Adele is one of the UK’s best-selling singer/songwriters and having taken some time away from the music industry after the birth of her first child, Angelo, she is now working on her third album. But where did it all start?
Her full name is Adele Laurie Blue Adkins and she was born to single mother Penny Adkins on 5 May 1988 in Tottenham, North London. She is estranged from her Welsh father Mark Evans. She started singing at the age of four years and has stated the Spice Girls heavily influenced her decision to start.
Talking about her unmusical family, Adele has said, 'It all comes from impersonating The Spice Girls and Gabrielle.' She used to give little concerts in her room for her mother and her friends. As her mother was quite arty, she helped a young Adele impersonate Gabrielle by making an eye patch for her to wear. At the age of 11, the family moved to Brighton but returned to Brixton where Adele remembers watching Pink in concert.
It was only when a record producer friend of her father asked a teenage Adele to sing a cover of Heart of Glass after hearing her 'wicked' voice did she realise her calling as a musician. She went to secondary school in West Norwood and it was here that she came across R&B singers, such as Mary J Blige, that have influenced her songs. Speaking of her time at school, she explained that she wanted to perform but found it hard as she was told she would need to learn the clarinet to be a part of the choir.
As a result, she upped sticks and moved to the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. She has said about her time at the school: 'If I hear someone's from stage school I'd think they were a dickhead, and I know it might make me sound like that. But it had free rehearsal rooms and free equipment and I was listening to music all day, every day for years. The music course was really wicked. There was no dancing or anything like that. No jazz hands.'
In May 2006, she graduated and joined other famous alumni such as Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash and the Feeling. This was when she was first noticed by record labels despite the fact she had had a MySpace page since the end of 2004.
She was invited for a meeting with XL and was so nervous that she took a friend with her. The rest, as they say, is history!
In September 2006, she was signed by XL and her manager was confirmed as Jonathan Dickens. She provided vocals on Jamie Penate's song My Yvonne and met producer Jim Abbiss, with whom she has worked with since.
Her breakthrough single Hometown Glory, which was written about West Norwood, was released in October 2007. Adele went on to support Will Young at the 2007 MENCAP Little Noise Sessions, which was a charity concert. By 2008, she was the headliner and had been named the number-one breakthrough act of the year in an annual BBC poll. She also won the Brit Awards' Critic Choice prize that year.
Her first album 19 was named for her age at the time and was released in February 2008. It went straight to number one after the success of her second single Chasing Pavements, which had been released two weeks previously on 18 January. This song debuted at number two and stayed in the UK charts for four months.
Adele was nominated for the Mercury Prize for her album in 2008 as well as a Q Awards nomination for Best Breakthrough Act. She won an Urban Music award for Best Jazz Act before signing with Columbia Records to start her foray into the US.
She started a tour of North America and 19 was released in June 2008 but by October that year it appeared as though she wouldn't make it in the US. She had cancelled some of her tour dates to be with a former boyfriend and was drinking too much. That was until she performed Chasing Pavements and Cold Shoulder on an episode of Saturday Night Live with Sarah Palin. After the show, which was watched by 17 million people, her album reached number 11 in the Billboard Charts.
In November 2008, she moved to Notting Hill and gave up drinking. In February 2009, her debut album went platinum in the US having sold 2.2 million copies. She also won Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocal Performance in 2009 and was nominated for three Brit awards.
Then prime minister Gordon Brown is also thought to have sent Adele a thank you note for 'being the light at the end of the tunnel' despite the country's financial problems.
Adele's second album 21, which was her age at the time, was released on 24 January 2011 in the UK and on 22 February in the US. She has claimed that the album was inspired by her break-up with a former partner. It was a change in direction from her first record as it incorporated aspects of country music.
It reached number one in more than 26 countries including the UK and US, while an emotional performance of Someone Like You at the Brits on 15 February 2011 rocketed the track to number one. Adele's first album also re-entered the charts while her first two singles from 21 – Rolling In The Deep and Someone Like You were both in the top five. For the first time since the Beatles in 1964, a living British musician had two singles and two albums in the top-five at the same time.
Her third single from the album Set Fire To The Rain also reached number one and Adele embarked on a worldwide tour in October 2011. However, she had to cancel two shows to undergo vocal cord surgery in the US due to a vocal cord haemorrhage that could have led to permanent damage of her voice.
Since then, she has recovered and won six Grammy as well as five Brits. 21 went back to number one in February 2012 and has become the fifth best-selling album of all time in the UK.
She composed and performed the title track for the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, eventually winning an Oscar for her work on the song. She was unable to promote the song as she was heavily pregnant with her son at the time.
Adele gave birth to a son, Angelo, on 19 October 2012. The father is her partner Simon Konecki, whom she moved in with in February 2012.
At the 2013 Grammy awards, she also confirmed that she was in the very early stages of her third album and was having meetings while staying in Los Angeles for the Oscars.
In 2015 she launch her third album campaign with the surprise release of the single Hello, which became her second number 1 in the UK – selling a massive 333,000 copies in its first week. She released her third album 25 in November, which quickly smashed records to become one of the best-selling albums of all time. In an era where streaming and digital downloads have taken over the music industry, 25 bucked this trend by being just as popular in its physical format. The Independent noted: "25 sent casual purchasers back to the remaining physical stores and may even have introduced a new generation to the delights of ownership."
25 has since become Adele's best-selling album, shifting over 19,000,000 copies worldwide. In May 2016, she signed a contract with Sony (leaving her original record company XL) in a reported £90 million deal – the biggest record deal in history.