $32.1m
3. Kenny Chesney: $29.8m
4. Lady Gaga: $25.4m
5. Lil Wayne: $23.2m
6. Sade $16.4m
7. Bon Jovi: $15.8m
8. Celine Dion: $14.3m
9. Jason Aldean: $13.4m
10. Adele: $13.1m
11. Glee cast: $12.6m
12. Journey: $12.3m
13. Elton John: $11.97m
14. Katy Perry: $11.96m
15. Toby Keith: $10.4m
16. Britney Spears: $10.1m
17. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band: $10m
18. Rascal Flatts: $9.6m
19. Tim McGraw: $9.3m
20. Michael Buble: $9m
21. Brad Paisley: $8.6m
22. Rihanna: $7.7m
23. Enrique Iglesias: $7.5m
24. The Beatles: $6.74m
25. Sir Paul McCartney: $6.72m
26. Lady Antebellum: $6.67m
27. Keith Urban: $6.57m
28. Zac Brown Band: $6.5m
29. Rod Stewart: $6.4m
30. Usher: $6.3m
31. Foo Fighters: $6m
32. Rush: $5.8m
33. Backstreet Boys: $5.7m
34. Sugarland: $5.6m
35. Justin Bieber: $5.5m
36. New Kids on the Block: $5.5m
37. Steely Dan: $5.38m
38. Motley Crue: $5.37m
39. Kanye West: $5.36m
40. Linkin Park: $5.2m

Source: Billboard

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