A rising town girl turned multiple Grammy Award winner, Adele had a passion for singing from the very start. Although none of her relatives were into music, she worked hard to make history in her humble family. The mother of one has since then released three albums that have become an international success. Her stadium-filling voice has made her become a standout rival to renowned female artists such as Beyoncé and Madonna. We've already seen the former Brit school star's incredible capabilities, from her killer vocals to her great personality, yet we can't wait to see what the future holds for her.
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born in Tottenham, London. Her mother Penny Adkins is English while her father Marc Evans is Welsh. Penny was an arty mom and bore Adele when she was only 18-years old. However, her parents separated when Adele was three, leaving her mother with the sole responsibility of bringing up her only child and daughter. Although Evans was no longer present in their home, he was in consistent contact with his daughter until she was a teenager. When Adele reached her teens, their father-daughter relationship began to deteriorate due to her dad’s habitual drinking and estrangement from Adele. Penny remained very close to her daughter and to this day Adele recalls her mother’s encouragement to pursue her passion.
Bringing up Adele alone wasn’t easy for her mother. Penny had to relocate from Tottenham in search of a better life for her daughter. They first moved to Brighton where she had secured a job as a furniture maker as well as an organizer for adult learning activities. They, however, moved back to London after two years where they settled in Brixton before shifting to West Norwood. Growing up in West Norwood was a great experience for Adele that saw the district become the subject of her first hit single ‘Hometown Glory‘.
Although there was no musical history among Adele’s family members, she developed a passion for music when she was just four years old. She reveals to have spent most of her childhood years singing instead of reading, with the Grammy Award winner claiming the last book she read was ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl when she was six-years old.
Her obsession for music had seen her convert her bedroom into a mini theater. She would give little concerts in the room where her mother and her friends were honored to be the audience. At one time, her arty mother made her an eye patch attire to help impersonate English singer-songwriter Gabriella. Even then, her mother still encouraged her to go to university and pursue a career in the arts. Though unwillingly, she was enrolled in the BRIT school for Performing Arts and Technology where she graduated in May 2006. It’s at the BRIT school that she met other notable figures like Leona Lewis and Jessie J, with them all being classmates. After graduation, she was not only happy that BRIT helped nurture her career, but that she became one of the BRIT alumni among the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, and The Feeling.
The budding singer’s musical career all started after graduating from the BRIT school. Four months after finishing at the arts school, she recorded a demo song for her class project and had it published on her Myspace page. The demo was quite a success, and she soon received a call from Richard Russell the CEO at XL Recordings. She signed a contract with them, and Jonathan Dickens became her manager and representative. When at XL, she provided vocals for the song ‘My Yvonne’ by Jack Penate. It is here that she met Jim Abbiss, a producer who she has worked with ever since and helped her produce her first two albums ’19’ and ’21’. Adele was also honored to make her television debut in June 2007 when she performed ‘Daydreamer’ on BBC.
Although a bright career had already kicked off after signing the contract with XL Recordings, she was yet to achieve a title like the other big names in the industry. Her musical advances came alive after releasing her song ‘Hometown Glory’ in October 2007. The song was all about her hometown West Norwood, the city she lived in her teen years. Then came her debut album ’19’, being named after the singer’s age at the time. The album propelled her to fame especially with the breakthrough song ‘Hometown Glory’. Her second lead song, ‘Chasing Pavements‘ was released on January 14 2008. The song further projected her success as it was ranked second in the UK Charts and remained there for four weeks. The album’s success was evident after Adele was nominated for the Mercury prize in 2008 and the Q Awards for being the Best Breakthrough Act. She also received an Urban Music Award courtesy of Best Jazz Act.
The awards were a breakthrough into her then-young career. To spread her popularity, she embarked on a North American tour. The tour commenced after she signed a contract with Columbia Records and XL Recordings who released her album in the US in June 2008. Unfortunately, her US tour was short lived as she canceled most of the dates to be with her former boyfriend. She also happened to be drinking a lot around that time and seemed to neglect the main reason as to why she was in the US. Nevertheless, she returned to her determined self once again after performing on Saturday Night Live which was attended by thousands of Americans, among them Sarah Palin, the then US vice-presidential candidate. It was after the show that the album hit number 11 on the Billboard Charts. Later that year, she moved back to Notting Hill, London and gave up drinking after leaving her mother’s house.
In 2009, the debut album had sold more than 2.2 million copies worldwide. The Grammy Awards that year were also a remarkable aspect for the diva after grabbing the Best New Artist award, as well as being named the sound of 2008 by BBC. Her song ‘Chasing Pavements’ won her the Best Female Pop Vocal Award and was also nominated for the Song of the Year category. Later in the year, she received another prize from Critic’s Choice during the BRIT Awards. The album’s success was not just for Adele, since the entire United Kingdom celebrated it with her. Reliable sources reported that Gordon Brown, the then prime minister, sent Adele a thank you note for propelling the country to fame despite the financial problems the nation was going through.
