Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born on May 5, 1988 in the working-class London neighbourhood of Tottenham. As an only child, her father (Mark Evans) was a plumber and her mother (Penny Adkins) was a masseuse and furniture manufacturer. Only three years after Adele’s birth, her mother separated from her father, who was an alcoholic. She lived with her mother all her childhood. The latter, having a very varied musical culture, plunges Adele very quickly into music… She will remain marked by the Spice Girls and will say that it is thanks to them that Adele has become what she is today. Other artists will have also marked it: the band The Cure, Billy Bragg… She has been singing since the age of four. At the age of 14, in the local record store, she discovered Etta James and was stunned by the singer’s look on the album cover. Intrigued, she begins to listen to him “for an hour every night” to discover “her own voice”. A few years later, she confided:
As soon as I had a microphone in my hand, when I was 14, I realized that I wanted to do this (singing). Most people don’t like the way their voice sounds when recorded. But I was so excited that I didn’t pay much attention to what my voice looked like.
Adele joins the prestigious school known as The Brit School. This art school is intended to provide education and vocational training for the performing arts, media, art, design and performing technologies. Jessie J. and Leona Lewis were trained at the same time as Adele at this school.
For her study project, Adele recorded a demo of three tracks: Hometown Glory, Daydreamer and My Same. One of her friends then posted it on the social network MySpace. It was then that she received a call from the label XL Recordings, which would become her label until 2016. Adele is suspicious because at that time, she only knew Virgin Radio. However, she agreed to meet the XL Recordings label and met Jonathan Dickins, who would later become her manager. She signed in 2006.
Barely signed to Xl Recordings, she recorded voices for the song My Yvonne by Jack Pesate. During the recording session, she met Jim Abiss, who would become the producer of almost all of the tracks on album 19 and two songs from album 21. She released the song Hometown Glory on October 2007: the very first song she wrote at the age of 16. On January 14, 2008, her first album 19 was released. 19 is the age she was when she wrote most of the songs. Two weeks ago, the second single Chasing Pavements was released. The album was a huge success when it was released in the UK, ranking first in the top of the charts. The encyclopedia of modern music The Times calls 19 as an “essential” Blue-eye-soul record.
Adele signed to Columbia Records to export to the United States. She’s starting a mini-promotional tour. 19 is released in June in the United States. The American music magazine, Billboard, reports:
Adele clearly has the potential to become one of the most respected and inspiring great artists of her generation.
Adele then went on tour: An Evening With Adele. She will make about thirty dates in Europe and about fifty dates in the United States. However, wanting to stay with her former boyfriend, she canceled the tour. She confesses to Nylon magazine:
I was drinking way too much. It was the basis of our relationship, actually. I couldn’t bear to be away from him. So I thought ‘well I’m going to cancel everything then’. I can’t believe I did this… It’s so ungrateful.
In October 2008, her attempt to conquer the United States appeared to be a failure. It was thanks to The Saturday Night Live that she became known for good in the United States. In the middle of the presidential period, Sarah Palin, then a candidate for vice president of the United States, is scheduled to participate in this program. But after a fight, she finds herself programmed at the same time as Adele. The show will bring together 17 million viewers, thus providing a significant visibility for Adele. She sang Chasing Pavements and Cold Shoulder. The next day, 19 found itself propelled to the top of Itunes sales. 7 years later, on the Adele At The BBC special, she will talk about this moment by saying that she was there in the right place at the right time.
In the end, 19 copies are sold worldwide.
At the end of 2010, the very powerful Rolling In The Deep was released. This single will mark Adele’s rise to the rank of global star. On January 24, 2011, Adele was released in the United Kingdom on 24 January 2011 and on 22 February in the Us. For the name, Adele remains in the same idea as for the predecessor even though, in the first place, she had seen Rolling In The Deep as her name. Adele says the album was released after a very difficult romantic breakup with her former boyfriend. She’ll never divulge her identity.
The sounds of this album are totally different compared to 19. Adele explains that this is mainly due to her driver she had in the United States during the Adele At The Evening tour. He listened mainly to contemporary music. Adele describes the sound of this album as having classical, contemporary and country roots. In the first week of operation, 21 was a success: more than 200,000 sales in the UK and more than 350,000 sales in the United States. In total, 21 will top sales in 26 countries.
Adele became a worldwide star during her performance at the Brits Awards, a musical ceremony that recognizes English and international artists. She performed Someone Like You, which became the second single on the album. The impact was such that album 19 reclassified to the top 5 of the Official Albums Chart (uk-based ranking) where 21 was already there. Someone Like You and Rolling In The Deep, meanwhile, are in the top 5 of the Official Singles Chart (also established in the UK). Adele became the first artist to simultaneously have two albums and two singles on the English charts since the Beatles in 1964. 19 and 21 ranked second and first in the UK charts respectively, making Adele the first artist since The Corr to have two albums occupying the top two spots in the UK. In December 2011, 21 sold 3.1 million copies in the UK, surpassing Amy Winehouse and her album Back To Black. At the same time, Adele became the first artist to sell more than 3 million albums in a year in the UK.
To promote the album, Adele toured Europe and the United States. The tour is called Adele Live. She wants to be resolutely sober without great technical achievements. Most venues have a capacity of 1,000 seats, with the exception of the concert it will give at the Royal Albert Hall where more than 8,000 people have seen it. However, in October 2011, Adele had to cancel the rest of the tour due to a vocal cord haemorrhage that required surgery. She explains that she must have some rest to prevent her from losing her voice. In November 2011, she released the DVD of the concert recorded at the Royal Albert Hall a month before the tour ended. The DVD will become the best-selling DVD of 2011.
After a long silence necessary for her recovery, Adele returns to the stage of the Grammy Awards, an American musical ceremony that rewards artists in many categories. She sings Rolling In The Deep, starting in acapella, showing that she has lost none of her voice. Nominated in 6 categories, including 3 most prestigious categories (i.e. album of the year, song of the year and recording of the year), she won all 6 awards. Adele becomes, after Beyoncé, the second artist to win so many Grammys in a single night.
In 2012, the 4.5 million copies sold in the United Kingdom were crossed, as well as the 10 million copies in the United States. On April 3, 2012, she confirmed that there would be a third album but that it would take time:
I have to take some time and I have to live a little too. There were two years between my first two albums, so it will be the same for the third.
At present, 21 has sold more than 30 million copies, a record in a world illegal download.
On October 1, 2012, Adele confirmed that she was recording the soundtrack to the film of the same name Skyfall. Adele will confess:
Recording Skyfall is one of those moments I’m most proud of.
Skyfall was an immediate success as soon as it was released, entering second place on the UK charts with more than 92,000 copies sold. In three days, 261,000 copies were sold in the United States. At the end of 2012, Adele received the title of Artist of the Year for the second time in a row and 21 received the title of album of the year, both awarded by Billboard magazine. She became the first artist to obtain these titles twice in a row.
In January 2013, there were rumours that Adele had returned to the studios. On January 13, 2013, Adele made an appearance at the Golden Globes and won the award for best original song with Skyfall. On February 10, 2013, she won a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance with Set Fire To The Rain’s live performance at the Royal Albert Hall. On February 24, Adele attends the Oscars. She sang Skyfall and won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
In December 2013, Adele made her first public appearance since the Oscars: she was made a member of the Order of the Birtannique Empire. This award rewards “her services for music”, her talent and her career without a hitch. Then Adele disappears from the radar. She returned to the studios in 2014. Adele composed a few songs but rejected them, following the advice of her producer and friend Rick Rubin. The latter is adamant that this is not good. She will tell:
Honestly? I was waiting for someone to react like that. So I went back to my boards and worked hard.
On August 27, 2015, the American music magazine Billboard announced that the label XL Recordings plans to release Adele’s album in the fall. Rumors have it that Danger Mouse and Tobbias Jesso Jr. each wrote a song for the album. In early September, Sia revealed that her song Alive was originally planned for Adele, but Adele did not accept it. On October 18, 2015, Adele made her big comeback: at 9:30 p.m., 30 seconds were broadcast on British television during the commercials of the show X Factor. Lyrics, a black background and a voice:
Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet, to go over everything. They said that time’s supposed to heal ya but I ain’t done much healing…
Adele has just announced her big comeback. On October 22, 2015, she published an open letter on her social networks explaining that she apologized for the time it took her to make this album and told the genesis and history of the album. On October 23, 2015, Adele unveiled the track Hello as well as the visual of the album 25, which is scheduled for release on November 20, 2015. The music video for Hello, directed by the well-known Canadian Xavier Dolan, met with immediate success as soon as it was released.
On November 20, 2015, Adele released her third album 25. It quickly met with great success despite a press that remains dubious (justifying that this record looks too much like … Adele!).
In an interview with James Corden, Adele reveals that 25 will be her last album nominated by a number. On January 18, 2016, she set a new world record: the music video Hello, directed by Xavier Dolan, crossed the one billion views mark in 88 days, a record previously held by Psy and his famous Gangnam Style which had reached one billion in 160 days.
Adele begins her 2016 Adele Live tour of 105 dates. They will all be sold out in a matter of minutes. In the United States, almost 10 million people tried to buy tickets! The first part of the european tour won more than $130 million.
On Saturday, June 25, 2016, Adele reached a new milestone in Adventure 25: she performed in front of more than 160,000 people during the Glastonbury Festival. Adele, in a similar event with 160,000 people, comes out bigger and declares “It was the best night of my life” on her Instagram (@Adele).
On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Adele’s third album, 25, was officially declared a diamond record in the United States: more than 10 million copies were sold in less than a year. Many experts are quick to praise this achievement: in a record industry in crisis ravaged by illegal downloading, Adele resists. Her sophomore album 21 is also a diamond record, but it took over two years to get this achievement.
Adele returns to the roads in February 2017 in Oceania. This new tour, soberly called Adele Live 2017, takes place in stadiums with an average capacity of approximatively 90,000 spectators. To conclude this year and a half of touring, Adele offers four dates at Wembley Stadium in London. After two performances, Adele was forced to cancel the last two concerts due to a vocal cord problem. Tickets have been refunded and Adele has gone on a break…
Since 2017, Adele has retired from the music world to take full advantage of her break and her private life.