In January 2011, she released her second album ’21’ in the UK and the US in February of the same year. The album title was again inspired by her age just like the previous one. She revealed that the breakup with her former boyfriend inspired her in writing the album. Unlike the first album, ’21’ was filled with much more classic and contemporary music with a country influence. She gives credit to her bus driver back in Nashville during her tour in South America as he loved the country genre. Little did she know it would be an inspiration for her second album.
The appreciation of this second album was massive; it sold more than 350,000 copies in the first week of release. Her first and second singles ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and ‘Someone like You’ ranked top 5 in the UK single charts. This milestone saw her become one of few artists to achieve such success alongside the likes of The Beatles. She went on to break another record held by Madonna for topping the album charts for 11 consecutive weeks. By the time 2011 ended, the album had sold 3.4 million copies in the UK, seeing Adele overtake other hits like Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’. The achievement made Adele become the first artist to sell more than 3 million album copies across the UK in a single calendar year. Ultimately, ’21’ sold more than 30 million copies across the globe. The artist embarked on ‘Adele Live Tour’ with the aim of further promoting her album. The tour was initially a success, but she was forced to cancel the tour in October 2011 after having complications with her vocal cords. She had microsurgery in Boston to get her vocal cords working again, and made a comeback during the 2012 Grammy Awards.
In 2012, she took home six wins from the Grammy Awards, and this included the prize for the Album of the Year. She made history for becoming the second artist after Beyonce to win in so many categories on a single night. The following year, her hit song ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ won her the seventh Grammy Award for being the Best Pop Solo Performance. Following the success, she composed the theme song ‘Skyfall’ for the 2012 James Bond film. The track eventually won her an Oscar Award but she didn’t promote it herself as she was pregnant at the time.
In 2015, she launched the album ’25’. Through a message to her fans on Instagram, she said that though her previous album was all about break-ups the third one would be about make-ups. She started off by releasing the hit single ‘Hello’. The single was a huge hit and was immediately ranked first position in the UK charts and No. 1 on Billboard pop charts. In just the first week, the album had sold 333,000 copies. She also made a record for having the single reach more than one million downloads in a single week. The hit single immediately became her fourth chart-topper, and it remained at the first position for several weeks in the UK charts. The album, which was released in November 2015, consisted of a collection of emotional songs looking into the ins and outs of relationships. Among the hit singles in the album are ‘When We Were Young‘ which is a reflection and meditation of her growing older, and ‘Send My Love (To your new lover)’. The album’s sound much more of a traditional pop style, and that probably explains the massive success globally. Since its release, the album has been ranked number one in iTunes across 110 countries.
So far, ’25’ seems to be her best-selling album of all time with 19 billion copies already sold worldwide. In fact, 3.38 million copies were sold in the US within the first week of the album’s release while a million copies were purchased in the UK in just ten days. In May 2016, she left her previous recording company, XL Recordings and signed a supposedly £90 million deal with Sony.
Unlike many artists, Adele has managed to control her public image and therefore won most of her fan’s hearts. To the public, she is seen as a fun, gobby, bolshie and loud artist. As she has been around for almost a decade now, she clearly understands the importance of maintaining her professionalism to manipulate the music industry the right way.
Adele certainly has the heart for charity. She has performed in various charity concerts with all the donations directed to people with diverse needs in society. She also works to ensure that everyone is given equal opportunities and better lives for the underprivileged. As a political supporter of the Labour party, she advocated for reduced tax rates for the high-income earners in May 2011. Adele confesses to being a feminist and strives to see that women are given better opportunities in the society. She also advocates for fair treatment for all, despite one’s sexuality or race. That explains the reason she dedicated her show in Belgium on June 12 2016 to all the victims who perished during the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando. Adele is also an ardent supporter of Football. Although she has lived in many cities and countries, she has faithfully remained a great fan of the Tottenham Hotspur football club.
Adele’s personal life has managed to be out of the public sphere apart from the obvious episodes that never miss the attention of her keen fans. In January 2012, rumors had it that she was dating charity entrepreneur Simon Konecki after meeting him in 2011. To confirm the truth of the speculations, Adele announced that she together with Konecki was expecting a baby. Their son was then born on October 19 2012.
In an interview with People magazine, she expressed her anticipation for being a mother and how she couldn’t wait to become one. She further wished to have three baby boys before she hit 30 years. Adele has since then revealed to have felt complete after giving birth to her son, Angelo. Adele with Konecki, however, sued a UK based photo agency for publishing images of their child against their will. The two were paid on damages following the privacy case.
Written by: Peris Ngaruiya